The Least of These

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,

Essential viewing…
– Culture Capital (Washington D.C.)

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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.

Buy the DVD!


Family Detention Centers Halted in Texas

We are grateful for the news that the RFP for a new family detention center in Texas has been rescinded.

More detail HERE.

ICE issues new family detention RFP; Advocates respond

January 2012

ICE has issued a Request for Proposals for 100 new family detention beds in Texas in a closed, secure facility. The new detention center would replace the Berks County Family Shelter Care Center in Pennsylvania, which will be closed in March.

A broad coalition of more than 65 national, state, and local immigrant, civil rights, and faith organizations has called on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to end the practice of detaining immigrant families, including small children and infants.

In an open letter to ICE director John Morton, the groups urge ICE to prioritize release and alternatives to detention for immigrant families awaiting asylum or immigration hearings.

Read more.


Detention Watch Network announces new campaign (2/25/10)

Today the Detention Watch Network launches its national campaign “Dignity, Not Detention: Preserving Human Rights & Restoring Justice” to halt expansion of the U.S. immigration detention system and demand that immigrants are treated with full respect for their human rights and dignity.

American ideals of democracy and liberty are built on the foundation of upholding due process and human rights for all people.  Contrary to these ideals, the U.S. government has created a climate of fear in our communities through the widespread abuse of power under the rapidly expanding immigration enforcement regime and the gross mistreatment of individuals held in detention.  At an annual cost of $1.7 billion, the government’s use of misguided enforcement practices have resulted in more than 300,000 people detained each year under appalling conditions in unregulated detention facilities with limited or no access to lawyers, and without hope for a fair day in court.

While John Morton, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE, the Department of Homeland Security agency which oversees immigration detention and deportation) announced last year that he plans to institute major reforms in the detention system, to date, advocates have seen little evidence of change, and human rights abuses continue to occur each day.

Latina Lista notes that the advocacy campaign portrayed in “The Least of These” led to the type of transparency than can force additional changes in the detention system.

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