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.”