Obama’s Fictionalized Account of Berks County Children Jail
At 11 pm this past Friday, the Obama administration filed a trove of documents with U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee to defend against allegations that their continued detention of thousands of children has “…consistently violated the Settlement since the summer of 2014 and this Court’s Orders since August 2015…Their conduct is lawless and contemptuous.”
Ironically, the most most recent disclosed emphatically shows that the Obama administration has nothing but contempt for the Judicial branch. Leon Fresco, Obama’s lead family detention lawyer, claimed that the attorneys for the children “make claims that are inaccurate, misleading, or an attempt to improperly substitute their judgment regarding the operations of ICE family residential centers in place of the judgment of those authorized by Congress to administer these facilities”
Fresco must have had a freudian slip because the evidence his client submitted proves the only misleading party to the lawsuit is the Obama administration.
This will be the first in several articles that analyzes the Feds’ voluminous evidence dump and shows that the Obama administration is committing an elaborate, systematic fraud on the Court, the Plaintiffs, Congress, and the U.S. public.
To defend allegations regarding Family Detention Centers or Family Residential Centers (FRC) and border patrol holding cells, the DHS submitted 29 exhibits.
Each declaration from ICE addresses distinct subject. This article will address to ICE’s specific allegations regarding the conditions of detention at the Berks County Residential Center.
However, every declaration ICE submitted with respect to family detention centers alleges overlapping facts to defend prolonged detention of families. This general and more complex subject will be addressed in a later article.
Berks County Children Jail
Joshua Reid, an Assistant Field Office Director in ICE’s Philadelphia Office, made both direct and indirect misrepresentations of facts in a failed attempt to erase its brazen, ongoing breach–detaining dozens of children for 4 to 10 months in secure detention facilities–of U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee’s orders issued in July and August of 2015.
Reid’s declaration states in Paragraph 13 under the heading Complaints Regarding Observational Checks at Night, that:
“Several declarants indicated that ‘guards’ shine flashlights on the residents several times (15 minute intervals) at night making it difficult to sleep. As an initial matter, there are no ‘guards’ at the BCRC. Counselors are stationed throughout the facility to ensure the safety and security of residents and to assist with any issues or needs.”
A current Berks County Job Posting for “Shelter Care Counselor” directly contradicts Mr. Reid’s claims. As you can see below, part of the job requirement to be a “counselor” is the “Ability to restrain residents of all ages” and to provide “care for dependent children and families within a minimum secure , residential environment.”
In response to mothers’ complaints that guards at Berks shine flashlights on mothers and children every 15 minutes throughout the night, Mr. Reid continued to openly misrepresent both facts and law:
“Observational checks are required by 55 Pa. Code 3800.57(a): “While children are at the facility, children shall be supervised during awake and sleeping hours by conducting observational checks of each child at least every hour. During overnight hours, BCRC staff conduct room checks every 15 minutes. BFRC implemented 15 minute checks after consulting and agreeing with Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (PA DHS) that it would be best practice…BFRC is currently working with PA DHS to change the nighttime room check requirements from every 15 minutes to once every hour.”
There are multiple dishonest components in just this one paragraph. First, Mr. Reid did not disclose that BFRC’s is currently following 55 PA. Code 3800.274(7), which states “The following additional requirements apply to facilities in which secure care is provided:…(7)
(7) Children shall be supervised by conducting observational checks of each child within 15 minute intervals during sleeping hours.”
In other words, the BFRC continues to operate as a secure care detention facility, which was a critical factor in PA DHS’ decision to effectively revoke BFRC’ state license:
“[the PA DHS] believes that the current use of the Berks County Residential Center (BCRC) as a family residential center is inconsistent with its current license as a child residential facility…If the County commits to cease its current use of the BCRC as a secure facility for refugee families and provides a plan to transition the facility to a use that is consistent with its existing license.”(emphasis added)
It is illegal under PA law to house children such as those at BFRC in secure care facilities. Therefore, PA DHS would not state that 15 minute nighttime observational checks–which is solely a requirement for children detained in secure care facilities–are “best practice.”
