The ruling means its unlikely that VisionQuest will open a migrant youth facility any time soon. Judge Ellen Ceisler ruled that the zoning board's decision to shut down the Grace Dix Center on Old York Road was likely proper.
She reasoned that the company's 2010 zoning permit was for a youth shelter but did not allow the housing of children under jurisdiction of a court. The court ruled it was likely that on appeal, children who entered the U.S. illegally would be outside of the scope.
"It is an amazing step in the right direction," said Erika Almiron, who runs Juntos, a grassroots immigrants' rights group that protested the facility.
She's hoping the order will provide a roadmap for keeping other centers from opening in Pennsylvania.
"And it may even allow us to move and shut down other detention centers that already exist," she added.
The Arizona-based VisionQuest laid off its 65 North Philadelphia-based workers at the end of October. During the hearing, the company argued that it would lose its multimillion-dollar contract if the issue was not resolved by year's end.
There is no word yet from VisionQuest.