As usual, stellar reporting from Alexandra Villareal on what’s been going on inside the Berks County Residential Center since May.
But after 10 families who had stayed long-term at the facility were deported in May, men and their children replaced them, said Karen Hoffmann, a legal advocate for immigrants at Berks.
[One] woman, who was recently released from Berks after a months-long stay and asked to remain anonymous while her paperwork is processed, said: “All of the women were uncomfortable with this situation.”
When an influx of men arrived a few months ago, the county-run center placed them in dormitories adjacent to mothers and their kids, Hoffmann said and ICE has confirmed.
In May, while one of the mothers was resting in her room, a male resident reportedly walked in uninvited. Alarmed, the woman told her attorneys that she asked what he was doing there. He responded that he was searching for water, despite the cafeteria and snack areas being in other, distant parts of the center.
Some of the women at Berks have fled from domestic violence and sexual abuse in their countries, and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder because of their experiences.
Read more about the inexcusably reckless situation ICE has created at Berks at NBC New York >>
NBC Philadelphia used one of my shots from last night’s Ferguson solidarity protests in Philly, after the announcement of the decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown.
More of my photos and video from last night on are up on Demotix.
I should change the description of this blog. “Freelance journalist” doesn’t really apply anymore — I’m mostly law student these days. What to post, then, but low-res photos and highlights of the last 24 hours:
– Drive from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia with accidental detour to New Jersey (6 hours).
– Quick grocery store run to get ingredients for boyfriend’s award-winning (seriously!) “Fire Rescue” chili — including four jalapenos and copious amounts of cayenne — for next day’s soup sale fundraiser.
– At midnight, finally arrive home to find key doesn’t work in the front door of my apartment building. Belatedly notice a handwritten sign that the locks have been changed.
– Call phone number on sign. Get voicemail.
– Per further instructions, “KNOCK[ED] LOUD!!!” Repeatedly.
– 20 minutes go by. It’s 40 degrees out.
– Longsuffering neighbor finally comes to the door in robe and slippers. Gives me a copy of the new key.
– Throw chili fixins in Meghan‘s wonderful crockpot that she generously donated for the occasion.
– Sleep (3 hours)
– Drink coffee #1.
– Drive visiting boyfriend to airport.
– Sadness and/or lack of sleep cause me to overshoot the return trip not once but twice, first by going south when I should’ve gone north, then vice versa.
– Figure out how to turn on heat in apartment for the first time.
– Fix the watery chili, lug crackpot on walk to school. Covering towel does a surprisingly good job of keeping me from sloshing any on myself. Meghan, I did not drop it!
– Buy coffee #2.
– Go to meeting with professor and try to make sense. Notice hands are shaking and I’m playing too much with the knickknacks on her desk.
– Go to class #1.
– Sell chili.
– For breakfast/lunch I eat the bottom scrapings, and a Fruity Pebbles Krispie concoction from the table next door.
– Buy coffee #3. Hands still shaking; now stomach starting to protest too.
– Class #2. While trying not to focus on weird bodily sensations in Torts, I am cold called to discuss the case of a woman who was mugged for $19,000 worth of jewelry in the parking lot of a Sam’s Club. Begging the question, if you own jewelry that nice, what are you doing in a Sam’s Club?
– Answer in words — English words, even (I think), make it through the rest of class.
– Head home, empty crockpot noticeably easier to carry. Don’t know what time it is or what I’m supposed to do now so I figured I’d update this blog.
So that’s what’s been going on with me. How’s everyone out there? I mean, hi Mom.
"Only after the last tree has been cut down, Only after the last river has been poisoned, Only after the last fish has been caught, Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten." Cree Indian Prophecy