Immigrant families seek to join hearing on Berks Detention Center

A facility that was licensed (until recently) as a “child day treatment and residential facility” – but that actually operates as a jail, keeping families locked up and punishing them if they try to leave.  Children confined with adults other than their parents.   Inadequate medical care.   And an overall pattern, according to an Inquirer editorial, of “deplorable treatment.”

These are among conditions at the Berks County Residential Center, which houses immigrant families detained by the federal government.  Recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) revoked the facility’s license, but the county appealed and is continuing to operate the facility.

Now, the Sheller Center and its partners have filed a petition on behalf of some of the detained parents and children, asking to be heard when the appeal is considered.   “Our petition is an important symbol of the injustices faced by these detained families. It is essential that the voices and experiences of detained children and families be a part of the licensing appeal related to the Detention Center,” said Rhiannon DiClemente, a Temple 3L.

For more information, read the Petition to Intervene and recent news coverage.

UPDATE:   On April 5, the Administrative Law Judge overseeing the appeal denied our Petition to Intervene, on the ground that the families’ interest in the litigation “is adequately represented by the Department [of Human Services].”  We’re thinking about next steps.