Award-winning visual artist, Michelle Angela Ortiz is premiering her 30 minute documentary, “Las Madres de Berks”, as part of her "Familias Separadas" public art project which amplifies the stories of families affected by detention and deportation in Pennsylvania.
“Las Madres de Berks” documentary shares the testimonials of four mothers that were detained for 2 years with their children at The Berks County Residential Center, a family prison in Pennsylvania. The mothers featured are some of the several women with young children who were held for nearly two years at Berks, which is one of only three permanent family prisons for immigrant families in the country. Despite being held up as a “model” by proponents of immigrant detention, the center has amassed a record of human rights violations. The federal government, under intense legal and public pressure to stop forcibly removing immigrant children from their families, recently announced its intention to keep children with their parents in detention indefinitely, expanding and replicating facilities like Berks. Ortiz’s main community partner, the Shut Down Berks Coalition has been fighting to close down the Berks family prison for three years.