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​Statement of Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, on State District Judge ruling, Texas Attorney

December 06, 2016 | posted by Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS

Topics: Breaking News

Statement of Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, on State District Judge ruling, Texas Attorney General appeal concerning issuance of childcare licenses to federal detention centers

A ruling last Friday by a state district court judge in Austin that Texas could not license detention centers as childcare facilities was a victory for common sense. This decision greatly impacts two federal detention centers in Dilley and Karnes City which incarcerate migrant and refugee women and children. These facilities are located within the Archdiocese of San Antonio; I am the pastor to the people there.

The Department of Family and Protective Services should not license these prisons as residential childcare centers. As I have stated previously since these centers opened in 2014, many of the women are fleeing violence, in fear of their lives and the safety of their children. They need mercy and compassion, not derision and detention.

Yesterday, the Texas attorney general inexplicably appealed the judge’s ruling. In the past, the attorney general has argued that state licensing improves safety because it requires the facilities to submit to unannounced inspections and background check requirements. Both of the detention facilities are operated by private firms.

I have visited these detention facilities which are holding hundreds of family members from Central America and have asked myself: Why do we feel compelled to place in detention such vulnerable individuals — young mothers with children who are fleeing persecution in their home countries?They have already gone through a horrific experience on their journey to safety at the hands of smugglers and others, victims of violence and sexual assault.

Hundreds of women and children were released from the facilities at all hours over the weekend. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement insisted the releases were part of normal operations, and that has been confirmed. We stand ready to assist all these families with their needs. Through Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, we continue to reach out with humanitarian and legal assistance to help these families in this time of personal crisis. Hundreds of women and children have been provided food and blankets by Catholic Charities in the past couple of days. In addition, many people of good will and various organizations have served these vulnerable brothers and sisters, and for that I am truly grateful.

As the number of families entering the country through the Rio Grande Valley climbs to record numbers, I again reiterate my call to reform this broken immigration system. We need security and law; but there are financially responsible alternatives and compassionate solutions to the detention of mothers and children. It is time for our government officials to pursue them.