Local nonprofit files FOIA against ICE for local detention center contracts

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Local nonprofit Grassroots Leadership announced Sept. 10 its plan to submit a Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, request to the  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for access to its contract with T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor.

Grassroots Leadership—which works to end prison profiteering, mass incarceration and deportation—continues to fight to close the facility, which remains open even after Williamson County Commissioners Court voted June 2018 to end its contract for the facility with ICE and CoreCivic, a company that owns and manages private prisons and detention centers.

T. Don Hutto currently hosts more than 500 women who are suspected by U.S. immigration officials of being in the country illegally, according to the organization.

Williamson County’s role with the facility involved administering monetary transfers between CoreCivic and the federal government, according to the contract.

The county’s contract with the facility formally ended January 2019, but the facility is still open after ICE established a new temporary contract extension with CoreCivic for the maintenance of the facility, according to a Grassroots Leadership news release.

Organization leadership said ICE refused to provide any documentation of its new contract or its compliance with federal procurement law.

Organizers said it is unclear how long the contract extension will last and unclear how ICE was able to enter a new contract with a private corporation without engaging in a competitive bidding process as designated in federal procurement law, according to the release.

Grassroots Leadership is represented by the University of Texas School of Law Civil Rights Clinic and will file a suit in federal court to compel release of this requested contract and procurement documentation, the release said.

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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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