Green Party of Pennsylvania
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sunday, May 16, 2021
PA Green Party Immigrant Rights Update
By Jenny Isaacs
Since 2019, the Green Party of Pennsylvania (GPPA, www.gpofpa.org) has been on record calling for the closing of the Berks County Detention Center. Many people were shocked to learn that Berks had been housing immigrant families (including children) since 2014. They were unaware that family detention and mass deportation as tools of immigration enforcement did not originate with the Trump administration.
As of February 27, there are no more families and children being detained at Berks. HURRAY!!! Unfortunately, Berks County Commissioners are not being very transparent about whether or not their contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will continue. On March 26, Make the Road PA and the Sheller Center for Social Justice at Temple University Law School filed suit against the commissioners demanding that they publicly explain and discuss their negotiations with ICE and share relevant materials with the public. This would not stop Berks County from contracting again with ICE. So the fight continues to end reliance on detention and deportation as tools of immigration enforcement.
The statewide fight for driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants is building power in 2021. A bill in Harrisburg, HB 279, would allow all PA residents to secure a standard driver's license and ensure data privacy for all drivers in the commonwealth. For more information on this crucial fight for workers and for the human right to mobility contact Driving PA Forward. Please contact your state Representative and urge their support.
Shut Down Berks recently joined a national newly-founded coalition, the Family Liberation Abolitionist Network, calling for a permanent end to all family detention. With Detention Watch and many other organizations across the country, they celebrated on April 29 when Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Freedom for Families Act (HR 53) into Congress to ensure "that no child or family is threatened by detention, separation, or emotional trauma because they are seeking safety in America."
Concerned citizens may help by urging their Congressional representatives to co-sponsor and support the Freedom for Families Act (HR 53), and if they want to help "Melt ICE in PA" they may contact Shut Down Berks.
I am proud to announce that Immigrant Rights Action, the grassroots group I helped found in Doylestown in 2017, received Department of Justice recognition in May 2021 as a recognized nonprofit legal immigration services provider. We are the first and only provider in Bucks County. This will be an important expansion of our ability to uphold the rights of all immigrants regardless of status.
Jenny Isaacs was chair of Bucks County Green Party and leader of the Green Party of Pennsylvania Green Wave Team (2017—2019).
The Green Party of Pennsylvania (GPPA) is an independent political party that stands in opposition to the two corporate parties. GPPA candidates promote public policy based on the Green Party’s Four Pillars: grassroots democracy, nonviolence, ecological wisdom, and social justice/equal opportunity. For further information about GPPA, please visit www.gpofpa.org. Please follow GPPA on social media:
Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/pagreenparty/ and
For more information please see:
“Berks detention center is now empty, but will it stay that way?” by Jeff Gammage, Philadelphia Inquirer, March 2, 2021, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/berks-detention-center-is-now-empty-but-will-it-stay-that-way/ar-BB1e9ZK5;
“PA Green Party Says, ‘Shut Down Berks Detention Center, NOW !’” Green Party of Pennsylvania News Release, June 11, 2019, https://www.gp.org/shut_down_berks_detention_center;
Driving PA Forward, http://drivingpaforward.org/;
Shut Down Berks Coalition, http://paimmigrant.org/campaign-to-shut-down-berks/. To join their email list, https://www.facebook.com/ShutDownBerksCoalition/app/100265896690345/ and
Immigrant Rights Action of Doylestown, https://immigrantrightsaction.org/