No contact visits were allowed at Hutto—relatives had to sit behind Plexiglas partitions and talk through phones in the old prison visiting room. In any case, few relatives visited, since Hutto was so far from where most of them lived. Deka Warsame, a Somali woman, was detained at Hutto for four months, along with her three children. Her mother and a sister lived in Columbus, Ohio, but she told her lawyer that, even if her family could have come to Texas, she would have been ashamed to have them see her looking like a criminal, “trapped behind Plexiglas.” If detainees had an attorney, as Warsame did, the attorney could talk to them without a partition. During such conferences, children were required to stay by their parents’ side. The governing idea of Hutto was that detainees would constantly supervise their children—as a result, it wasn’t deemed a child-care facility, and required no relevant licensing. But this also meant that children had to be in the same room even when, say, their parents recounted stories of torture, rape, or domestic abuse. Barbara Hines, a law professor who runs an immigration clinic at the University of Texas, in Austin, and who was one of the first legal representatives to see detainees at Hutto, began bringing crayons and markers with her, hoping to distract the kids.
The New Yorker
The Lost Children