Sunday, December 2, 2007

Arrange a film screening!

Educate yourself and your community! Arrange to screen Hutto: America's Family Prison, a short documentary film about Hutto and its impact on both those detained inside and the community it's situated in.

Click here to preview the film, then contact the filmmakers at:

MatthewGossage[at] (Texas)
LKeber[at] (outside Texas)

They will furnish you with a copy of the film and accompanying materials, and help get you on your way to setting up your own community screening.

Sign and Distribute this Faith Statement

One of the key arguments against Hutto and family detention is its inherent immorality. Many in the faith-based community have objected to the incarceration of children and the suggestion that this is the best way to promote family values.

Click here to download the Faith Statement and join those formally objecting to Hutto on moral grounds. It may be returned to: Texans United for Families, c/o Grassroots Leadership, 904 Capitol Court, Austin, 78756.

For more information, contact faith[at] or (512) 971-0487.

Below is the text from the body of the Statement. (However, rather than just copying this text, please take a moment to download it from the link above.)

The T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas imprisons children and their families every day right in our backyard. Corrections Corporation of America, a for-profit private prison company that operates the Hutto detention center, and Williamson County both make a profit from every family incarcerated through this reprehensible government contract. These precious immigrant children and their families have not been charged with a crime, yet are incarcerated at a prison-like facility, their health, safety, education, and well-being put at risk with no foreseeable benefit.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, says that Hutto is necessary “to maintain the unity of alien families.” We as faith communities believe that we must find a solution that ensures that children do not spend their days in prison, a more humane solution, a solution in which all men, women, and children, regardless of their country of origin, are treated with dignity and respect as children of God while their immigration cases are being reviewed.

We cannot stand idly by and let innocent children be treated so inhumanely. While the world’s faiths are different in practice and traditions, they share the principle of human dignity. We see an example of this belief in Proverbs 31:8-9: “Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Thus, we the below-signed members of the central Texas faith community, call for the immediate closure of the T. Don Hutto Detention Center. To end the detention of children and their families, I add my voice. Please use my name publicly. For evil to triumph, all that is necessary is for good people to keep silent. We cannot keep silent anymore.

Attend a vigil

Vigils have been held in protest outside Hutto every month since December, 2006. These vigils have been the most effective means of bringing attention to both T Don Hutto. They have caught the attention of the local and national media, celebrities, and activists from across the country and internationally. Many have said they would never have heard about Hutto nor known our government was locking up families otherwise.

Information on upcoming vigils will be posted here as it becomes available. Please check back soon.

Draft a letter

One of the easier- and surprisingly effective- ways to get bureaucrats' attention is to write them a letter. Below is a sample letter addressed to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, asking the government to stop holding migrant children and their parents in prison-like facilities. Please feel free to sample it or any text in this blog.

You can also copy your letter to the head of Hutto, and the Juvenile Coordinator for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

(Sample courtesy Jay Johnson-Castro)


Michael Chertoff, Secretary
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
245 Murray Lane, SW
Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Secretary Chertoff:

I write with regard to the detention of migrant families and children in the Don T. Hutto Detention Facility in Taylor, TX. Since Hutto opened, the detention of families in the United States has increased. The use of a prison-like facility that has not been updated to meet the needs of detained migrants and asylum seekers is not appropriate, especially for children. The majority of children detained at Hutto appear to be under 12 years old, and they have a right to be with their families in a place that is safe, with education and recreational opportunities.

Additionally, I remind you that international standards for the treatment of asylum seekers recommend against detention except under special circumstances. And migrants in detention are to be afforded the same rights as nationals who are being held.

I urge you to investigate the conditions at Hutto to determine whether it is appropriate to hold migrant families with children there, and if not, to resolve the situation immediately.

Thank you for your prompt attention to my concerns,


Simona Colon
T. Don Hutto Residential Center
1001 Welch Street, P.O. Box 1063
Taylor, TX 76574

John Pogash
ICE National Juvenile Coordinator
Department of Homeland Security
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
800 I Street NW, Suite 900
Washington, DC 20536