CGRS Files Amicus Brief in Third Circuit Case Involving Families Detained at Berks County Family Detention Center in Pennsylvania

Friday, July 7, 2017

Detained Children Face Imminent Deportation Despite Having
Approved Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS), joined by 10 other non-profit organizations and pro bono counsel Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis LLP, filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Osorio-Martinez, et al. v. Sessions, on appeal from denial of a preliminary injunction by a federal District Court.

The case concerns the fate of four mothers and their children who have been detained at the Berks County family detention center in Leesport, Pennsylvania since 2015. The children have approved Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) Status and based on that special protective status have pending applications to become permanent residents. The government—in an unprecedented move—is seeking to deport the families due to prior orders of expedited removal issued against them (see our previous discussion of the validity of those orders here), despite the U.S. government recognizing that it is not in the children’s best interests to return to their home countries. The families have asked the appellate court to overturn the District Court’s decision to deny their request for a stay of removal to allow the children’s permanent residency applications to be fully adjudicated and to allow the mothers to remain with them during the process, ensuring family unity.

CGRS presented arguments and country conditions information to assist the court in considering the likely risk of serious harm that the families face if removed to their countries-of-origin in the Northern Triangle region of Central America. In addition, amici highlight the public interest weighing in favor of allowing the families to remain in the United States until their immigration applications for relief receive full and fair consideration.

CGRS Co-Legal Director Blaine Bookey states: “The District Court acknowledged that the risks the families face in El Salvador and Honduras are real, but paid those risks short shrift when denying their request for a stay. We remain hopeful that the appellate court will correctly weigh the relevant factors and reverse the District Court’s erroneous order, halting—at least temporarily—the irreparable physical harm or death that may befall the families if removed.” 

CGRS led the amicus effort, joined by the following signatories:
Americans for Immigrant Justice
Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC)
HIAS Pennsylvania
Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
New York Immigration Coalition
Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC)
Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES)
Sheller Center for Social Justice at Temple University Beasley School of Law
Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights