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Immigrant detention center in Berks County will close

For more than a decade, the center had been one of three places where U.S. immigration enforcement would detain families with children.

  • Staff
  • Gabriela Martínez/WITF
Berks County Residential Center. (Laura Benshoff/WHYY)

Berks County Residential Center. (Laura Benshoff/WHYY)

The federal government is shutting down the Berks County Residential Center that has been the subject of many protests by immigration advocacy groups.

It’s ending its contract with Berks County on January 31st, according to The Reading Eagle.  The county received about $1 million in annual revenue from the federal government for running the detention center.

County spokesperson Stephanie Weaver said it was not clear if the 60 people who work there would lose their jobs due to the closure.

The Shut Down Berks Coalition, which alleged inhumane treatment of detainees at the site, celebrated the closure. In a statement, the group said it “looks forward to seeing everyone released to their families and communities.”

The center opened in 2001 to house migrant families who had been detained by the federal government. It sat empty for most of the first year of the Biden Administration and was converted into a women-only facility earlier this year.

Advocates had sought to permanently close the center. The county and federal government said the center creates jobs and is a necessary part of U.S. immigration policy.

U.S. immigration enforcement used the center as one of three places where it detained families with children.

In 2021, the center released the final seven families held there to sponsors while they awaited decisions on their asylum cases. The Biden Administration planned to turn the other two centers, both in Texas, into “reception centers” to hold families for a few days.

Reporting from a WHYY article by Laura Benshoff contributed this story. 


Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP Photo

FILE PHOTO: Hannah Hafter, left, Anjesus Marin and Marvin Hernandez, stand on a roadside near Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha’s Vineyard, Monday, Aug. 15, 2016, to protest the detention of undocumented immigrants from Central America in a detention facility in Berks County.



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