Senate approves “baby jails” as attack on immigrants continues

Austin – Senator José Rodríguez, Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, released the following statement regarding passage of Senate Bill 1018, which would rubber stamp imprisoning immigrant mothers and their children in federal detention centers operated by the for-profit prison corporations, CCA and GEO Group:

The state’s existing standards for general residential operations (GROs) are the result of years of consideration and discussion by policymakers and child care experts. The state should not sanction or establish a process by which some children are held in substandard facilities that meet existing requirements of GROs only through exceptions or waivers. Nothing in this legislation would address reported issues of neglect and abuse arising from housing multiple individuals, including those who are not related and of the opposite sex, in one room.

The purported intent of this legislation is to close a perceived gap in the oversight of the children housed in these detention centers. However, by making exceptions or providing waivers of the minimum standards required of GROs, this legislation fails to provide that necessary oversight. 

This legislation essentially amounts to a “rubber stamp” of these detention facilities that operate in a manner that is contrary to the principles by which we seek to protect children in this state, including what is in the best interests of the child. By passing this legislation, we are creating a second-class of children subject to a lower, disparate standard from those who are under the custody of the state, or are unaccompanied minors. This is unacceptable.

S.B. 1018 benefits the two for-profit prison corporations by legitimizing their operations in Texas at the expense of mothers and children who seek nothing more than to escape violence at a level that is inconceivable to most Americans. This latest attack on immigrants goes against our values as Texans and Americans.


José Rodríguez represents Texas Senate District 29, which includes the counties of El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Jeff Davis, and Presidio. He represents both urban and rural constituencies, and more than 350 miles of the Texas-Mexico border. Senator Rodríguez currently serves as the Chairman of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus, and is a member of the Senate Committees on Natural Resources and Economic Development; Transportation; Veteran Affairs and Border Security; and Agriculture, Water, and Rural Affairs (Vice Chair).


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