Immigration Family Detention Center gets child-care license

One of the biggest detention centers in the United States for families caught illegally crossing the nation’s southern border has been given a temporary residential child care license even as discussions continue as to whether such facilities should continue to be used by the federal government.

The six-month license was granted last week by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to the Karnes City facility, which has 500 beds and is situated to the southeast of San Antonio. Last year a federal judge ruled that children should not be allowed to be kept in the centers as they had no approval to look after minors, resulting in the license being requested by the private prison firm that operates the facility on behalf of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The license was obtained for the facility in Karnes City by GEO Group Inc even as the apprehension of unaccompanied undocumented immigrant minors on the southwest border has risen by as much as 78 percent from the beginning of October 2015 to the end of March this year in comparison to the same time period 12 months earlier, while the number of family apprehensions has actually doubled.

Immigrant advocates have criticized the detention of minors, declaring the centers to have inadequate medical care and to have lowered minimum standards. However, in recent months Immigration and Customs Enforcement have made it clear that they want to change how they house minors and families caught on the border between Mexico and the United States.