Thursday August 30, 2018
The governor should do what's right and shut down the Berks County Residential Center.
The Berks County Residential Center, a Bern Township facility operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, should be shut down. This type of inhumane detention center does not belong in any civilized society.
The people held in the center left their homes due to violence and horrific conditions and came here with their children to seek asylum. Some have been detained for years under unacceptable conditions. "On many occasions, our children have thought about suicide because of the confinement and desperation that is caused by being here," read a letter sent by 22 women detained at Berks in August 2016. A center employee was convicted of institutional sexual assault of a detained mother. Other accusations against the center include denying appropriate health care and housing unrelated detainees of the opposite sex together.
Berks receives $1.3 million annually for the federal government's use of the center. In 2016 the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services moved to revoke the facility's license to house children. The agency said the center was not being operated as the license intended. Berks County appealed the decision, and the center has been permitted to continue operating as that appeal moves through the legal system. To me, it seems to be all about the money.
Readers should urge Gov. Tom Wolf to do what is right. He has the capability. He needs to shut this facility down now.
Detention center should be closed