Thursday, September 29, 2011

ICE's Model - a Jail that sits in "Chemical Corridor"

Essex is a story with national implications because the problems at Essex completely undercut ICE's national messaging. ICE is saying that it is in the process of making immigration detention humane. ICE is holding up Essex as a model for the country, but their model consists of a jail that blocks access to clergy, and a hastily partitioned correctional facility located next to a water treatment plant and toxic waste.

Earlier this week at a press conference in front of the Hall of Records in Newark, Cynthia Mellon, the Environmental Justice & Community Organizer for the Ironbound Community Corp., talked about the high levels of pollution, the poor air quality and the concerns about the county's inability to evacuate the occupants of the jail and Delaney Hall in the event of a chemical spill.

The environmental issues at the jail and the ICE contract itself tie into the oppression of immigrants in the surrounding neighborhood. On October 9th we will be marching past a school in the majority Portuguese and Brazilian community in the Ironbound section of Newark. This school needed to be closed twice in the last two years for environmental concerns, first for Benzene and the second time for mold. The children are being bussed to schools out of the city.

Essex County is expanding the prison but it is not building a new school anywhere in the Ironbound. The freeholders and county executive keep talking about how much money the county will make off of this deal with ICE and they say they plan to use it to lower property taxes (most likely taxes in the western suburbs.) So not only will the immigrant community continue to suffer the injustice of having its residents incarcerated in the local prison they will continue living in a polluted neighborhood without a safe school for their children. It is unlikely that they will see a dime of this revenue that the new ICE contract is supposed to bring to Essex.

Not only is ICE is incapable of treating people humanely, there is just no such thing as humane immigration detention.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Free Citizenship Application Assistance this Saturday in Newark

After hosting two successful events on the New Brunswick campus, Citizenship Rutgers comes to Newark on Saturday, October 1, 2011.

Citizenship Rutgers is a university-wide project bringing free citizenship application assistance to qualified green card holders. Modeled on Citizenship NOW!, the citizenship and immigration law project now in its 14th year at the City University of New York, Citizenship Rutgers is a service provided to all of New Jersey's 400,000 green card holders who are seeking citizenship.

In addition to an eligibility review with a trained immigration law professional, participants receive the passport photos required for the application, as well as photocopies of their documents. Legal Permanent Residents of the United States can register to receive assistance by calling (732) 932-9384 ext. 330.

Please note:

To receive assistance, an individual must meet the following requirements: Reside in the United States as a permanent resident for five years (three years if living with and married to the same U.S. citizen); live in the United States for half of the five or three year period; and be at least 18 years old.

Applicants are further instructed to bring: Green card and all passports since obtaining green card; home addresses for the last five or three years; children's information (date of birth, A#, addresses); employment history for the last five or three years; marital history/criminal history. (if applicable).

Applicants pay a $680 filing fee to USCIS but should not bring this fee to the event.

Immigration attorneys who wish to learn more or to volunteer their time on 10/1 can email:

Citizenship Rutgers is a project of Rutgers School of Law-Camden; Rutgers School of Law-Newark; The Center for Migration and the Global City, Newark; Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations; the School of Arts and Sciences, New Brunswick; the School of Public Policy and Administration, Camden; and the Civic Engagement and Service Education Partnerships (CESEP) Program. CESEP operates under the auspices of the Rutgers Office of the Associate Vice President for Academic & Public Partnerships with support from the Office of the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, The Bonner Foundation, Rutgers' Eagleton Program on Immigration and Democracy, as well as CUNY Citizenship NOW! (City University of New York).

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Press Conference 9/27 in Newark Denouncing County Contract with ICE


Calling for Community Oversight, Government Accountability, a Rollback of New Contract with ICE and an End to Mandatory Detention


September 26, 2011

Contacts: Amy Gottlieb, American Friends Service Committee, 917-494-6415; Karina Wilkinson, Middlesex Co. Coalition for Immigrant Rights, 310-980-0362

Event Time:
Tuesday September 27th 2011 at 11am

Event Location:
Lincoln Statue in front of Hall of Records (465 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd) at corner of Springfield Ave. and Market St. in Newark

– New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees* (NJAID) will hold a press conference calling for a rollback of the newly signed contract between Essex County and Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) and added government accountability for the immigrant detention system in Essex County. The press conference comes at the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, a law that dramatically expanded the use of mandatory detention for immigrants and led to massive deportations, tearing families and communities apart.

“The concept of detaining people on civil charges without a right to bond or parole goes counter to our understanding of justice and protections of human rights. The detention and deportation system has failed immigrant communities miserably, but could easily be fixed in part by eliminating any mandatory detention provisions,” said Silky Shah, Detention Watch Network.

