Tony Hefner on the Port Isabel Detention Center

Tony Hefner on the Port Isabel Detention Center

March 2, 2010

From Enrique Lopetegui’s article at QueBlog about the recent protests demanding the closing of the Port Isabel Detention Center in Los Fresnos, Texas:

“This is the pain,” [Southwest Worker's Union member Anayanse Garza] said, holding a petition, “these are the 243 signatures of the people at Port IsabeI that have been tortured, beaten and humiliated, and these orders were coming from [ICE's field office director] Michael J. Pitts, who is sitting very comfortably in his air-conditioned room, while other people are being tortured and threatened with force-feeding by having a tube inserted through their noses. I don’t care if the government says that immigrants have no human rights. Immigrants do have human rights. It’s not a crime to hunger strike, it is your right, and that’s why [Pitts] should be tried. He shouldn’t be allowed to even be there right now.”

… “In all my years, I’ve never seen immigrants raising a hand against guards,” said Tony Hefner, a guard at PIDC from 1983 through 1990. “It’s always been the other way around.”

Hefner, who says he was fired in 1985, got his job back in 1987, and was fired again in 1990, spent years gathering information about abuses at PIDC and will publish his findings, “real names and all,” in the book Between the Fences: Before Guantanamo, there was the Port Isabel Service Processing Center, due out in May. Some of those names, documents and pictures a la Abu Ghraib can be seen in his website,

“The very same thing that happened [in my time] is happening today [at PIDC],” said Hefner. “Stealing money from detainees, beating detainees up … If detainees from two different countries were fighting, they would handcuff them together and push them into each other and take bets on them.”

Hefner will be a witness for [PIDC hunger strike leader Rama] Carty during the trial.

“They’re framing this young man claiming that he did something that he didn’t do,” Hefner said. “That’s the standard policy there: If you stand up against them, they nail you. What Rama [Carty] is going through is nothing unusual.”

For more on the recent demonstration and on Rama Carty’s case, take a look at the rest of the article at QueBlog. For more information about the PIDC and about Tony Hefner’s time there, please read Between the Fences, due out in May from Seven Stories Press.

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