(*This story was updated at 10:21 a.m. on Monday, 3/1/21 with additional reporting)
All of the families residing at an immigrant detention center in Berks County have been released, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey’s, D-Pa., office said Sunday.
The Scranton Democrat’s office learned Friday from the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement that the families were released on Friday from the Berks County Residential Center, the Reading Eagle first reported. Casey’s office did not have further details, the newspaper reported.
The next step is to permanently close the center so that no future family or child is forced to go through what these families have endured.
— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) February 28, 2021
The Berks facility was one of three nationwide that house migrant families and their children. Activists had long pressed for its closure. Officials in Berks County managed the facility and received reimbursement from the federal government.
*More from the Reading Eagle:
As of last week there had been seven or eight families including about 20 people housed in the center, said Bridget Cambria, a Reading immigration-rights advocate and lawyer representing detainees in the center.
Those detainees’ families were notified Thursday night or Friday morning that they’d be released, she said. They have since all arrived safely with their families in California, Texas, Virginia and elsewhere as they await asylum hearings, she said.
Those who’d been detained had come to the U.S. from Russia, Afghanistan, Central America and Cuba, she said.
In a tweet, the advocacy group Shut Down Berks, which has lobbied for the facility’s closure, expressed caution.
The fight is not over yet. We still don't know if Berks will be permanently shut down, they could bring new families again. And Karnes and Dilley, the family prisons in Texas, are definitely still operating. We got way more work to do to #EndFamilyDetention
— Shut Down Berks Coalition (@ShutDownBerks) February 28, 2021