Judge orders return of undocumented immigrant deported from Pa. detention facility

 Earlier this month, advocates call for closing the Berks Family Detention Center and the release of its residents. (Bill Hangley/WHYY)

Earlier this month, advocates call for closing the Berks Family Detention Center and the release of its residents. (Bill Hangley/WHYY)

A federal judge has ordered immigration officials to bring back an undocumented immigrant who was deported from a federal detention center in Berks County last week.

The woman was one of a small group staging a work strike to protest conditions at the center in Leesport, Pennsylvania.

Her attorney, Bridget Cambria, said she has no way to know whether her client was deported as punishment for taking part in the strike. But, Cambria said, it “restored her faith” when, after reviewing the case, the court found the woman’s sudden deportation last week violated her right to due process.

“Whether she was removed as retaliation, or whether it was a mistake, either one is unacceptable,” Cambria said. “I’m very happy that the court sided with her and decided to issue this very strongly worded order to bring her back.”

The woman and her daughter have been found safe and sound in Guatemala. The woman is seeking asylum due to domestic abuse in her home country, said Cambria, who asked that her client’s last name not be revealed in order to help protect her from any retaliation.

“I’m very excited to see Anna again. I’m very excited for her to be safe,” Cambria said. “The thing that I’m most worried about is that every minute that she’s there, she feels like she’s in danger. And every minute she’s there she feels like her 12-year-old daughter is in danger.”

The woman was one of nine undocumented immigrants who recently launched a work strike to protest what they call “inhumane” conditions at the Berks center.  Cambria said her client and her client’s daughter should back in the United States soon, where they will continue to seek asylum.

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