State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

The State House Sound Bites Podcast is now called State of the State and is a part of PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization to hold Pennsylvania’s government accountable to its citizens.

Unclear if ICE raids will impact PA, but advocates say they breed fear regardless

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jul 11, 2019 10:06 PM
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In this Nov. 16, 2018 file photo, an immigrant who entered the United States illegally is checked before boarding a deportation flight to El Salvador by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Houston. (Photo by AP)

 

(Harrisburg) -- Undocumented immigrants and organizations that assist them are bracing for potential raids this weekend by the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Details on the raids seem to be in flux, but the New York Times and other outlets have reported they are slated for Sunday, and may target immigrants in at least 10 large cities who already have deportation orders.

Even if Pennsylvania cities are not targeted, detainees may end up here--particularly at the Berks County Family Residential Center.

It's one of just three facilities nationwide that detains families and the only one not in Texas. With just 96 beds, it is also the smallest.

Sundrop Carter, who runs the Pennsylvania Immigration & Citizenship Coalition, is also part of a collective working to shut down the Berks Center.  

"We're generally against detention," she said. "But the practice of family detention in particular is so egregiously harmful that we'll continue to advocate to close the detention center."

Carter said her group and community leaders are on guard for raids--but noted, they've had an impact even if they don't happen.

"The announcement creates fear and chaos without even having to do the follow-up. People go back in the shadows," she said.

President Donald Trump initially said raids were slated for late last month, but pushed the operation back. Ken Cuccinelli, the acting US Citizenship and Immigration Services director, has since said the raids are "absolutely going to happen."

A spokesman for ICE said he can't confirm any details about the raids or where people taken into custody might be housed.

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