Detention of immigrant children in a former medium-security prison in Texas leads to controversy when three activist attorneys discover troubling conditions at the facility. This compelling documentary film explores the role – and limits – of community activism, and considers how American rights and values apply to the least powerful among us.
Powerful and moving… a film about a fight for social justice that forced change…
– Mark Steiner, WEAA, Baltimore
A stirring peek inside one of the most divisive issues facing the country…
– Peter Martin, Cinematical
The film asks to what extent Uncle Sam will punish kids for the sins of their parents,
even if that sin is wanting to be an American.
– Will Coviello, BestofNewOrleans.com
– Culture Capital (Washington D.C.)
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2009 UPDATE: The Obama administration announced in August 2009 that it would begin the process of overhauling the nation’s immigrant detention system. The Department of Homeland Security immediately stopped sending families to the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, the former medium-security prison near Austin, TX that is the subject of “The Least of These.”
This outcome was the result of a unique collaboration of advocacy efforts, involving filmmaking, grassroots organizing, litigation, public education, and legislative efforts. However, substantial and disturbing problems continue to exist throughout the American immigrant detention system. Advocacy initiatives, such as the “Dignity, Not Detention” campaign just launched by the Detention Watch Network, are more important than ever.
2014 UPDATE: An influx of unaccompanied minors, and minors with parents, has led DHS to re-institute the practice of family detention, in several facilities. One of these facilities is run by a private prison company, a situation many thought would never be allowed to re-occur. In a recent NPR interview, immigration attorney Barbara Hines (lead advocate in “The Least of These”) stated: “If we are going to have [detention facilities for immigrant children] – and I am opposed to them – they should be run by licensed child welfare agencies.”