Williamson County cuts ties with ICE and T. Don Hutto detention center

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Williamson County Commissioners Court voted Tuesday to end its contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and CoreCivic Inc. which runs T. Don Hutto Residential Center, effective Jan. 31, 2019.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to end the county’s contract with the center, located at 1001 Welch Street, Taylor, that currently houses women detained—including some 35 moms who were separated from their children—by federal officials at the U.S. border.

The vote to terminate the contract does not mean the facility would be closed as the federal government or private owners can keep the center open, county officials said.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey voted against ending the contract. Covey sought to move a regular agenda item into an executive session but was voted down by other commissioners.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Terry Cook said during the commission’s Tuesday meeting that while she would vote in favor of ending the contract, she was concerned with the fact that officials with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office would no longer be able to go onto the center’s property during investigations. Cook said she was also concerned about what would happen to the women housed in the facility if the center does close, as the women would need to be moved to other already over-crowded centers.

“Let me be clear I’ve always believed that the women at T. Don Hutto should not be there. They are fleeing horrific living conditions,” Cook said. “Our country needs immigrants. [But] if the court votes to terminate the contract no one should be celebrating or taking credit for this termination. This does not solve that larger immigration issue but it does allow us in the county to go back and focus on core county functions.”

More than 150 people filled the courtroom holding signs after marching around the courthouse in downtown Georgetown in favor of canceling the contract.

Several of the marchers spoke during the citizens comment part of Tuesday’s meeting and thanked the commissioners for their decision, including Austin’s St. John Episcopal Church Rev. Matthew Seddon.

“I want to thank you; I want to thank you for being on the right side of history,” Seddon said. “I want to thank you for being on the right side of the Bible, for being on the right side of the Christian tradition and for being on the right side of what is moral and right.”

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  1. I moved to Williamson county to escape the liberal policies of Travis county. I don’t believe that all those people that protested were Williamson county residents. I don’t support the vote.

    • Yes we were. My church group was a major par of the protest. We live by IKEA. My church is off of 79. Several churches were involved

  2. Political grandstanding does nothing to resolve the immigration problem in the County, State or Country. The U.S. does need immigrants but not people who enter our borders illegally. The liability is on the parents who illegally crossed our borders. Had they gone through a normal port of entry, they wouldn’t have an issue. The County solves nothing by countering one problem by creating another. Now, this will end up in the courts wasting public dollars as politicians build up their resumes for their election brochures.

  3. US Citizens Before Illegals

    Wow……it amazes me that churches would protest for people that have broken the law! Why aren’t you protesting for all of the other single mothers and fathers who are citizens of this country that are separated from their kids everyday when the parents are sentenced to jail? Seem pretty much the same thing to me!!!

  4. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE WORD ILLEGAL YOU PEOPLE DON’T UNDERSTAND? Since when did we get to pick and choose which laws we obey. What if the people of Williamson Co thought their Property Taxes were unfair and everyone just stopped paying them? You’d scream bloody murder, arrest us and confiscate our property and our children would become homeless, and you’d say we got what we deserved for breaking the law. If “we need immigrants” you’d think that there would be a process where people could legally apply to immigrate to the U.S. Oh yeah, we do have that process don’t we. Those immigrants who choose to go around that process are called illegal immigrates. STOP REFERRING TO THEM SIMPLY AS IMMIGRATES, THEY ARE ILLEGAL IMMIGRATES. By calling them immigrates disrespects the real immigrants that are here legally. Being opposed to illegal immigration does not mean you are anti-Immigration. It does not mean you are somehow a racist or hate Hispanics, or anyone else because you believe in obeying the law. Why is enforcing the law considered racist? What are you supposed to do, just turn them loose without any vetting at all? That’s the only other option. As far as their kids are concerned, any American citizen who breaks the law and is incarcerated is separated not only from their children but also the rest of their family. Why should these people be treated differently? If they are seeking asylum, why didn’t they seek it in Mexico? Could it be because Mexico’s immigration laws are more strict than ours? I know the majority of these people are not criminals, and are fine hard working people when they find jobs, but they also create a tremendous burden on our social safety nets, education system and medical care. Every dollar we spend on illegals who have not paid into the system is a dollar not available for American citizens, who have been paying all their lives. I know we want to help all people, but how many people can you put in the lifeboat before it sinks and everyone drowns. How many unassimilated Aliens living inside our borders will it take before the United States is no longer the United States. I don’t want to sound like I’m heartless, but these parents are the heartless ones. They choose to put their children in harms way coming here, their misfortune is self inflicted. I must say I’m disappointed in Williamson Co. Thank you Valerie Covey for having the courage to support the rule of law, and shame on the rest of you for being spineless, I hope you loose your jobs come next election.

