WHAT: Rally to protest the imprisonment of parents and children at Berks Family detention center
WHO: Community members, Make The Road, Migrant Power Movement, Serve The People, Juntos, Decarcerate PA, and other faith and community organizations
WHEN: May 2, 2015 at 11:00am
WHERE: Berks County Residential Center, 1040 Berks Road, Leesport PA, 19533
WHY: Parents and children, some of whom are just toddlers, are currently imprisoned at the immigrant detention center in Berks County, Pennsylvania. These families are fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries only to face cruel and indefinite imprisonment in the U.S. The women have been pressured to work cleaning the prison for $1 a day, or for no pay at all. Yesterday, 17 of the mothers wrote a letter demanding that they and their children be released to pursue their immigration cases outside of detention. We stand with migrant mothers who demand their liberation. The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare has confirmed in writing that the families are free to leave, yet we know they are being held against their will in violation of Pennsylvania law. We will protest for their immediate release. We demand the detention center be shut down and an end to all deportations.
Translation of letter from mothers imprisoned at the Berks family concentration camp:
23rd of April 2015
In the name of all the mothers locked in the center of detention, Berks Family Residential Center, in Pennsylvania. We are writing this petition where we ask to be released with our kids now that we are many women with our kids who have been in this place the max 13 months and well we think that this confinement is an injustice because we are not delinquents much less criminals, taking into account the psychological state of the kids a result of the confinement, among us are mothers who because we have a deportation, arriving by airport, passing a checkpoint or bridge they don’t give us the right to a bond, even asking for a bond for our kids is denied. For this reason we are doing this petition, with this we want to make known our desperation, because we have come to this country with our kids in search of refuge help since our lives are in danger in our countries, we are in this place because we don’t have any other option and we also don’t want to return to our countries to wait for us to be killed or for our kids to end up as orphans since a lot of us mothers are also fathers to our children. If the asylum officials gave us a positive result at our credible fear interview, why when we get to the court before the immigration judge they deny our right to a bond, and then after the final court they make us wait more than 3 months for an answer (Negative) and when the answer comes back negative for our fear of returning back to our countries we have to appeal, and wait up to 6 months with the hope of a positive answer, the reality is that our children don’t have the adequate nutrition and education, well with the situation in which we find ourselves they lose their appetite, also adding to their rebellion because of the confinement since they ask us to be let out of this confinement.
We deserve to be treated with dignity and to be respected with the right as people and to carry a free migrant process with our children, and we are not willing to continue here for more time in this confinement and we won’t sign deportations, as mothers we want to be helped and not take any type of measures, we ask that as humans you touch your hearts for the children and that you will help us resolve this problem or give us a solution to be able to go free, all of the signers of this letter commit ourselves to continue with our process outside of this jail, we commit ourselves to present ourselves at all of the courts that the Judge requests, because we also want to have legal documents so as to not remain illegally in this country, we ask all of this for our kids and we await a quick response to our necessities and we don’t want to feel rejected for being Hispanic and not American because that is racism.
We appreciate the time you took to read this request.