Gattis, Carter, ICE, CCA Unlikely To Attend Local Forum On T. Don Hutto

Posted in County Judge, District 31, Immigration, T. Don Hutto, Williamson County at 9:29 am by wcnews

In July when the forum was announced it seemed like a long shot that any of the above would actually show up. Especially since it was billed as, “..a dignified and serious exploration of issues relating to this most important controversy”.

It should come as not surprise that County Judge Dan Gattis, Sr. is now saying, “the chances of me attending are pretty slim”. Congressman John Carter is ducking the debate too, as are Julie Myers of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and and John Ferguson of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) - the corporation that’s making a profit off of our tax money for running this facility.

It would seem, in this elections season, that the elected officials, at least, would want to show up and defend their policies on immigration. Since many in Gattis and Carter’s party believe this to be a favorable issue for them. That leads on to assume that the problem they have is that it might be an actual debate. That is probably what scares is keeping them away.

Full article from 4A The Williamson County Sun, August 20. 2008, below the fold.

T. Don Hutto forum for Gattis? Not likely


County Judge Dan Gattis said he is still considering whether he will participate in a public forum September 24 regarding the T. Don Hutto Residential Facility in Taylor, which serves as a detention center for immigrant families awaiting deportation hearings.

“I’m still looking at it, but the chances of me attending are pretty slim,” Judge Gattis said Tuesday.

Nevertheless, organizer Mary Ellen Kersch with Immigration Reform Effort, who met with the judge Monday morning, said she is hoping the judge will decide to participate.

“This cannot be a full and balanced conversation without him. I stressed to him that our goal is to begin a resolution, not to continue to divide or politicize,” Ms. Kersch said. “We are seeking resolution and redemption on this thing. We need his input and perspective. This has been a real boil for Williamson County.”

Invited panelists who have confirmed their participation include Barbara Hines clinical professor of law ant director of the Immigration Clinic at The University of Texas School of Law and co-counsel in the lawsuits challenging conditions at T. Don Hutto; Wayne Krause, Legal Director for the Austin office for the Texas Civil Rights Project; Bob Libal, Texas Coordinator for Grassroots Leadership which is working to abolish for-profit private prisons; and Jose Orta, President of LULAC Council 4721 and longtime Taylor resident and critic of the facility.

These panelists have all expressed concerns about various issues relating to the facility.

Ms. Kersch said Congressman John Carter, who represents the 31st District of Texas in which T. Don Hutto is located, has not yet responded to an invitation.

She noted that a call to his office revealed that he did not receive the first invitation.

Ms. Kersch said that the forum will go on as scheduled even without participation from those who may hold opposing views on the issue.

Other invited guests who have not yet responded include Julie Meyers, Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and John Ferguson, Chairman and CEO of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which owns, and has contract with ICE to operate, the facility.

Doug Smith, former Mayor Pro-Tern, will serve as moderator at the event.

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