On April 8, 2020, Free Migration Project, Aldea – The People’s Justice Center, and private counsel sued the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (PA DHS) in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on behalf of families detained at the Berks County Residential Center for failing to take emergency action to protect them from infection by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The need for Governor Wolf to direct PA DHS to issue an Emergency Removal Order to close the Berks detention center is urgent: COVID-19 is sweeping ICE detention centers in Pennsylvania, yet PA DHS has refused to protect the detained children, some as young as one year old. PA DHS’s lack of action to address the grave public health risk will have consequences not just for the families held at the family prison, but for staff, their families and communities, and ultimately the public health of all Commonwealth residents.

On April 16, 2020, the PA Supreme Court denied the King’s Bench petition, instructing that the matter could be refiled in state Commonwealth Court on an expedited hearing schedule. On April 22, 2020, FMP and our litigation partners sued PA DHS in Commonwealth Court. On April 29, 2020, the Commonwealth Court denied Berks County’s application to intervene in the case.

More information is available in the press release announcing the King’s Bench lawsuit.

Court filings relating to C.N., et al. v. DHS:

King’s Bench Petition

Commonwealth Court