The Human Rights First (HRF) advocacy group has stated in a report that illegal immigrant parents and their children have been suffering physically and mentally at a United States detention center in Pennsylvania.
Although there are many Spanish-speaking families sent to detention in the US, the Berks County Residential Center in Leesport does not have a Spanish-speaking mental health specialist.
The HRF found that parents and their children retained at the institution have serious legal and health challenges, as well as mental disorders.
The report also shows that the families had difficulty accessing legal counsel, faced challenges in the immigration process and faced unaffordable bond demands for their release.
Olga Byrne, a Human Rights First official, said “The bottom line is that detention, even for short amounts of time, is detrimental to the health and well-being of a child.”
“The Obama Administration should immediately abandon this misguided approach and implement other measures, such as community-based programs, which are proven effective and less costly,” Byrne stated.
The report observed that many detained parents stated that their children had shown signs of stress, depression, anxiety and showed aggression towards parents and other children.
Moreover, the report says, “The practice of entering and shining flashlights into the rooms of sleeping families every 15 minutes throughout the night causes insomnia, fear and anxiety in children and parents held at the Berks facility.”