Dozens of LULAC members and allies blocked a bus transporting undocumented children in McAllen during a protest to free the children.
By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.
June 23, 2018
McAllen, Texas – On Saturday, dozens of League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) members and allies held a protest at the Ursula U.S. Border Patrol Processing Center at the 3700 block of W. Ursula Ave. in McAllen. Domingo Garcia, a candidate for National LULAC President and a civil rights attorney was one among dozens of protesters who blocked a border patrol transport bus from driving through the area where the protest was held. Garcia was among others who sat on the street until the bus backed up and went in the opposite direction. McAllen police and border patrol agents escorted the bus out in a different direction. The bus is operated by TrailBoss Ent Inc., which was transporting children as young as five and women and men.
Those at the protest yelled “Free the Children”, “Aqui estamos y no nos Vamos” and other chants during Saturday’s protest.
LULAC members from throughout Texas and other parts of the country participated including allies.
According to a LULAC press release, “Today, civil rights leaders from across the country gathered peacefully in a civil demonstration at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Center in McAllen to demand an immediate termination to the existing zero-tolerance policy. Keynote speakers included the iconic Dolores Huerta; Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights; Domingo Garcia, President, LULAC Council 102; Hector Flores, Past National LULAC President; Rosa Rosales, Past National LULAC President; Rev. Peter Johnson, The Peter Johnson Institute for Nonviolence; Gabriel Rosales, LULAC National Vice President of the Southwest; Michael Waters, Faith Forward Dallas, and Imam Omar Suleiman, Faith Forward Dallas.”
Last week Sunday, a Father’s Day vigil was held and organized by National Domestic Workers Alliance, United We Dream, ACLU, America’s Voice, People’s Action, Women’s Refugee Commission, Faith in Action, Fuerza del Valle, LUPE (La Unión Del Pueblo Entero), and Neta. The vigil exposed how undocumented children were being held in chain link cages (similar to kennels) at the McAllen border patrol processing center and on Monday a video audio was released and people could hear children crying and asking for relatives and parents.
Several lawsuits have been filed in federal court alleging that undocument children had been subjected and forced to take pyschotic drugs, were beaten, handcuffed naked in cells by detention center staff members who have been contracted by the government to house children.
The ACLU also reported that document’s obtained revealed that the border patrol agents and staff from detention centers have sexually, mentally and physically abuse children.
According to CNN, a lawsuit filed claim a range from unsanitary conditions and invasive monitoring of mail and phone calls to unair-conditioned rooms in hot Texas summers and dosing children with cocktails of psychotropic drugs disguised as vitamins. At one facility, children recounted being held down for forcible injections, which medical records show are powerful antipsychotics and sedatives.
Several centers in the lawsuits included Shiloh RTC in Manvel, Texas and Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center in Virginia.
The U.S. Navy is planning to use abandoned military bases to built tent cities (internment camps) to house and detain more than 20,000 undocumented children, according the Pentagon.
Trump recently signed an executive order to keep children united with their undocumented parents while incarcerated and facing criminal charges for entering the U.S. illegally. Immigrant rights activists say it doesn’t go far enough and Trump’s executive order to unite children did not include a grandfather clause to reunite already separated children with their parents. Trump hasn’t provided a plan on how the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is going to reunite children with their parents.
Some children have been lost in the system and can’t be located.
The separating of children from undocumented parents by the profit operation (who’s profiting by separating or keeping families together detained indefinitely) is turning into a profit operation for a non-profit that operates a dozen facilities housing undocumented children. After the children are processed at border patrol centers including in McAllen, they are transported to detention facilities operated by the non-profit organization Southwest Key Programs Inc., which will be paid more than $458M in 2018 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to TIME. The TIME reported that, “The nonprofit, Southwest Key Programs Inc., is to be paid more than $458 million in fiscal 2018, according to the data — the most among the organizations, government agencies and companies that run a detention and care system for immigrant children on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services. Southwest Key has about a dozen facilities in Texas, including a site at a former WalMart Inc. store in Brownsville that has drawn attention from members of Congress and national news organizations.”
ABCNEWS reported that it cost about $700 to house a child per day in a facility run by Southwest Key.
Dr. Juan Jose Sanchez, the President and CEO of Southwest Key made $1.47M in salary in 2017 (IRS info), doubling his salary from 2016. Southwest Key operates 83 detention centers/shelters/schools around the country and his wife Jennifer Nelson listed as Vice-president in the latest tax filing made $260,000. In the last ten years, Southwest Key has been paid $1.5B under government contracts, CNN reported.
To deport an undocumented immigrant, it costs an estimated $13K each. According to a 2015 report by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Private Prison Corporations (PPC’s) earned $3B for holding ICE detainees. An estimated 34,000 of undocumented immigrants are incarcerated daily costing between $159 to $200 each to hold in a private prison.
States do pay for most of the costs to hold undocumented detainees from their jurisdictions and the federal government reimburse the states about half.
A national day of action against separating children is planned for June 30 around the country, according to organizers.
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Domingo Garcia, President of LULAC Council 102 released the following statement, “I have been asked today, Domingo why did you put yourself in front of a big migra bus in McAllen, Texas. It’s because I saw these children’s faces behind the bars on the bus, at the protest. They waived at me, as an American and Christian, I had to act. As a father, I could not let them just disappear or go to another baby jail. I had to try to protect these children of God, from the cruel political games of politicians in Washington D.C. Together we turned that bus around because hundreds joined us. LULAC members from all of Texas joined us. We now have to change the hearts and minds of Americans of who we are and what we stand for as a country, to defeat hate with love, darkness with light, and bigotry with unity. Hasta la Victoria, and we will do this again at every detention center in the nation on July 4th.”
“Me han preguntado hoy, Domingo porque te pusiste en frente de ese grande camión de migra en McAllen, Texas. Es porque cuando vi las caras de esos niños detrás de las bardas en el camión en la protesta. Me dieron un saludó con las manos, y como Americano y Cristiano, tenía que tomar acción. Como un padre, yo no podía nomas dejarlos desaparecer o ir a otra cárcel de bebés. Yo tenía que proteger estos niños de Dios, de los juegos políticos de los políticos en Washington D.C. Juntos giramos ese autobús de vuelta porque cientos se unieron a nosotros. Miembros de LULAC de todo Texas se unieron con nosotros. Ahora tenemos que cambiar los corazones y mentes de Americanos de quien somos y cuales son nuestros valores como nación, para derrotar odio con amor, la oscuridad con luz, y fanatismo con unidad. Hasta la Victoria, y los volvemos hacer e todos los centros de detención en todo el país el 4 de Julio.”