ICE’s Remedy: Self-Deportation
*Leaked Documents Posted Below
Leesport, PA, March 18, 2016 –
After her first months in the Berks Detention Center that is currently operating without a license, Gladdis Carrasco’s daughter began exhibiting concerning symptoms of illness. With complaints unanswered for three weeks, she filed a distraught grievance on December 7th of 2015 explaining that for three weeks her four year old daughter had been sick and that the medical staff and site had done nothing to help her. She goes on to explain that she would like to be released so she could care for her daughter and that she had already been detained four months. The response she received from ICE was:
“Thank you! You may dissolve your case at any time
and return to your country.”
Carrasco was then referred back to the same medical staff who had left her daughter untreated for the last quarter of the previous year. This week, fully four months after her first attempt to seek care and three months after her official grievance, the child’s results came back positive for what appears at this stage to be an outbreak of the highly infectious disease, Shigellosis, causing vomiting and diarrhea in multiple children according to the mothers inside the facility.
Results of the children’s lab tests who have been tested have been withheld from their mothers and most of the children, according to the families, have been displaying symptoms for months. Children up to the age of 9 are now provided diapers because of the impact of the illness.
As reflected in Human Rights First’s reports (August 2015, February 2016), the Detention Center has a well-documented history of denying adequate medical and mental health services to children and families. The repeated abuses of immigrant families detained in Berks, and the Detention Center’s numerous violations of state law indicate that the detention of these refugee children and families must end immediately.
In late January, the PA Department of Human Services revoked the detention center’s license due to its failure to comply with state licensing regulations. The Detention Center is currently operating without a license while the Berks County Commissioners appeal the license revocation.
“As residents of Berks County we are extremely disappointed that our County Commissioners are wasting taxpayer money in defense of the indefensible. The Center is violating the law and they will not win, it’s time for the Commissioners to stop using our money to continue the suffering of these families.” Adanjesus Marin, Director of Make the Road Pennsylvania
“We demand the State of Pennsylvania immediately remove the mothers and children being held captive at the unlicensed detention center before anything else can happen to them. A shigella outbreak is very dangerous for the families but especially for the children. Left unattended, the state is liable for the known negligence occurring under its watch. We highly recommend the detention center be shut down given these new developments.” Erika Almiron, Executive Director of Juntos
“We are horrified by the ongoing mistreatment and medical neglect of the families being unjustly held at the Berks Detention Center. The practice of family detention serves only to further harm and traumatize people who are fleeing unsafe and violent conditions to seek asylum in the US. We call on the Berks County Commissioners to immediately end their appeal and help shut down this unsafe facility. Furthermore, it is time for the Department of Homeland Security and ICE to be held to account for their inhumane detention policies.” Sundrop Carter, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition
The Shut Down Berks Campaign is a grassroots coalition fighting to shut down the Berks County Detention Center immediately and end family detention. Members include Detention Watch Network, GALAEI, Juntos, #Not1More, Make the Road Pennsylvania, Migrant Power Movement, PICC, UUPlan and We Belong Together.