Our federal representatives in NJ, despite lots of talk, have failed to release ICE prisoners. After more than a decade, North Jersey county jails no longer house ICE prisoners; but instead of reuniting families, most were transferred to facilities in New York, including one 5 hours away. This is despite the fact that when immigration defendants are released, they have better court appearance rates than other types of cases. Our representatives are allowing decades of inhumanity and tens of millions per year in “lower taxes” off Black and brown bodies to continue.
Being in the US without authorization is a civil offense, not a criminal offense. Our neighbors are being detained for the equivalent of a lawsuit over backpay, or a slip and fall. No other civil offenses allow pre-trial confinement. Why should immigration? Even if the person has been removed previously, the criminal charge they face would be a misdemeanor. Do we detain teenagers pre-trial when they’ve been caught trespassing or having a fake ID? Of course we don’t and we shouldn’t detain our neighbors for those offenses either.
The lone remaining ICE detention facility in North Jersey is CoreCivic’s private prison in Elizabeth, where planes from Newark Airport noisily fly over hundreds of times a day. Our Senators and Congressional Representatives need to hear from us. Call our Senators and your Congressperson to tell them to pressure the Biden Administration to cancel CoreCivic’s contract and release - not transfer - their ICE detainees.