Immigration activists slap lawsuits on Texas detention facilities

Immigrant activists have not been impressed with the decision in Texas to grant childcare licenses to immigration detention centers, and on Tuesday, just four days after one of two family holding facilities close to San Antonio was granted such a license, launched a lawsuit against the decision.

The new licenses have been described as “an extraordinary manipulation” of child welfare rules by University of Texas psychologist and social worker Luis Zayas, who says the centers are still prisons regardless of whether they put up children’s playgrounds. Although the Karnes and Dilley complexes have playgrounds as well as soccer fields and classrooms, few believe them to be an environment that is actually healthy for children.

Dozens of immigration critics are also of the opinion that running detention centers operated by prison firms for profit perverts the mission of the state agency as it helps to further prop up a system of incarceration that damages the physical and mental health of those kept there. In 2014, Zayas found that detention is often responsible for serious development regression and psychiatric disorders including the likes of reversion to breastfeeding and feels that long-lasting effects on young and older children’s mental health can result from just a few weeks spent in such facilities.

Grassroots Leadership has launched a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, accusing them of having overstepped their authority by regulating venues that are not childcare establishments at all.