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No more ICE detainees in York County Prison

York County Prison ended its contract to house immigrants while they await immigration proceedings. Detainees were released or transferred to other ICE facilities.

YORK, Pa. — York County Prison has no more ICE detainees, county officials confirmed.

Immigration advocates initially celebrated the announcement that the center would close by Aug. 12.

“We are certain that the voices of the community have been heard over the years,” CASA Pennsylvania Director Thaís Carrero said at a rally on July 1.

That enthusiasm was partly subdued by the transfer of a majority of detainees to other centers, rather than being released.

At least 92 detainees were released, according to Philadelphia-based immigration advocacy group Juntos.

“We uplift the demands of those detained and demand ICE shift to immediate releases, not transfers,” Juntos executive director Erika Guadalupe Núñez wrote in a statement.

There were 316 ICE inmates total at the prison in June, York County officials said.

The roughly 200 other people were transferred to other detention centers across the country.

“It's only making it worse for families here that at least to go see him or have an attorney that will be able to talk to them or to go visit them, which is going to be highly problematic now,” said Lancaster-based immigration attorney Troy Mattes.

ICE could not be reached for confirmation of the numbers of detainees released or transferred.

Dozens of detainees went on a hunger strike in late July to protest the transfers.

“We stand with those who are detained and today are exercising their right to be heard, to make demands for their wellbeing, safety and release… The Biden administration can and must do more for so many families who remain separated by detention in our country,” Desi Burnette, state coordinator of the Movement of Immigrant Leaders in Pennsylvania (MILPA), wrote in a statement.

York County officials have said the decision to close the center was purely financial.

“Because this involves ICE doesn't make it any different from any other contract negotiation we look at,” said York County President Commissioner Julie Wheeler. “We've had a great relationship with the federal government. This is not ending on a sour note in any way shape or form.”

Pennsylvania now has two ICE detention centers remaining: one each in Pike and Clinton Counties.

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