Migrant Women, Children Detained for Months in PA

They're starting a hunger strike in protest
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2016 10:53 AM CDT
Migrant Women, Children Detained for Months in PA
Immigrant children line up in the cafeteria at a family detention center in Texas. Women and children at a similar center in Pennsylvania have been held for months to more than a year.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

In August, Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson said the amount of time illegal immigrants spend at family detention centers is 20 days. But the New York Times has a look at 67 women and children who have been held in a Pennsylvania detention center for months on end, some of them longer than a year. "We wake up and we see the same walls, the same ceiling, and we think to ourselves, 'When will this end?'" one 16-year-old girl at Berks County Residential Center tells the Times. State Sen. Bob Casey says the families fled "unspeakable horrors" in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. One 6-year-old has been diagnosed with PTSD from violence in his home country. Casey says America "can do better than the treatment they are receiving."

In Berks, the families have no social media, aren't allowed outside a fence, and can't send their children to outside schools. They are paid $1 a day to clean the detention center. Nearly 30 of the women at Berks are suing over their denial of asylum due to what they claim were improper hearings. That suit was rejected Wednesday when an appeals court ruled they had no right to sue as they entered the country illegally. The ACLU and others say this is a massive shift in US law, as slaves and even detainees at Guantanamo have been given the right of habeas corpus in the past. The women are appealing the decision and launched a hunger strike in protest. Read the full story here. (More asylum-seeker stories.)

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