For Immediate Distribution: January 31, 2023

YORK, Pa.  — Berks County announced the end of its contract with ICE and the Berks County Detention Center in Leesport, Pennsylvania at the end of November, 2022. Today marks the closing of the Berks County Detention Center, an effort led by the Shut Down Berks Coalition, consisting of the immigrant community of Pennsylvania, immigrant advocacy organizations, and allies. This eight-year, people-powered campaign began in 2015 after a 19-year old mother was sexually assaulted at Berks. Community members made it their mission to close this detention center, whose long history of abuse and violence meant it needed to be shut down once and for all. 

As the community heals, we will remain vigilant that this center is never used to inflict harm on the immigrant community again. This victory continues to prove the power of organizing and the power of the people in making their voices heard.  Our fight does not end here. The following are quotes from some of the community members that were part of the effort to close down Berks:

“This was the first campaign I was a part of when I joined CASA. Hearing of the abuse and violence that went on at Berks was painful. No one should have to go through the abuse that went on in that detention center. It’s gratifying to Know that this center is finally closing. There will be no more abuse there, families will not be separated, and children will not cry for their mothers. Thank you to all the organizations and community members who led this effort. We can achieve great victories when we unite our efforts,” CASA Lead Organizer Martha Hernandez said.

“This victory feels like a dream. I feel happy, content, and free. Closing Berks Detention Center is the best thing that could have happened. I spent more than one month in detention and my sick daughter was never cared for or given the medicine she needed while I was in prison. This detention center created a lot of suffering, and I am overjoyed to see it finally close. The same freedom that I have [now] should be given to other immigrants in Pennsylvania and across the country,” CASA member Liliana Perez said.

“As we celebrate the closing of Berks County Detention Center, we also recognize the abuse and violence that continues to happen in detention centers across the country. The closure of Berks is only the beginning of future campaigns to end detention. Make no mistake that this is a people-led win that fought for years to bring an end to the dehumanization of immigrants at this prison,” CASA Pennsylvania Director Daniel Alvalle said. 


With over 125,000 lifetime Latino, immigrant, and working-class members across 46 US states, CASA is the foremost immigrant organization in the mid-Atlantic region and a national leader in supporting immigrant families and ensuring that all individuals have the core support necessary for full participation in society. Now a national immigrant powerhouse, CASA creates change with its powerbuilding model blending human services, community organizing, and advocacy in order to serve the full spectrum of the needs, dreams, and aspirations of members. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter at @CASAforall.