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May 11, 2015

Ending Family Detention in PA

Pastor Bruce Osterhout attended a  Rally on Friday, May 1 at the Berks County Residential Center,
Bern Township, PA. The facility  houses families waiting for asylum hearings. He wrote this letter to the Reading Eagle about his concerns:

As resident of Berks County, I do not condone the county and our state
detaining mothers, fathers, and children who are seeking asylum in our
country.  These families have escaped horrendous violence in their home
countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.  Credible fear back
there has already been proved.  They came here seeking shelter only to be
effectively imprisoned and some sent back without an immigration hearing
where they could state their case.  The policies of this administration
and the lack of reform by Congress are causing further human rights
violations.

These families are being detained for the sole purpose of
sending a message to others in central America not to come.  That directly
contradicts the rule of law in which each case is supposed to be heard on
its own merits, not as a means to deter others.  I do not agree that with
our state’s contention that this facility is not a secure facility.  If it
were unsecure, why can’t the residents leave?  Under what state authority
were they placed here in the first place?

I am concerned about the grave
physical and psychological harm that prolonged detention has had and isberksresidential
having on these families, particularly the youngest children, who are as
little as 1 years old.  While the employees of this facility try to treat
these families with care, our national policies and rules make fair and
just treatment impossible to detain families at all.

Pastor Bruce Osterhout
Zion’s Lutheran Church, Shoemakersville PA
One of the Founders of the Greater Reading Immigration Project

Read more about the center from WITF Lawyers call Berks County Facility a Prison for Kids and the Reading Eagle Lawyers Seek Closure of Berks County Facility.

 

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