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Austin organization training volunteers to be advocates for detained asylum-seeking women

Grassroots Leadership -- a non-profit organization that works to end mass incarceration, among other issues -- held a meeting Saturday afternoon at their headquarters in East Austin in a room full of eager community members who want to help women detained at a Hutto detention center.

AUSTIN — Leaders of an Austin organization want women who are detained at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center to know they're not alone.

Grassroots Leadership -- a non-profit organization that works to end mass incarceration, among other issues -- held a meeting Saturday afternoon at their headquarters in East Austin in a room full of eager community members who want to help these women.

Nearly three dozen people from the Austin area, mostly women, attended the session to find out how they can help.

According to the non-profit, there are more than 30 asylum-seeking women who've been separated from their children at the Hutto detention center.

Organizers are teaching the volunteers how they can be advocates for these women and their rights while visiting them at least once a month to make sure they're okay and their voices are heard.

"Just the thought of not having my children with me tonight with me, knowing if they're okay, if they're not, and what's going to happen to me afterwards, you know ... I have to do something," volunteer Liliana Lozada Beverido told KVUE.

Some of the volunteers who attended the meeting are already being paired up with some of the women at the detention center, according to organizers.

"It’s vital for these women whose kids have been taken from them to be able to have contact with community members and be able to speak out in their own voices," organizer and immigration researcher Bethany Carson said.

The organization's leaders are calling for the immediately release of these women while they wait for their asylum cases to be heard.

They're also planning a march for Tuesday morning at the Williamson County Commissioners' Court where commissioners will consider whether to terminate the agreement the county shares with I.C.E. over the Hutto detention center.