A group of immigration attorneys and advocates representing mothers and children being held at a family immigration detention center in Pennsylvania have requested the state attorney general close the facility.
The Berks County Residential Center is unlawfully imprisoning children under Pennsylvania law, according to Attorney Matthew Archambeault, who wrote the joint letter to Attorney General Kathleen Kane. He argues Pennsylvania law is clear in that only children who have been declared delinquent or are awaiting delinquency adjudication may be detained.
“None of the children detained within are delinquent or alleged delinquent,” Archambeault writes in the letter signed by five lawyers and advocates. “They are all refugees seeking asylum here in the United States.”
The lawyers are asking Kane close the facility and consider civil and criminal penalties against those responsible for, they allege, illegally holding children under Pennsylvania law.
Officials with the attorney general or the Berks County Residential Center could not be immediately reached for comment.
The Berks County Residential Center is one of three facilities across the country used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to hold mothers and children who have been detained for alleged immigration violations. The government has recently increased its capacity to house mothers and children as it seeks to deter additional illegal immigration..