On Monday April 20th, Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Houston created a model cell of a childrens detention center in an effort to raise consciousness at UH about US immigration policy, and build opposition to the policy of family detention.
We built a cell (with help from David G!) out of chicken wire and wooden stakes with 8 foot by 10 foot dimensions. The same size as cells at the T Don Hutto Detention Center, a former medium security center which currently incarcerates immigrant families. Our friends and allies at the dragon valley real school came to help us both as actors detained in the cell, and by helping to gather signatures and distribute pamphlets about T Don Hutto and family detention.
We set up at 10am in Butler Plaza and stayed until about 3:30pm and in that time were able to gather 600 signatures to a petition asking Obama and Homeland Security Secratary Janet Napolitano to end the policy of family detention (you can sign an online version here), and distributed nearly 1,000 pamphlets produced by Grassroots Leadership about T Don Hutto.
While many students were uninterested in talking to us, the overwhelming majority of folks who were willing to stop and talk were supportive of the cause, and excited to sign the petition. While some students we spoke to were familiar with Hutto, the majority were not that familiar, and many were schocked that children are being locked up in prison, and even more so that a private company would profit from this incarceration.
We had media coverage from:
El Dia, where the struggle to close down Hutto is the front page story: Familias inmigrantes encarceladas: Unidas, pero en el sufrimiento (There is no static link on the El Dia page, its reposted here) and stories aired on Fox and Univision, though dont show up online. The Daily Cougar printed a photo from the protest on Tuesday and we were interviewed by their news director, no print story (yet).
In the near future we hope to deliver the petitions we have gathered to ICE officials and to the Obama administration. Thanks to everyone who came out and signed the petition!
View more photos at Houston Indymedia, thanks to Yvette for taking them!