Seeking to end detention of immigrant families in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Council members, immigration activists, and law students asked the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to investigate conditions at a detention center in Berks County, Pa., the Philadelphia Inquirer reports “The Berks detention center is a nightmare, worthy of international investigation,” said Councilwoman Helen Gym. She cited health and safety concerns including outbreaks of shigella, a gastrointestinal disease, and the rape of a 19-year-old woman by a guard.
The Berks County Residential Center, a 96-bed facility, is run by the county under a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It is where immigrant mothers and their children are incarcerated pending resolution of actions to deport them. Two similar but much larger facilities are in Texas. Advocates have urged Gov. Tom Wolf to issue an emergency removal order, shuttering Berks and relocating its population.