Isabela Dias

Isabela Dias is the fall 2019 editorial fellow at the Texas Observer. She was previously a reporting fellow with Pacific Standard magazine, reporting on immigration and human rights. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Nation, Slate, and the Columbia Journalism Review, among other publications. She's a graduate of Columbia University.
Gabriel García Márquez working at his laptop.

Gabriel García Márquez and the (Comforting) Case for Embracing Failure

A new Austin exhibit reveals how much the acclaimed Colombian writer struggled to make a living and find success.

If you’re a writer on Twitter, there’s a fair chance this letter has popped up on your timeline in the past few days. It’s a rejection from the New Yorker—something many writers have received—but this one was sent to none … Read More

A detainee sits in a holding cell at the Stewart Detention Center, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in Lumpkin, Ga. The city's 1,172 residents are outnumbered by the roughly 1,650 male detainees that ICE said were being held in the detention center in late November. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

ICE Quietly Lowers (Already Low) Standards at Some Immigrant Detention Facilities

The changes—which affect 18 facilities in Texas—include giving guards more leeway to put migrants in solitary confinement, as well as no longer requiring outdoor recreation areas.

On December 19, during the news lull just before the holidays, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made public changes to its National Detention Standards (NDS), which govern the conditions and management of some of its detention facilities. The agency says … Read More

family separations

‘Baby Jails’ Chronicles America’s ‘Shameful’ Treatment of Migrant Kids

In his new book Baby Jails, author Philip Schrag reflects on the past and future of a threatened ruling that limits the detention of migrant children.

Philip G. Schrag has written more than a dozen books over his years as a lawyer and director of the asylum law clinic at Georgetown University. But his latest, Baby Jails: The Fight to End the Incarceration of Refugee Children … Read More


Report: Sexual Assault is Common in Immigrant Prisons, but Survivors Aren’t Getting Help

Only three of 23 rape crisis centers serving areas where ICE detention centers are located reported providing therapy or other services to detainees.

We’ve known for a while that sexual assault is likely widespread in immigrant lockups. Adult detainees filed 1,224 sexual abuse complaints with the Department of Homeland Security between 2010 and September 2017. And in the past five years, thousands of … Read More

In Texas, ICE is pursuing three new 10-year private contracts for immigrant detention centers, which could include Hutto.

Activists Rally for the Closure of Hutto Detention Center as Private Contract Rumors Swirl

Former detainees were among those criticizing ICE's attempt to secure a 10-year private contract for the facility and two others in Texas.

Dozens of activists rallied outside the T. Don Hutto Residential Facility in Taylor on Saturday, denouncing Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s push to secure long-term private contracts for detention centers in Texas. Among the protesters there to support the 512 women … Read More

A secured entryway is seen at the Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City, Texas on Thursday, July 31, 2014. Federal officials gave a tour of the South Texas immigration detention facility that has been retooled to house adults with children who have been apprehended at the border. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

When ICE Emptied Out an All-Women Detention Center in Texas, Chaos Ensued

Women formerly detained in Karnes County Residential Center have been lost in the shuffle, facing moved or cancelled court dates, high bonds, and legal confusion.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced in September that it would turn a detention center just outside of San Antonio back into a family residential center “in the near future.” The Karnes County Residential Center, a private facility run by … Read More

Hilda Ramirez

The Fear—and Hope—of Living in Sanctuary

After fleeing domestic violence in Guatemala, I’ve been living inside a Texas church for the past four years. I’m exhausted, but I won’t stop fighting.

Hilda Ramirez is an asylum-seeker from Guatemala who came to the United States in 2014 after fleeing domestic violence. Ramirez and her son, Ivan, now 13, were detained for 11 months in ICE’s Karnes County Residential Center in South Texas. … Read More


If DACA Ends, It Would Be a ‘Catastrophe’ For Dreamers

As many as 700,000 people could be directly impacted by the end of the Obama-era program.

On June 15, 2012, Juan Carlos Cerda was installing a fan on the second-floor bedroom of a house in Preston Hollow, a wealthy neighborhood in north Dallas, when President Barack Obama appeared on television. Standing in the Rose Garden at … Read More