Could Brownwood soon house migrant children?

The non-proft group Trabajo Libre, headquartered in Midland, is currently working on a deal to house immigrant children at the former Texas Feathers Location in Brownwood. The deal, if it is allowed to go through, would bring about 150 children of varying ages to the Big Country. Tonya Wethington, director of operations for trabajo libre is excited about the opportunity to bring immigrant children to Brownwood. “Brownwood is the perfect location, there’s a plentiful water supply, ample healthcare providers, extravagant shopping and dining, and a high level of cultural understanding and many many churches to provide for these children.”

In addition to housing the children, the group is also hoping to bring the plant back online. “We are in the process of locating 75 bunk beds to place in the rear of the facility. We are planning to keep some of the old production machines in the front of the building in the hopes that with OSHAs blessing we can start a work program where we put the children on an assembly line producing pillows just as the plant did some years ago,” added Wethington. “We will even have a ‘worker of the month’ competition that rewards the child who makes the least mistakes coupled with the fastest production time. The child who wins the competition will be granted amnesty under a new legal provision from Washington.” When pressed about clearly violating child welfare and labor laws, Wethington was dismissive and reminded us that the children technically aren’t citizens and shouldn’t be granted due process.

The children will also be allowed to make their own bedding for their bunk beds on the company machines. “We really thought this would give the kids a sense of accomplishment and it would save us some money,” added Wethington.

The re-opening of the plant should help stimulate a rather stagnant Brownwood economy. Pillows will be shipped out to retail distribution centers directly from the plant. “We have already reached out to Dollar General and Family Dollar to try and get our pillows in their stores. We see this facility having a million dollar impact on the Brownwood economy each year, not to mention the 150 jobs it will create.”

The former INS detention facility is thriving in Mesa, Arizona
The former INS detention facility is thriving in Mesa, Arizona

When asked about the possibility of children having allergies to down feathers, Wethington said those children would have other opportunities, “we will work with local contractors to try and secure an opportunity for any child who has an allergen to feathers so that they too may have an opportunity to work. It’s almost pecan harvest time, after all”

Holly Jefferson, director of curriculum for sister organization Maquiladora Migrante discussed plans for educating the children. “Children will be offered classes at the plant on Saturdays, negating the need for the children to attend BISD or any other district in the county. We really do not want to be a burden on the backbone of education with these children, so we have devised a curriculum that includes some basic math, science, and writing skills, as well as an entire course dedicated to the custodial arts.”

Jefferson added that one of the most important things the children can be taught is self pride. “When those children see what beautiful pillows they can make, that will be more of an impact on them than any education would ever be.”

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