Berks kids released. Won't have to grow up behind bars.

25 August 2017, 15:41 UTC | United States of America

Four-year-old Carlos and 16-year-old Michael along with their mothers, Lorena and Maribel (all names changed to protect their identities), were ordered released from Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania by an immigration judge after nearly 700 days in detention. This follows the release of two other young boys and their mothers held in Berks for over 22 months on 7 and 14 August.

Amnesty International launched a campaign in June to end the detention of children and their parents held at family detention facilities like Berks County Residential Center. Currently, there are dozens of children and parents jailed at Berks, At least 3 other families at Berks have been held for more than 600 days. Some children have been held for half their lives and have learned to walk behind bars.

The families held at Berks fled horrific violence in their home countries, only to be put behind bars in the United States. This senseless imprisonment goes against our country’s shared values of equality and dignity. 

- Eric Ferrero, deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA.

Carlos and Lorena fled threats, intimidation and severe and repeated gender-based violence in Honduras before arriving in the United States in October 2015. Their release follows the recent releases of three-year old Diego and his mother Wendy (formerly referred to by the pseudonyms Josué and Teresa), and seven-year old Joshua and his mother Maria (formerly referred to as Antonio and Marlene). Each of the four families is seeking asylum in the US after fleeing traumatic and life-threatening events, including kidnapping threats and severe physical and sexual violence, in their home countries of Honduras and El Salvador.

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