Democratic members of the state’s congressional delegation call on Biden Administration to end a federal contract with Berks County detention facility

Written by on October 22, 2021

Democratic members of the state’s congressional delegation call on Biden Administration to end a federal contract with Berks County detention facility

By Anthony Orozco/ WITF

October 22,2021

The Biden administration wants to make Berks County Residential Center a women-only facility. Pennsylvania lawmakers say that’s a bad idea. (Laura Benshoff/WHYY)

Four members of the state’s congressional delegation are urging the White House and immigration authorities to break a contract with Berks County.  But  the deal for a female immigrant detention facility is finalized and shows no signs of changing course.  

State Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) is pleading her case against the Berks County Residential Center. 

She said converting the facility from holding asylum-seeking families to only women is not a solution to the nation’s immigration woes and can present other serious problems.

“Some people might say, ‘Oh, well, this is a good idea.’ Well, it’s just going to be women. detainees. We have seen this movie before. And it is a tragedy,” Dean said.

Dean says detaining women applying for asylum is not the answer.

“Our immigration system is flawed in very tragic ways. And I call upon the Biden administration to make sure that we modernize and humanize our immigration system,” she said.

Dean pointed to the all-women detention center in Irwin, Georgia, which shut down this year during a federal probe into unwanted and unnecessary hysterectomies. 

Her letter also notes a $75,000 settlement last year between Berks and an asylum-seeking mother who was sexually assaulted while detained in the facility in Bern Township. 

Other Pennsylvania lawmakers including U.S Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Chester) U.S Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia) and U.S. Rep Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia) also signed the letter. 

Dean says she has not received a response from the Biden administration yet.

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