Universal City Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously votes against VisionQuest’s for-profit child detention center again

Coalition of 26 Local Advocacy Groups Testify Against Child Detention

UNIVERSAL CITY — Last night, members of the SA Stands coalition spoke out against a second proposal for a child detention center at the Universal City Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. The Commission voted unanimously 7-0 to recommend against the rezoning request that would have allowed the facility. City Council will have the final vote on January 21.

VisionQuest, a for-profit company with a history of child abuse, submitted a proposal for the facility last year. That first proposal was voted down by both the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council in November, 2019. The more recent proposal was later submitted by a church who plans to sublease the property to VisionQuest. A similar proposed facility was also rejected by the San Antonio Zoning Commission and City Council late last year.

An overflowing room of advocates and residents once again demonstrated clear community opposition to the detention center. Twenty-two speakers, all against the proposal. Before announcing his vote, Commission Chairman Ronald Jackson repeated SA Stands’ reference to Universal City’s Zoning Ordinance, saying that the proposal does not match the ordinance’s purpose “to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare of the present and future citizens of the city”.

VisionQuest strategy in both Universal City and San Antonio is to target vulnerable black churches in order to further their profits in the name of religious liberty. This predatory false narrative should not be permitted. We continue to encourage all of the faith community to reject VisionQuest’s attempts to detain immigrant children. 

Photos and more details from the meeting are available at Facebook.com/SAStands and on Twitter @SA_Stands.

City Council Denies VisionQuest’s Zoning Request for New Child Detention Facility

Coalition of 26 Local Advocacy Groups Stopped VisionQuest’s Detention Growth

SAN ANTONIO — Yesterday, members of the SA Stands coalition testified in opposition to the zoning request that would allow VisionQuest, a for-profit detention company, to open a new facility on the Eastside. Earlier this year VisionQuest signed a lease with Second Baptist Church in order to repurpose the church’s community center into a residential space that could detain immigrant unaccompanied minors. To proceed, the company needed a zoning change to be approved by the San Antonio City Council.

SA Stands’ opposition is against callous companies that profit out of suffering, and will challenge any local entity, whether governmental or not, that enters into a relationship with the detention and deportation machine. SA Stands respects the work Second Baptist Church has done in our community, however, their good intentions will not be able to overcome the harm caused by for-profit detention. City Council made the right choice yesterday by rejecting this rezone request.

This was the fourth time in a month that community members took a stand against VisionQuest, attending Zoning Commission meetings in San Antonio and Universal City, and the respective City Council votes on the initial recommendations. In all four cases, local officials decided against for-profit detention. SA Stands is proud of this strong mobilization of our community and looks forward to continuing the fight for immigrant rights together.

Yesterday, we heard many testimonies from VisionQuest supporters that this facility was not a detention center but a shelter,’ said Jessica Azua, from Texas Organizing Project and member of SA Stands. “Let me be clear immigration detention at the border, or at “shelter-like” facility is still immigration detention — it means that people are not free to leave. VisionQuest will never be welcomed in San Antonio.”  

“As an educator, I know the trauma that immigrant children and parents go through with just the threat of detention,” said Luke Amphlett, from SA Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel and member of SA Stands. “I can only imagine the trauma that these children will have at this type of facility. Not only will their education be derailed, but they will live with this experience for the rest of their lives. Our city made the right decision by saying no to VisionQuest and no to child detention.” 

VisionQuest has a history of child abuse and neglect in other cities,” said Debra Hernandez from RAICES and member of SA Stands. “San Antonio should not allow children to be under their care, once those children are placed inside the facility, the door will be shut and no one will ever know the reality of the treatment they receive.” 

Victory! Universal City Council unanimously votes against VisionQuest’s for-profit child detention center

UNIVERSAL CITY — Last night, members of the SA Stands coalition urged Universal City council members to deny VisionQuest’s rezone request to open a new child detention facility. 

With a packed room, for the second time this month, immigration advocates ardently argued that city residents and neighbors of San Antonio did not want an abusive for-profit company to operate in their community. After the public hearing, the City Council voted unanimously against the proposal. Earlier this month, SA Stands members testified at Universal City’s zoning commission, which also voted 7-0 against the rezone request, passing their recommendation on to City Council. Coalition members argued that children deserve to be free and with their families, and that no city should facilitate the trauma of detention, much less for a profit.

“I am relieved that City Council made the right decision and followed the Planning and Zoning Commission’s unanimous recommendation. As shown by an overflowing room at both meetings, this project would clearly go against the values and wellbeing of our community,” said Katy Murdza, a member of the Texas Organizing Project and SA Stands

“VisionQuest claims to provide a safe space for children,” said SA Stands member Natalie Lerner. “However, the company has a history of physically and verbally abusing children in its care, and profits off imprisoning and traumatizing children who are already in a vulnerable position. That is not what ‘safety’ looks like.”

“Our Native American children were forced into boarding schools, that action separated them from their language, families and communities,” said Frankie Orona, executive director of the Society of Native Nations and member of SA Stands. “It’s really sad that children are still being treated this way, we should treat human beings as human beings.” 


SA Stands is a strong collaborative in the city of San Antonio and Bexar County that is committed to the protection, safety, dignity, inclusion, and freedom of all immigrants, regardless of race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity or special ability. Through organized campaigns, advocacy efforts, community education, and direct action, SA Stands will mobilize against any laws and efforts that criminalize, incarcerate, deport and divide our communities. For more information, visit sastands.org or Facebook.com/SAStands