Moving along Mr. Reid’s train wreck of a declaration, he responds to several mothers who complained that they are unable to freely leave BFRC without permission:
“The BFRC is an un-secured facility where residents can freely move about within its non-restricted areas and its outdoor recreational spaces. Insofar as the residents are in ICE custody, they are prohibited from leaving the center and its grounds without authorization or supervision. If a resident were to leave BFRC without authorization, they could be considered a fugitive and subsequently may be arrested by ICE officers depending on the circumstances…These counselors do not have the authority to arrest a resident”
“BFRC is an un-secured facility; there are no physical impediments to a resident departing the facility. If a resident were to leave BFRC without authorization, however, they could be considered a fugitive and subsequently may be arrested by ICE officers…”
ICE’s claim that BFRC is an un-secured facility is a reckless lie.
Mr. Reid attempts to persuade the Court that Berks is un-secure by fraudulently representing that it is the inverse of the PA Code’s definition of “secure-care” facilities for children as stated by 55 Pa. Code 3800.5:
Secure care—Care provided in a 24-hour living setting to one or more children who are delinquent or alleged delinquent, from which voluntary egress is prohibited through one of the following mechanisms:
(i) Egress from the building, or a portion of the building, is prohibited through internal locks within the building or exterior locks
(ii) Egress from the premises is prohibited through secure fencing around the perimeter of the building.
But ICE’s own evidence directly contradicts Mr. Reid’s claims. The Berks Family Residential Handbook repeatedly states that there is, in fact, physical impediments to departing the facility:
The Center is comprised of two floors and an outdoor campus. The first floor, where you first entered the Center is the activity (A) floor and the second floor is the bedroom (B) floor. The outdoor campus is outlined by a post and rail fence. P. 16.
When not participating in an organized activity, residents must stay within the boundaries of the post and rail fence. Should you need to leave this area, to retrieve a ball, etc., you must first notify staff supervising the area.
Additionally, Guards are physical impediments to stop Mothers and Children from leaving the facility. The fact that Guards are living organisms does not preclude them from being a physical impediment to prevent children and moms from departing BFRC.
The contract between Berks County and ICE to operate BFRC specifically requires that Berks provide the following:
E .Guard Services: The Service Provider agrees to provide stationary guard services on demand by the COTR or Contracting Officer and shall include, but is not limited to, escorting and guarding residents/detainees to medical or doctor’s appointments, hearings, ICE interviews, and any other location requested by the COTR.
Furthermore, the Contract specifically calls for Berks County to have plans in place to apprehend residents who attempt to escape.
Attempts to apprehend the escapee(s) shall be in accordance with the Emergency Plan, which should comply with ICE Detention Operations Manual regarding Emergency Plans. •
Although Berks County guards do not have the authority to make an official “arrest”, the contract requires Berks County staff to apprehend residents who attempt to escape the BFRC.
Mr. Reid (again, certainly assisted by a DOJ lawyer) intentionally used the word “arrest” instead of “apprehend” or “restrain” to create future space for plausible deniability. If the Court aggressively questions its claims that Berks is “un-secure”, ICE will say that it’s policy was always to restrain or apprehend any mothers or children who attempt to escape the facility.
Mr. Reid, instead, only said that ICE may or may not arrest and prosecute mothers and children with the federal crime of escape.
After all, ICE residential standard 2.10, Use of Physical Force and Restraints begins with, “…staff is authorized to use the minimum force necessary…for prevention of escape…”
Mr. Reid’s defended allegations that detained men are commingled with with detained mothers and children at Berks with the following: “Both male and female residents are precluded from entering the bedrooms of occupied by an adults.”
A PA DHS violation report dated April 28, 2016, ordered Berks County to stop placing female children in rooms with unrelated adult males after making finding the following violation
“Child shared a bedroom and bathroom with 2 male children and 2 adult males. The resident bathrooms located in each bedroom do not have solid doors for entry. The entryway is covered by a curtain…There is 13″ of mesh at the top of the curtain, and a 17″ opening at the bottom.”
Perhaps Mr. Reid believes he can claim he did not perjure himself because he only claimed that the rules preclude children of the opposite sex from sharing a bedroom but did not claim that the rules were adhered to. But Mr. Reid was directly responding to the specific, factual allegations of Declarants Celina and Karen and thus cannot avail himself of any defense to perjury. The allegations are either true or not. Mr. Reid claimed the allegations were not true.
In sum, Mr. Reid’s declaration is a fictionalized account of the Berks County Residential Center designed to lull readers into believing its numerous false statements of fact.