FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2015
Mothers at Berks Family Detention Camp Launch Work Strike, Demand Not To Be Left Behind
Community members hold press conference in solidarity with mothers who will continue strike until the detention camp is closed
Philadelphia – A diverse coalition of community organizations, faith leaders, advocates and individuals released from detention will hold a press conference Thursday, June 11th – to announce the launch of a work strike led by mothers detained at Berks. Citing unfair treatment, neglect, and abuse, ten mothers are refusing to work inside the facility until they and their children are released and Berks is shut down.
The Berks family detention camp, near Reading, Pennsylvania, has avoided scrutiny directed in recent weeks at two other facilities in Texas, but local advocates and detained families have denounced similar patterns of abuse and prolonged detention. Mothers report children suffering from diarrhea, vomiting and fever without proper medical attention; inadequate education and care for children suffering from depression and trauma; and sexual abuse of a nineteen-year-old mother by a guard. In April seventeen mothers sent a letter to ICEdemanding that all the families at Berks be released, but never received a response.
“When I started my journey to the US, all I could think about was keeping my son safe,” explains Cristina, detained at Berks with her twelve-year-old son for 14 months. “But after several months locked up my son didn’t even want to eat anymore. He cried all the time and kept telling me he wanted to leave, but he doesn’t understand the danger we’d face if we were sent back. He still wakes up shaking with nightmares from the trauma.”
Fernanda Marroquin of Migrant Power Movement adds, “Our community cannot turn its back on these families. The imprisonment of children is inhumane and a violation of Pennsylvania and national laws. The mothers are forced to clean the prison for $1 a day, or in some cases for no pay at all. Since the strike was launched yesterday guards have begun to add the names of children, some as young as 13, to the list of work assignments. Some of the families have been held for more than a year and face abusive treatment from guards and staff on a daily basis.”
With growing support from the House and Senate, faith groups, and advocates to end the practice of family detention altogether, families inside Berks, along with Pennsylvania community members, are demanding their freedom and an end to the injustice of all immigrantdetention.
What: Press Conference in support of striking mothers inside Berks
Who: Community and faith leaders, formerly detained families, attorneys
When: Thursday, June 11th at 11am
Where: Juntos: 2029 S. 8th St., Philadelphia PA
Families recently released from Berks available for interview in person or by phone in English or Spanish.