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Success Story!


 

Four mothers and children were detained in Berks Centre for nearly 700 days. Amnesty campaigned for the release of these four families, and in August 2017, all were freed from Berks.

Antonio (7-years-old)*, Carlos (4-years-old)*, Josué (3-years-old)*, Michael (16-years-old)* and their mothers Marlene, Lorena, Teresa and Maribel were held at the Berks County Residential Center for nearly 700 days. Each family is seeking asylum in the US after fleeing traumatic and life-threatening events, including kidnapping threats and severe physical and sexual violence, in their home countries of Honduras and El Salvador. Three-year-old Josué learnt how to walk and talk while locked up in the Berks detention facility

The urgent action that pushed to free these four families is part of #TheBerksKids campaign to end the detention of children and their parents held at family detention facilities anywhere in the US.

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Detentions in EEUU


 

For years, the United States has used detention centers as a way to “deter” irregular immigrants. In recent years, the use of detentions centers across the US has expanded to the point of having the largest immigration detention system in the world. In 2016 over 350,000 people were held in civil immigration detention centers. This does not include irregular migrants incarcerated in federal prisons. For asylum seekers coming from Central America this system poses a problem. 

They are forced to leave their country looking for safety and could end up locked up for months in a prison-like facility where their trauma from their horrendous journey is compounded. Their only choice is to languish in detention or give up their claim for asylum and go back to a highly probable death sentence.


 

Under international law, detention of asylum seekers and migrants should be used as a last resort and under exceptional circumstances. Alternatives to detention should always be considered before a government decides to place irregular migrants in closed detention conditions. The US immigration detention system falls far short of complying with international law.  

Under President’s Trump Administration, and its executive orders, it seems that the problem for asylum seekers will only get worse.

The Administration is restricting access to asylum at the U.S. southern border, targeting families in particular as well as others fleeing violence. Some of the world’s most vulnerable, including children and their parents, are being pushed back, locked up, and criminalized simply for asking for refuge.

Family

Detention


 

Despite criticism of family detention in the United States, the use of family detention centers remains intact, and current plans could only see its expansion as US officials continue to expand policies and support budgets that dramatically expand immigration detention.

In the summer of 2014, over 67,000 unaccompanied children from Central America flooded the US – Mexico border because of the increasing violence in the countries of the Northern Triangle. In response, the United States government significantly ramped up the use of detention for children and families

Today, there are currently three family detention centers in the US, known as “baby jails,” where even infants are jailed.  One is in Berks, Pennsylvania, and the other two are in Texas.  Hundreds of families are held at these centers every day.

Berks County

Residential Center


 

There’s only one place in the US where you can hold a child who’s never committed a violent action or crime for nearly 700 days and that place is Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania. As many as 60 fathers, mothers, and children are currently being held in Berks.

Berks family detention center is the oldest of these “baby jails,” and a clear example of a family detention center that violates a number of rights for asylum seekers in the United States. Children are placed in dorms with unrelated adults. The center has inadequate facilities for health, education and psychological support for children.

Regardless of our recent success, many kids are still learning to walk and talk in jail. It’s just not right. Tell the Administration to stop locking up children and their families for seeking safety. Release #TheBerksKids and families in detention.

Take action now!