Monday, November 19, 2007

Keep the Hutto Detention Center Open!

By Tony Vega for
Friday, November 09, 2007

A family that illegally crosses the border together stays together. America has only two detention centers to house families that illegally enter the country. One facility is the Berk Facility in Pennsylvania and the second one is the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Facility opened in May 2006 in Taylor, Texas. We must make sure these facilities remain open, while we lobby for the creation of more centers to keep families together and safe from smugglers that exploit these vulnerable and desperate families. While we endeavor to find locations for additional centers, we must make sure it does not burden an American neighborhood already stressed by existing illegal immigrants. American interests and American families should be first and foremost. Let us not pile onto families that send their children to schools or hospitals that are overcrowded, resulting in less than premium care that American children deserve.

A family recently moved next door to me. They relocated from my “old” neighborhood, it was nice to catch up and reminisce with them. I recall the local elementary school in the old neighborhood being a decent one-not the best, but adequate. Most of the staff and students spoke fluent English and enjoyed large outdoor rec. areas. Now back to the future some 15 years later that school is now overcrowded, English is the foreign language, and the outside play areas are being encroached. My newly acquired neighbors relocated approximately 7 miles south from that area into a community that is very diverse and progressive. The difference between the more diverse “new” neighborhood and the “old” one is that it’s representative of American values. A majority of the families legally arrived from varying countries such as Afghanistan, China, India, Israel, the Philippines, and others. The families complemented and assimilated into a functioning American system. This success story is not fiction; it is an example of a process that values laws and diversity, enabling the pursuit of freedom to be achieved. This system fails when our laws are subverted and the violators are coddled and unchallenged. When immigrants break the law to enter the country, they are beginning their new lives on the wrong foot. If captured, they are introduced to a chaotic bureaucracy such as detention facilities, immigration hearings, not to mention the angst over possible deportation.

A quick check of the numbers reported by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reveal that approximately 400 million people enter the U.S. through legal checkpoints each year. The GAO found that officers turned away over 200,000 people attempting to enter via some of the 326 legal air, sea, and land entry points during the 2006 fiscal year. There is an unverifiable estimate that approximately 21,000 illegal immigrants slipped through these border-crossing points between October 2005 and September 2006. This estimate does not explore the number of illegal entries via non-conventional points. The numbers are staggering. The Hutto center is a 512 bed facility, a drop in the bucket for the tidal wave of illegal entries.
America’s former immigrant enforcement “catch and release” policy was rife with problems. Pursuant to that policy adult members of detained migrant families were sent to separate facilities than their children, often in lieu of this, the alien families would be released and issued a Notice to Appear. What do you think happened? If you believe these law abiding folks appeared as per their return date then you’re not paying attention. This catch and release policy was very attractive to smugglers and they exploited it. Smugglers would bring unrelated children across the border with smuggled adult strangers fabricating family units. This aided the smugglers in avoiding detention if captured. There have been noted instances where these fabricated families would “volunteer” to be caught in order to expedite their release into the American populace. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) came under congressional criticism for this inept policy. The Hutto facility was established to help in the new “catch and hold” policy, which will aid officials in keeping families together pursuant to a new congressional mandate. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will manage the facility

The Hutto facility, not yet the Hilton, appears to be a reasonable alternative and a well- needed addition to the Berk facility. It appears the emergence from the traditional policy of catch and release to the new “catch and hold” policy raised the ire of the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children. The Women’s Commission along with the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and the powerful ACLU are trying to close the Hutto facility citing among other things that it was a former prison and remains too “prison” like. These advocate groups have many supporters, such as, and Hutto has seen its share of protestors.
(Image on the left is of the photo intake area)

In February 2007, the Women’s Commission toured the facility and reported the results on their website. On the front page of the site is an image of a note “slipped” to them by a young detainee, reading “ Help us, and ask us questions” The picture is overlapping another black and white image of a playground within a large fenced in area. The fence is equipped with barbed wire. A subsequent interview of Gary Meade the Assistant Director of ICE by Dallas channel 8 news revealed the director saying Hutto is a work in progress and there are plans to remove the wire. The barbed wire was removed at a later date.

The anti-Hutto site,, hosts a series of benign videos attempting to publicize the plight. The first video aptly titled “Children Detained” displays a text graphic declaring some of the children along with their families were “confined” for a little over 3 months. Listen, children should not be held responsible for the violations perpetrated by their parents, but unfortunately, it’s an unpleasant fact that when adult caretakers accompanied by their minor charges are apprehended the children are stuck in the middle. It should always be of paramount concern and order that local or federal officials make sure the children are placed in a safe and secure environment pending appropriate custodial placement. The children in these anti-Hutto videos all appear healthy and housed in a clean, safe, well lit establishment, and best of all in the company of their parents, the same parents that put them in this predicament. How magnanimous of U.S. officials. The worst atrocity described was “having a small window where we could see the sky, but can’t enjoy it” These are the poster families of the gulag?

