Grassroots Activists Stand Up For Immigrants' Rights

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WACO (July 12, 2014) Immigrant Rights protesters took center stage in downtown Waco to highlight what they call unfair treatment at the Jack Harwell Detention Center.

The demonstration began near the Farmer's Market where activists vowed to deliver Spanish-language legal materials to detainees held at the Harwell Center. Immigration attorney Susan Nelson says U.S. Law guarantees civil detainees the right to access a law library to learn more about their legal status and steps to fight for their right to remain in the country.

"None of the detainees whom we interviewed during our visit to the Harwell Detention Center knew that the legal library existed," she said.

Last month, members from Texans United for Families, Grassroots Leadership, the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition, and the Hutto Visitation Program wrote a joint letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement asking them to shut down the Harwell Center as a result of what they call limited " medical care, visitation, recreation, dirty uniforms, a lack of access to legal processes and attorneys, and the penal nature of the facility."

Nelson estimates a majority the average age of the foreign detainees is 19 with most of them coming from El Salvador.

Governor Rick Perry urged President Barack Obama to tour the border with him earlier in the week. The President instead met with Perry in Dallas to discuss possible solutions to what he calls an humanitarian crisis and called on Congress to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The reform, he says, will deploy 20,000 Border Patrol troops to help curb the large number of immigrants that have been streaming in from Central America.