Letter to editor: Close Berks prison for immigrant families

Earlier this yr, Governor Tom Wolf welcomed a Syrian household making use of for refugee standing to hitch their relations in Allentown, regardless of President Trump’s journey ban.

“You’ve been by means of rather a lot,” he informed six smiling members of the Assali household, and congratulated them for his or her “perseverance.” “It’s good to have you ever right here,” he added. “Thanks for wanting to return to Pennsylvania” (Philly.com, 2/17/17). Given Governor Wolf’s conduct on different immigration points, it’s arduous to see this as greater than a photograph op.

Later this month, the governor will host a dinner on the Governor’s mansion to rejoice Hispanic Heritage Month, adopted by one other dinner for refugees solely. However when it comes time to behave on probably the most salient instance of Pennsylvania’s abuse of immigrants, Wolf repeatedly fails to take motion.

In Leesport, Pennsylvania, within the state’s sixth congressional district, there’s a detention middle that holds immigrant households, lots of whom have come to this nation to use for asylum or for refugee standing. Moms, fathers, and youngsters are imprisoned within the Berks County Residential Middle (BCRC), so-referred to as due to its earlier use as an assisted dwelling facility. Some immigrant households have been detained for as much as 18 months whereas they await their immigration hearings.


Based mostly on earlier selections in federal courtroom, incarcerating households is unlawful. It’s also immoral. BCRC must be closed, and the people detained there must be launched to their households, to church teams, or group members whereas their immigration standing is being decided.

Governor Wolf has the facility to shut the Berks facility, however steadfastly refuses to take action. We will solely speculate why that’s. In response to constituent telephone calls, Wolf’s employees have repeatedly claimed that the middle is a federal facility, and that Pennsylvania doesn’t have the authority to shut it. Lately they’ve insisted that solely two households stay on the middle, a declare which is a careless lie. In response to immigration attorneys and to group members who’ve been granted periodic visitation privileges, there are at the least 30 households detained on the middle.

BCRC is just not a Federal facility. It’s owned and run by Berks County. The state has the authority to shut a county facility. This could possibly be completed by issuing an Emergency Removing Order (ERO), which is a authorized…

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