Protesters from the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee gather Aug. 15 in front of where President Obama is playing golf on his vacation in Massachusetts to call for the release of immigrant women on a hunger strike at the Berks County, Pa., migrant family detention center. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

The Aug. 15 front-page article “Windfall deal for asylum facility” revealed the troubling relationship between the Obama administration’s family detention policy and the soaring corporate profits of Corrections Corporation of America. Private immigration detention centers expand capacity while cutting expenses, which can carry hefty human costs.

But government-run detention is also harmful. Last month I visited the Berks County Residential Center family detention facility in Pennsylvania, where I met with mothers who have been detained for more than a year with their children.

Twenty-two mothers at Berks recently announced a hunger strike to protest their long-term detention and the effects it has had on their children, including suicidality, anxiety and decreased appetite. According to research, these symptoms are typical of children held in immigration detention. Child health experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have questioned the ability of an immigration enforcement agency to provide adequate health services to children and warned that the act of detention itself is associated with poorer health outcomes, additional psychological trauma and long-term health consequences.

The misguided policy of family detention must end, and facilities, both private and government-run, should be closed.

Olga Byrne, New York

The writer is senior associate in refugee protection for Human Right First.