Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC) is a non-profit legal services organization founded in 1996 in the aftermath of the Golden Venture catastrophe. The Golden Venture ship beached off the coast of Long Island with nearly three hundred Chinese refugees aboard who were fleeing persecution in the forms of forced sterilization and abortion. Consequent to immigration policies that mandate the detention of some asylum seekers, many Golden Venture refugees were detained at York County Prison in York, Pennsylvania, by the current Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
At present, DHS detains approximately 1,600 immigrants in Pennsylvania at eleven county prisons, two federal facilities, and a secure family shelter in Berks County. These facilities are predominately located in rural counties in Pennsylvania, with a scarcity of immigration attorneys and immigrant communities. Consequently, most immigration detainees have little or no access to legal, social service, or community support.
Located less than a mile from York County Prison, PIRC has become the leading source of legal services to immigrants detained by DHS in Pennsylvania. York County Prison houses approximately 500 detainees on a daily basis. The annex at York County Prison includes a branch of the Executive Office of Immigration Review (Immigration Court), presided over by three full-time Immigration Judges.