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The Least of These (2009)

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THE LEAST OF THESE explores one of the most controversial aspects of American immigration policy: family detention. As part of the Bush administration policy to end what they termed the "... See full summary »


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THE LEAST OF THESE explores one of the most controversial aspects of American immigration policy: family detention. As part of the Bush administration policy to end what they termed the "catch and release" of undocumented immigrants, the U.S. government opened the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in May 2006 as a prototype family detention facility. The facility is a former medium-security prison in central Texas operated by CCA, the largest private prison operator in the country. The facility houses immigrant children and their parents from all over the world who are awaiting asylum hearings or deportation proceedings. The facility was initially activated with little media attention or public knowledge. Soon, however, immigration attorney Barbara Hines was contacted by detainees seeking representation, and she became increasingly concerned about the troubling conditions there. She joined forces with Vanita Gupta of the ACLU and Michelle Brané of the Women's Refugee Commission to ... Written by Marcy Garriott

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Family Detention in America





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A Powerful film about an Ugly Problem in Texas
20 March 2009 | by (Austin, TX, United States) – See all my reviews

This important film, which had its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, TX, sheds light on a very disturbing aspect of the American Judicial system – the Hutto Detention Facility in Taylor, TX (nor far from Austin) where asylum seekers, undocumented immigrants and their young children are being detained. The film brings to light two interrelated problems: 1) the detention of families in jail-like facilities that are not designed for young children and 2) the privatization of government services to for-profit corporations – which are by definition more interested in profit than serving the public interest.

The film is significant in that it explores what is going on at this troubling facility and also shows how the activist community has been able to litigate and force the government and the private company running the facility to make some significant improvements. The film, while clearly taking a position critical of the family detention policy, is not completely one-sided and does allow those who work at and support the community to speak up. Most importantly, it allows the imprisoned families to speak for themselves about the conditions and suggests that there may be cheaper more humane alternatives to incarceration. As we continue to struggle with impact of immigration on American society, it is useful to have films like this that bring the humanity and individuality of immigrants out of the hidden recesses. I hope this film gains a wider audience so that many people can learn about this worrisome government policy. How we treat the most vulnerable in our society is a true indication of our society's family values.

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