Wed | Nov 22, 2017

Immigrant family detention center granted child-care license

Published:Thursday | May 5, 2016 | 12:00 AM
In this June 2014 photo, young detainees are being escorted to an area to make phone calls as hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed and held at the US Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center in Nogales, Arizona.

HOUSTON (AP):

One of the nation's largest detention centres for families caught crossing the southern US border has received a temporary residential child-care licence, amid discussions over whether the federal government will keep using such facilities.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services granted the six-month licence last week to the 500-bed facility in Karnes City, southeast of San Antonio, agency spokesman Patrick Crimmins said Tuesday. The private prison firm that runs the facility for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, GEO Group Inc, had requested it after a federal judge said last year that kids couldn't stay in the centres because they weren't approved to care for children.

Immigrant advocates criticised the decision to grant the temporary licence, citing reports of inadequate medical care and other issues as reasons why such facilities shouldn't get licences. One group, Grassroots Leadership, said on Tuesday that it and two mothers detained at Texas facilities with their children had sued in Austin to stop the licensing.

The licence approval for the Karnes City facility comes as apprehensions of unaccompanied immigrant children along the southwest border increased by 78 per cent for the period from October 1 through March 31, compared to a year earlier, and the number of apprehensions of families more than doubled.