Most of Hutto’s inmates are in the process of applying for political asylum, refugees from violence-plagued and impoverished countries like Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Somalia, Palestine, Lithuania, Romania, Iraq, or some other one of 41 countries in the throes of political turmoil or war, or suffering the effects of climate change.
There are around 490 detainees there at any given time, and they come from many different countries. They have not been charged with a crime against the United States, and are locked in cells and forced to wear prison uniforms.
The inmates are immigrants, or children of immigrants who are in deportation proceedings, or who are applied for asylum and waiting for decisions. It can take up to a year or more to receive an asylum decision. Many detainees die as prisoners before they reach the end of their waiting time, due to untreated medical conditions or abuse.
Nearly half of Hutto’s residents are children, including infants and toddlers. Most of the rest are women, many of them in varying stages of pregnancy. The women receive little or no prenatal care whatsoever. The children are dressed in prison garb, eat very unsatisfactory prison food, and only receive one hour of play time, and one hour of schooling per day, in English only. The kids are getting sick from the food. There were complaints of lack of a pediatrician on site, lack of privacy in the bathrooms, rotten food, lack of age-appropriate toys, nothing to write with, etc, etc. It was also reported that children were threatened by guards that harm would be inflicted on their parents if they didn’t behave, among many other abuses, including rape of female inmates in front of their children.
The detainees are not violent, nor are they criminals, and sometimes there is no reason for them to be there other than that during a ICE raid on a factory, they had the misfortune to be found without their papers on them. After being detained and imprisoned, they are powerless to obtain the papers or evidence necessary to prove their innocence of any wrong-doing. Besides not having an opportunity to prove their innocence, they are also denied legal representation. And most of the time, their families are completely unaware of their whereabouts. They are not allowed any visitors and speaking to them is prohibited. In fact, entrance to the facility by the United Nations for inspection purposes was denied!
The families are only allowed to be together in their pods during the day time, but in the evening, the children are separated from the mothers, and locked into individual cells. If a baby or a small child is ill, or crying, the mothers are not allowed to go to their children to take care of nor to comfort them.
The kids have no toys, can not run and play outside like other children, and live in a constant terror that their mothers will be taken away by the jailers, and that they will never see them again. They do not understand why they are being punished. They receive little, if any, medical or dental care. They are not allowed to have even a stuffed animal to snuggle at night.