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Protest at Berks immigration facility set for Sunday

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | May 5, 2016 2:27 PM
immigration_center2.jpg

FILE PHOTO: In this June 26, 2014 file photo, a federal employee walks past cribs inside of the barracks for law enforcement trainees turned into immigrant detention center at the Federal Law Enforcement Center (FLETC) in Artesia, N.M. The Homeland Security Department has privately acknowledged that a remarkable number of young families caught crossing the border illegally earlier this year subsequently failed to meet with federal immigration agents, as they were instructed. At the meeting, the ICE official acknowledged the no-show figures while explaining the administration's decision in June to open a temporary detention center for families in Artesia, New Mexico. A second immigration jail in Texas was later converted for families and can house about 530 people. A third such detention center will open in Texas later this year. Before the new facility in Artesia, the government had room for fewer than 100 people at its only family detention center in Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Juan Carlos Llorca, File)

(Bern Township) -- Advocates who want a Berks County immigration facility shuttered are set to make their voices heard: they're using Mother's Day as the theme for their rally Sunday.

The advocates plan to bring hundreds of Mother's Day cards to mothers inside the Berks County Residential Center on Sunday.

About 90 adults and children live at the center - run by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

Families seeking asylum in the U.S. are living at the facility in Bern Township while they await a decision.

It's one of three of such facilities in the country.

But some activists - like Adanjesus Marin of the group Make the Road PA -- say it's more like jail.

"Well, the mothers, who have been detained, many for over eight months, really are suffering from psychological trauma from being detained. And we think that it's important while we're fighting on the outside for their freedom to help lift their spirits on the inside," says Marin.

Marin says the state should issue an emergency release order and force the facility to close.

"We want to make sure that ICE knows that we're not going away, that the county commissioners know that there is a tremendous call within the county for the county to stop participating in the detention of families, and we continue to call on the state to do an emergency release order."

The state Department of Human Services pulled the center's license in February, but it continues to operate while ICE appeals the decision.

ICE says it respects protests that follow the law, and that "smart, effective immigration enforcement" is its goal.

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