The only reason that T. Don Hutto (TDH) is back on the Williamson County Commissioners Court agenda and in the news is because of money. For its potential to cost the county a bundle because of future legal liability and/or because the county would like to up it’s take from the corporation that runs it. Whether mothers and children should be locked up or not, as far as the commissioners are concerned, is up to the federal government. It also seems the commissioners think if it doesn’t happen here it’ll just happen somewhere else, so we might as well take advantage of it.
As you can see and hear in the video below, Cynthia Long County Commissioner Precinct 2, tries to rationalize her stance on TDH by saying all the adults in TDH have broken the law, and compassionately states that “..unfortunately as children some time we have to suffer with the sins of our parents”.
And, of course, if they’re not law breakers than her whole rationalizations disappears. Read up on the kind of criminals TDH is housing here. She also state’s that the “.. children are probably not there by choice”, that’s overstating the obvious. She rolls her eyes (1:25 in) when she refers to their “suffering, if you call it that..because of their parents choices”.
Comparing the conditions at a re-painted prison in America to the conditions in the countries where “some of these people are from” and what she has seen “first hand in many of the Central American countries”, is another attempt to try and rationalize locking up mothers and children. And of course conditions here are better than what she was in Central America, American standards for detention have traditionally been higher than third would countries. It’s also presumptuous of her to make it seem like everyone in TDH previously lived in some sort of hovel in Central America. Let’s also remember that most of these people entered the country seeking asylum and had been in the country for months already, in other words, they had already been out of their Central American hovel for a while. Long ends by saying “..it’s [TDH] is far from a any prison that I’ve ever seen and is far better than the conditions that the vast majority of these people have left”. I’d like to know how she knows that.There’s always been a rather gray area, maybe charcoal gray, as to whether anyone at TDH has actually “broken the law”. Here’s what Barbara Hines, co-counsel in the recently settled ACLU case against ICE, had to say regarding whether those at TDH have actually broken the law.
No one at Hutto has been charged with any crime. It is a misdemeanor to enter the US illegally but ICE does not routinely lodge these charges. The statute is 8 USC 1325. Everyone at Hutto is charged with a civil violation of the immigration law. The law provides that those who fear persecution as many do have the right to make that claim in the context of their deportation case. In addition not everyone at Hutto has entered illegally. The Iraqi Christians detained at Hutto come to the border and ask for asylum at the bridge. They don’t enter illegally and are still detained at Hutto. Other detainees come to the airport with valid visas but seek asylum, they end up at Hutto. I strongly disagree with her statement that people are better off at Hutto than where they came from. How many detainees has she talked to?
It’s much easier to dismiss, and dehumanize, a bunch of law breakers and their children than it is to look at the individual circumstances of each of these families. But often times doing the right thing is the much harder.