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Between the Fences: Before Guantanamo, There Was the Port Isabel Service Processing Centerby Tony Hefner
Synopses & Reviews
Something at the Texas detention facility is terribly wrong, and Tony Hefner knows it. But the guards are repeatedly instructed not to speak of anything they witness. In the Rio Grande Valley, one of the most poverty-stricken areas in the United States, good jobs are scarce and the detention facility pays the best wages for a hundred miles. The guards follow orders and keep quiet.
For six years, Tony Hefner was a security guard at the Port Isabel Service Processing Center, one of the largest immigration detention centers in America, and witnessed alarming corruption and violations of basic human rights. Officers preyed upon the very people whom they are sworn to protect. On behalf of the 1,100 men, women, and children residing there on an average day, and the 1,500 new undocumented immigrants who pass through its walls every month, this is the story of the systematic sexual, physical, financial, and drug-related abuses of detainees by guards.
The Port Isabel Service Processing Center continues to hold detainees of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement whose immigration statuses or citizenship have not been officially determined or who are awaiting repatriation. On April 22, 2009, detainees there began a hunger strike, alleging violations of due process, inadequate access to medical care and legal resources, and various other abuses.
Tony Hefner is a human rights activist and founder of the Bearing Precious Seed Ranch ministry in southern Texas for local Hispanic children. He has appeared on Inside Edition, PBS, and many other radio and television news programs where he reported the abuses taking place at Port Isabel. Tony and his wife Barbara now live in northern Michigan, where he continues his fight with national officials for new investigations.
Book News Annotation:
With the attention given to the poor treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo, it's often forgotten that the US has for years run an extensive detention system for those who illegally enter the country--and that this system has long been alleged to routinely violate the rights of those people in its charge. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Hefner worked for six years as a security guard at the Port Isabel Service Processing Center in Texas, where he witnessed first-hand violations of detainees' human rights and corruption on the part of officers who ran the center. Given that charges of maltreatment and corruption are still being made against the immigration detention system (now run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement), the reissue of this book is especially timely. Annotation Â©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The first insider account of life inside a US detention center written by a former guard.
About the Author
Tony Hefner created the Bearing Precious Seed Ranch ministry in Southern Texas for local Hispanic children while employed by the Bayview INS detention camp. After witnessing human rights abuses within the camp, he began a fight for justice that is still raising awareness about the treatment of detainees in America. Born Laredo, Texas. Raised in Windham, Ohio and Akron, Ohio
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