GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — Williamson County commissioners decided to end their Intergovernmental Services Agreement (IGSA) with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and its operations at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center.
The county’s contract will end on Jan. 31, 2019. In a 4-1 vote, the county is also terminating its agreement with CoreCivic, Inc., the private company that manages the detention facility.
The federal detention center in Taylor, which opened in 2006, only houses women detained by ICE. Activists from Grassroots Leadership said the facility has about 500 women being held there right now, and approximately 40 of the detainees are mothers recently separated from their children.
Claudia Munoz, who works as the immigration programs director for Grassroots Leadership, said the commissioners’ decision came as a pleasant surprise, but she said there is much more work to do.
“We know that this doesn’t mean [the women] get released right away, so we will have to fight for that,” Munoz said. “We have six months to make sure that these women are not just transferred to another detention center.”
Munoz and her group organized a rally and march Tuesday morning ahead of the county’s vote, where dozens of people held signs calling for the closure of the facility.
County Commissioner Terry Cook released a statement after she voted in favor of ending the county’s contracts with ICE and Core Civic.
“I have appreciated the passion from activists that has been expressed to me and this Court in regards to T. Don Hutto,” Cook wrote. “While this vote today does not solve the larger issue of immigration, the future of the women detained there, or the closing of the facility, I hope these activists do not celebrate this vote, but redouble their efforts in changing immigration policy at the federal level.”
The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office currently investigates any criminal allegations at the center. Since its opening, numerous groups have held protests outside the facility claiming sexual assault against detainees.
American Gateways, a nonprofit that serves the Central Texas immigrant community, says Tuesday’s vote “shows that the Williamson County community puts families above financial gain.”