The Latest: Lawyers bemoan access to Texas immigrant lockup
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on immigrant parents and children separated at the U.S. border (all times local):
Lawyers who visited a federal immigration detention lockup in rural Texas where the U.S. government says it is establishing a family reunification center say no information about the detainees is being released.
Attorneys from the Legal Aid Justice Center in Virginia said on a conference call Tuesday that they need to have names, federal alien identification numbers or case numbers to access the facility at Port Isabel, near Los Fresnos.
They can only take a pen and paper when they meet detainees, who are all adults.
The lawyers have spoken to about 200 detainees since last week and only a handful knew where their children were being held. Detainees report that a 1-800 number for information about separated children doesn’t work.
The lawyers say detainees are segregated by country of origin. Many hail from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
A conservative suburb of Austin, Texas, is ending a contract with a 500-bed immigration detention center that has been a target of lawsuits and criminal investigations for a decade.
Commissioners in Williamson County voted 4-1 on Tuesday to sever ties with the T. Don Hutto Residential Center starting in 2019. The facility houses women and is overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The canceled contract comes amid uproar over the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy and families that were split up by the government.
The facility opened in 2006 after being converted from a medium-security prison. It originally held women and children until 2009, when the U.S. government settled a lawsuit over how children were being confined.
Advocates say problems inside the facility have persisted. It is privately run by CoreCivic, which was formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America.
Dozens of protesters have gathered outside the US attorney’s office in Los Angeles to protest the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
Tuesday’s protest outside the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles comes hours before U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to address the conservative Criminal Justice Legal Foundation’s annual meeting.
Protesters are chanting: “Sessions, where’s your heart?”
Protesters also are carrying signs reading: “Free the children!” and “stop caging families.”
A man wearing a Donald Trump mask has a sign reading: “Know your enemy.”
A handful of Los Angeles police officers are standing to the side of the protest.
Immigrant rights advocates are asking a judge to order the release of immigrant parents separated from their children at the U.S. border and their reunification.
Attorneys on Monday asked the federal court in Los Angeles that is overseeing a longstanding settlement governing detention conditions for immigrant children to include their parents as plaintiffs.
The complaint filed by pro bono law firm Public Counsel on behalf of three Central American mothers whose children were taken from them by U.S. authorities in May argues that families need to heal from the trauma of forced separation together and outside the confines of detention.
Attorneys say the mothers are fleeing persecution and seeking asylum in the United States.
The Department of Justice declined comment.
The Trump administration has asked the court to let authorities detain families together during immigration proceedings to try to discourage illegal immigration.
The image of an immigrant child clinging to her mother has been removed from a mural near the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic site in Kansas.
The Kansas City Star reports that the image was painted over Monday.
The 130- by 30-foot (40- by 9-meter) mural tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ended segregated education and faces a former all-black school in Topeka where the lead plaintiff’s child was a student.
Artist bj McBride says she added the mother and child to the mural Friday following reports of the separation of parents and children at the U.S. border. She later decided it was “distracting.”
Sarah Fizell, executive director of the nonprofit ArtsConnect behind the mural, says the image didn’t fit with the mural’s story.