Facility Allows U.S. to Detain Immigrant Families

A change in immigration policy now allows families who are in the U.S. illegally to be detained. Last summer, Immigration and Customs Enforcement began holding entire families, including small children, at a converted prison outside of Austin, Texas.

Officials say that before the facility opened, illegal immigrants with children were often released with a notice to appear before an immigration judge. But the immigrants rarely made their court dates.

Greg Mead, director of the Hutto Family Residential Facility, says the facility is crucial to make sure these illegal immigrants don't disappear.

But the facility, a converted high-security prison, is coming under increased criticism. Attorneys for the detainees, many of whom are seeking political asylum, say it is abhorrent that small children, including babies, are being incarcerated.

The Hutto facility currently holds 375 people, more than 200 of them children; its maximum capacity is listed at 512 people. Everyone, from adults to children to infants, wears uniforms of either blue or green.

Today, for the first time, the federal government allowed reporters to tour the facility. The journalists were not allowed to speak to the families being held there, however — a policy that officials said was meant to protect their privacy.

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