    • Thank you! I really don’t understand protesting for people who broke the law?!?!? Really have these morons just list their minds? Yes, all of our families ended up here through immigration, but…news flash…our families did it legally! That’s all is expected out of newer immigrants…why make exceptions for them when our ancestors had to legally get here and follow all the laws to not get arrested? This is so ignorant to me…”Children need their moms”…what about the woman in prison who are legal us citizens who did crimes? It’s a double standard if they don’t need their kids as well…and your pitiful excuse of them committing crime means nothing since these illegal immigrants did not follow the law either. What about our soldier moms fighting for your rights?!?! Don’t they need their kids too? And they aren’t breaking the law. Now let’s talk about the illegal immigrants that are separated from their kids…did you know that T Don Hutto use to keep the entire families together? Not just moms with kids, but fathers with kids. And they got 3 meals a day, snacks all day, any medical and dental need met, educated by licensed teachers, playgrounds, gymnasiums, tv, video games, arts and crafts, toys, and field trips out of the facility. Honestly that’s better than I can afford to raise my family, but that wasn’t good enough for these protestors…they wanted these kids out of facilities, cause let’s be serious, they aren’t behind bars, they have open movement all freakin day long. So they got what they wanted and took their kids away from them just like every other us citizen who breaks the law gets. Stupid protesters need to mind their own business and not tape their own kids mouths shut like the lead photo in this article shows…worry about raising your own kids to do things legally and leave the legal system to those who handle those who break it!

    • If you control the language of the debate you control the outcome. MSM refuses to call it amnesty and call it “immigration reform.”
      Other substitutions are immigrant for ILLEGAL (as you point out) and anti-immigrants for anti-illegals. These semantic tricks are intended to make conservatives appear bigoted and irrational.

      Footnote: the article should make clear this is in TEXAS given the fact that there’s this thing called the internet and this article’s link goes anywhere.

    • Thank you for saying exactly what myself and 90% of the people I know have been saying. Well stated, sir. We are a country of laws, and like or not we are all subject to those laws.

    • Thank you from a 24 year military veteran who volunteered many years and gave the protections to these ungrateful protestors. When the illegals they rally for have some affect on them personally such as rape, dui, or some other heinous crime they will have a different attitude and expect swift action by ICE.

  5. Ali Linan and Williamson Co. Please be the 1st to put your kindness to work and welcome these illegal immigrants into your well meaning homes and sponser them. Why do I suspect my comment will be followed by the sound of crickets.

  6. I agree that this was an uninformed and dumb decision by the Commissioners and totally against the will of the residents of Williamson County. All it takes is a few liberals to start barking at the moon and everyone thinks that is the norm. Well it’s not for Williamson County and as the liberals in DC are calling for, make the liberal commissioners uncomfortable in our community for disregarding the law and their oath.

  7. Am I missing a key point or does this article not say what will now happen to illegals detained in Williamson County? Contract with Hutto cancelled but what now….a different detention center?

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Ali Linan
Ali Linan began covering Georgetown for Community Impact Newspaper in 2018. Her reporting focuses on education and Williamson County. Ali hails from El Paso and graduated from Syracuse University in 2017.
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