Berks County secrecy on future of immigration detention center spoiled by Washington Post report

Written by on March 5, 2021

Berks County secrecy on future of immigration detention center spoiled by Washington Post report

By Anthony Orozco / WITF

March 5, 2021

A 12 hour protest was held in front of the Berks County Residential Center July 17, calling for the release of immigrant families detained inside. Photo | Anthony Orozco / PA Post/WITF

After years of protest and political debate, the Berks County Residential Center stands empty — but perhaps not for long. All of the detained families have been released to live with sponsors across the country.

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People are demanding details from Berks County leaders about a proposal from the federal government for a new use for the detention facility.

The Washington Post has shed light on potential plans for the immigrant family detention center while county commissioners remain quiet. 

The Berks Board of Commissioners has reviewed a “white paper proposal” for the center and submitted a letter of support but have not shared details with the public.

County Solicitor Christine Sadler says Berks is following the lead of the U.S.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement

“The letter of support is an attachment to that white paper proposal. Per direction the county received from ICE officials yesterday, we are not permitted to release the letter of support that was part of that packet,” Sadler says.

County Commissioner Christian Leinbach would not share any information about the plans and says that’s not out of the ordinary. 

“We are not to provide public response or — not public response — media response that all of those media inquiries have always been turned over to ice and the feds,” Leinbach says.

The Washington Post is reporting the Department of Homeland Security is planning to convert the center into a holding facility strictly for women migrants.

Berks County has denied a right-to-know request about the proposal as well as a letter of support from the commissioners. 

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