ICE has “detained” peaceful refugees and immigrants, men, whom it has charged with violations of immigration law, at the low-security lock-up, the “Karnes Civil Detention Center,” at 409 FM 1144, Karnes City, Texas, 7811. The center is staffed by the for-profit prison corporation, the GEO group, and it was a GEO employee who’d confirmed for me, months ago, that it is a very low security facility. I’d been visiting a client, a young Mayan man, from about November, 2013, through June, 2014 when he’d been released after a judge granted him deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture. My client was the most gentle kid you could imagine, and the GEO staff member at the front desk, by the (now, first) metal detector, assured me that everyone confined in that place was also harmless.
— Anyone who is, who has, anything, is any danger at all, they’d be next door — he told me, gesturing to the right.
There is a neighboring prison also run by GEO: that’s the one with the barbed wire. The low-security detention center is at 409 FM 1144, on the left in this view. The higher-security GEO prison is on the right. Its address is on Commerce Street, but if you try to get there from the Commerce street “downtown,” it will be a little confusing. The part of Commerce Street that serves as the address for this prison isn’t continuous from downtown, you’ll have to jog left (south-ish) on 181 (towards Kenedy), and then make your first right.
The Karnes Civil Detention Center closes briefly in the summer of 2014, re-opening in August to detain — or inKARNESerate — women and children refugees and immigrants, mostly but not exclusively Central Americans. I say “refugees” because pretty much everyone I will meet for the next ten months has left home fleeing violence and persecution. But maybe there are some immigrants there, too. It’s possible.
From the outside, what’s different is the new, bright blue paint at the main entrance. Blue benches will come soon.
The ICE “bond packet”
This stack of paper takes some explaining. Between August, 2014 and ” target=”_blank”>February 20, 2015, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) maintained, with a handful of exceptions, that every single Central American refugee woman or child posed a “national security threat” to the U.S. Most of these women and children were entitled to have immigration judges review that determination; DHS lawyers presented immigration judges with this set of documents to oppose bond in every single instance. (This is the entire packet, or see individual declarations of Philip T. Miller and Exhibit 7: Declaration of Traci Lemke” target=”_blank”>Traci Lembke separately.)
Referral for Violation of Rule 104
A GEO staff member threatened a fifteen-year old Salvadoran refugee, who had recently arrived in the U.S. and immediately detained, for being outside of her assigned room at “count.” (Refugee children and their mothers are counted several times a day, like prisoners.) This girl was outside her assigned room because she had gone to be with her mother and two younger sisters, who were assigned to stay in a different room. Note the threat that “failure to comply or repeat referrals may result in loss of privileges or disciplinary action leading up to a removal from the Karnes County Residential Center to a more appropriate facility” (emphasis added). In other words, GEO staff threatened already traumatized refugee children to take them away from their mothers and siblings. This copy is redacted.
Nestor Rodríguez, Professor of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin, Declaration (coming to this website soon) — a rebuttal to the ICE bond packet that advocates for refugees used in immigration court until Judge Boasberg’s ” target=”_blank”>February 20, 2015 order relieved us of the need to do so.
August 21, 2014
August 26, 2014
Matter of ARCG et al, U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review, Board of Immigration Appeals. This timely BIA decision recognized a particular social group of “married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship.” It became extremely important to those of us representing women and children refugees who had been abused.
ICE Deportation Officer Budd Ratliff at Karnes, confirms the no-bond policy. Our directive, he tells me, is no bonds on anyone. We are keeping them through the entire process unless a judge orders otherwise. Declaration of Virginia Raymond at paragraph 7.
Go to Karnes chronology, August 2014 – July 2015 (a work in progress)