The second video features a Palestinian family interviewed by CBS, not FOX, after immigration officials allowed the film crew in following the complaints of another Palestinian family held at Hutto for 3 months. As the camera is rolling, the reporter is walking the viewers through the facility and reports “it looks more like a day care center, not a detention center, but another Palestinian family has a different story.” The interview followed with Nazmieh Juma and her 11-year-old son Mohammed. They were held for 3 months and she wonders aloud what she did wrong. How about entering the country illegally? The video report continued and audibly and visually established that there was no abuse, but the family complained the facility was more like a prison instead of the family friendly center depicted by ICE.

The third video shows more of the same, including the same pregnant woman and her two small daughters in the first video that complained about “not being able to enjoy the sky.” Thank goodness, those small girls did not fall prey to the smugglers.

The fourth video shows a family from Iran, previously deported from Canada. The family was sneaking back into the Canada via Guyana with phony passports. They came to the attention of U.S. authorities after the plane they were on made an unscheduled landing. Kudos to ICE, it shows they’re on the job. Remember many of the 9/11 hijackers entered the U.S. with phony passports. This Iranian family was discovered and detained at the Hutto facility along with their 9 yr old son Kevin Yourdkhani. While at Hutto, Kevin wrote a letter, in crayon, to the Canadian prime minister (PM) asking for help. Kevin was born in Canada in 1997 after his parents went there seeking refugee status, the family was eventually denied and deported back to Iran. It is reported that while in Iran they were imprisoned (an actual prison) and tortured, after an unexplained release the family attempted to illegally return to Canada. The PM received Kevin’s letter and responded with temporary Canadian residency permits for the family. After a few weeks in Hutto, the Yourdkhani’s were provided air transport to Canada. During a subsequent interview in which you can hear the prompting from the background, Kevin complained, not about his family’s ordeal in Iran, but the lack of education he was granted during the few weeks at Hutto, sick children, and the food.

The last and fifth video shows a group of protestors shouting about children being educated behind barbed wire. That’s right “educated.” Wow, the great Satan America. I can show you some American schools with locked doors, no AC, no gym, no library, metal detectors, and armed public servants. Many of the parents are thankful for the opportunity their children are getting to elevate themselves from their current station.

A look at the various websites, including the ACLU site, wishing Hutto closed reveals more of the same. The ACLU site boasts of the landmark settlement with immigration officials in August 2007. The first bullet point reveals that 13-year-old children, at the behest of the ACLU, are allowed to move free abut the facility. Would you want 13-year- old boys and girls moving freely about a “prison”?

After scouring the anti-Hutto sites, one will not find any dark or foreboding images, or any detainees wearing “prison garb.”

A check of the fact sheet for Hotel Hutto at reveals the following amenities:

A medical area, which includes a mental health staff

A chaplain

Adult classes in parenting, ESL, vocational, and more

Unlocked doors (very “prison” like)

Central air conditioning throughout entire 7,500 sq. ft. facility

A general library containing over 2000 books

A law library

Three outdoor shaded pavilions and play areas

A gym, baseball, basketball, hand ball, ping pong, and soccer

There are many more amenities, in place prior to the “landmark” decision. What, no football-how dare them!?

Please allow me to digress a moment. Take a walk with me back to my neighborhood. This community is a functioning mosaic that would make any legitimate civil liberties activist proud. Unfortunately, racial arsonists and perverse secular progressives have hijacked mainstream organizations such as the NAACP and the Anti-American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU goes so far to champion causes of the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), they are also an active force behind a Main school board dispensing birth control pills to 11-year-old-girls. When groups such as the ACLU are litigating to shutdown family facilities, in the interest of children, one should be very suspicious.

It appears the cry to shut down Hutto is an ideological one, rather than a pragmatic solution to a complex issue.

There is an active 20-year-old court order preventing the deportation of migrants from El Salvador. DHS is unable to expeditiously remove people from El Salvador due to an order created when there was a civil war 20 years ago. Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff has acknowledged that the civil war is over and the restrictions have long since disappeared. Secretary Chertoff is appealing to Congress for relief. This common sense approach will help alleviate some of the burden. You see, this is where the blind ideologues get in the way- it wouldn’t be in furtherance of the true agenda. That agenda is to allow the tide of illegal immigration to continue to flow unimpeded. This unfettered chaos will promote anarchy and expedite the devaluation of America. If you think the ACLU or these other anti-Hutto outfits are looking out for the children, think again. If they were, Kevin Yourdkhani would have been prompted not to complain about Hutto, but to talk about his ordeal in Iran. One of the basic protections for a refugee seeking asylum, is not to be returned to a State where they would be persecuted. Complaining about the education curriculum at Hutto after a brief layover does not help the Yourdkhanis.

Another practical view into this issue would reveal the need for additional facilities, in order to keep the migrant families together and safe, safe from the unscrupulous smugglers. Lastly, it shows the outstanding performance by ICE and the tremendous task our government faces to keep America secure.

No comments: