(Photo credit: Doug Kasputin for The Washington Post)

A group of Central American mothers and children seeking asylum are being unlawfully and indefinitely detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement at a "family detention" center in Berks, Pennsylvania. Twenty-two of these brave women, who have been detained with their children as young as 2 years old for between 287 days to more than a year, began a hunger strike in an attempt to draw attention to their plight, and 17 of them are entering their third week of the strike (four have been released or promised release, and one has had to stop her hunger strike for health reasons).

The "Madres Berks" started their hunger strike on August 8, 2016, after Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson officially stated that immigration authorities have been “ensuring the average length of stay at [family detention] facilities is 20 days or less.”

ICE and the Berks county staff have mistreated these mothers and children seeking refuge over the course of their long imprisonment, including sleep deprivation (shining flashlights in their faces every 15 minutes all night long, every night), dragging mothers and children from their beds in the middle of the night for deportation, and much, much more.

ICE has been retaliating against the hunger striking mothers, including: interference with the mothers access to legal counsel and medical attention for the children; cutting off the mothers' access to computer and internet, presumably to try to prevent anyone from knowing of their plight; threatening them with deportation; and threatening to take custody of their children away from them.

What you can do to help:

(1) Sign and share this petition! Use the hashtags #ShutDownBerks, #EndFamilyDetention and #MadresBerks
(2) Donate! https://www.crowdrise.com/free-the-f...round-advocate Aldea - the People's Justice Center was established to address legal, medical and social issues surrounding the immigrant community of the greater Reading, Pennsylvania area. Their primary, most immediate project is focused on providing removal defense for every mother and child trapped in family detention in Berks County, Pennsylvania.
(3) Take action!

*Contact the President, your U.S. Senators and U.S. Congressional Representatives and ask them to #ShutDownBerks http://www.aila.org/takeaction#/;
*E-mail Pennsylvania ICE Field Office Director Thomas Decker at thomas.decker@ice.dhs.gov and voice your support for the release of these families;
*Call the Berks County Commissioners at (610) 478-6136 to demand that Berks county cease operating a prison for immigrant children and families seeking asylum for its own profit;
*E-mail Ted Dallas (tdallas@pa.gov) from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services tdallas@pa.gov, in charge of the WELFARE OF CHILDREN in the Commonwealth and ask why they are allowing the refugee prison to remain open even though the license has been revoked;
*Support Make the Road Pennsylvania http://www.maketheroadpa.org which has been active in this fight; and last, but not least,
*Send your message of support to the Madres Berks to let them know that they are not alone, and we are supporting them and fighting for their rights and their freedom! https://actionsprout.io/35D460

The #MadresBerks THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!! Together we can #ShutDownBerks!

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