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Saturday, June 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Private Immigration Prison Guards|Beat Them Senseless, 14 Children Say

SAN ANTONIO (CN) - Prison officials repeatedly beat 14 children at the Abraxas Hector Garza Center for unaccompanied minors, and some were beaten unconscious, the kids say in Federal Court. The children say officers at the private immigration prison, owned and operated by Cornell Cos., unconstitutionally punished them for offenses such as "talking too much with (their) attorneys".

This is the latest in a string of federal lawsuits alleging wholesale violations of the Flores v Reno class-action settlement. The children, mostly from Central America, say prison guards repeatedly beat them senseless for no reason.

One child says a guard beat him from behind while the child was praying.

More than one says a guard beat him unconscious. One says his beating was so severe he was hospitalized, and when he described his beating to his legal representative, the defendants transferred him to Indiana.

One said he was beaten so badly that "he would rather be deported than remain at the Abraxas center."

The children say guards punched them in the mouth, slammed them against walls, beat them while they were restrained, beat them with chairs, denied and interfered with their right to counsel, called in San Antonio Police to assist in the assaults, and deported at least one child illegally to El Salvador. They say that when they reported the assaults to directors of the prison, they did nothing to stop the beatings.

Many of the assailants still work at Abraxas, the complaint states. It adds, "The Defendants have lost control of the Abraxas facility and the Plaintiffs and other children are at all times in danger of serious harm."

The children are represented by Jennifer Harbury of Weslaco.

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