Hotel-style detention center considered by immigration officials

Plans from federal immigration officials to create a new family detention center capable of housing up to 500 women and children are moving forward, despite many politicians and immigrant advocates calling for the complete abolishment of such places.

Officials from Dimmit County, which is situated 45 miles from the US-Mexico border in Texas, are considering a bid from a company who claims their centre, located in a 27-acre facility that was previously an oil work camp, will provide considerably superior conditions than the two existing state family detention centers. Those facilities have also faced much criticism regarding inadequate medical care and poor food, as well as allegations of sexual abuse made by advocates, the US Civil Rights Commission, and detainees.

Stratton Oilfield Systems claims that their facility will offer an alternative closer to a community setting that will enable children to live in a home, go to school and have access to vital social and legal services. Dimmit County commissioner Mike Uriegas says the company also wants the facility not to have a fence in order to avoid the appearance of being a detention center or prison.

However, Grassroots Leadership’s Immigration Programs Director, Cristina Parker, says it is the idea of detention for immigrant families who are fleeing violence that is the objection, and that such places are prisons regardless of how pleasant they appear if those living there are not free to leave. Advocates are continuing to call on the Obama administration to find alternatives for families waiting for their immigration cases to be heard in court.