NJAID is deeply concerned about numerous complaints from immigrant detainees and advocates regarding Essex County facilities. The complaints filed include refusal of entry to legal counsel, interpreters and expert witnesses; arbitrary restrictions on family and community visitation; and lack of access to religious clergy. There is also growing concern with health issues as the required outdoor recreation area is adjacent to a toxic waste site.

Concerns increased with the expansion of the detention system through the September 7th Freeholder meeting at which the ICE contract was approved. The total number of detainees in Essex County Jail and Delaney Hall will increase to 1250. Delaney Hall is a facility operated by Community Education Centers, a private corporation. Expansion without addressing the human rights violations may prove fatal: since late 2003, over 110 people have died in immigration detention centers throughout the United States. Members of the community have been showing their concern as well, since September over 1600 signatures have been collected on a petition on to revoke the contract with ICE.

"ICE has agreed to maintain an average daily population of 700 detainees in Essex County jail, a jail that arbitrarily refuses access to family, clergy and attorneys," said Karina Wilkinson, Middlesex County Coalition for Immigrant Rights, a member group of NJAID. "We have seen no improvement or increased cooperation under the new contract, only more promises of reform."
Human rights advocates have voiced concerns about detainee conditions at Freeholder meetings since last December. Penal Committee chair and Freeholder Ralph Caputo once offered to include advocates in an oversight committee to review the issues raised. However, no such review has occurred. Freeholders have told NJAID that oversight is an ICE responsibility. “This is shirking their responsibility to the people who are now in the county’s custody” said Ed Martone, Director of Public Education and Policy for the NJ Association on Correction. “They do have complete control over the conditions in their own jail.”

This press conference is leading up to a national day of action, which is part of the “Dignity, Not Detention: Preserving Human Rights and Restoring Justice,” campaign led by the Detention Watch Network. The campaign calls for an end to the human rights abuses in detention centers, the restoration of due process in the enforcement of immigration laws, and the implementation of cost saving, community-based alternatives to detention. A local action called “Redefining Cruel and Unusual: Indefinite Detention Amid Toxic Waste” is scheduled for October 9th in Newark.

*The NJ Advocates for Immigrant Detainees is a coalition of the American Civil Liberties Union- New Jersey; American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Immigrant Rights Program; Casa de Esperanza; Casa Freehold; the Episcopal Immigration Network; IRATE & First Friends; Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry in NJ; NJ Association on Correction; NJ Forum for Human Rights; Pax Christi NJ; Middlesex County Coalition for Immigrant Rights; Monmouth County Coalition for Immigrant Rights; People’s Organization for Progress, Bergen County Branch; the Reformed Church of Highland Park; Sisters of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill; Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Montclair


Draft Program

1. Welcome

2. Mandatory Detention and Implications (Silky Shah, Detention Watch Network)

3. Increased Immigration Detention in NJ: Elizabeth Detention Center and beyond (Sally Pillay, IRATE/First Friends)

4. Essex County’s Newly Approved Contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Karina Wilkinson, Middlesex County Coalition for Immigrant Rights)

5. Violations of Immigration Detention Standards and Due Process at Essex (John Leschak, Monmouth County Coalition for Immigrant Rights)

6. Environmental and Other Concerns at Essex County (Cynthia Mellon, Community and Environmental Justice Organizer, Ironbound Community Corporation)

7. Essex County Government Accountability and Call for Oversight Committee (Ed Martone, Director of Public Education and Policy for the New Jersey Association on Correction)

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Immigration Detention - Unpleasant but Helpful??

That is what Essex County Freeholder Ralph Caputo said to the Star Ledger about the new contract between the county & ICE because it will raise revenues. Joe DiVincenzo says it will "help reduce the financial burden on our taxpayers."

We say THESE ARE PEOPLE not commodities.

You can read the article here.

Please help support our campaign to roll back immigration detention in Essex County, improve conditions and provide for community oversight of immigrant detainees.

Join the Protest October 9th at Peter Francisco Park – corner of Edison Pl. & Ferry St.(right outside Newark Penn Station on the east side)

Sign the petition to revoke the new ICE contract in Essex and institute community oversight

(if you have signed it already please forward it to your organizations)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

We Are So Furious...

"We are so furious that the Essex County Freeholders have voted to expand the miserable rotten prison there..." - a member of the Peace & Justice Committee of the UU Society in Ridgewood talking about the vote to approve a new contract with ICE. (Take a listen)

On September 7th, the Essex County Freeholders voted to approved a contract with ICE that had already been signed by the Essex County Executive to expand immigration detention in the Essex County Correctional Facility, and the neighboring privately run Delaney Hall, to 1250 people.

The outrage over that vote has translated into action. As of last night, over 1300 people had signed the petition demanding that the freeholders revoke the contract with ICE and improve conditions in the jail.

The vote may be over, but the campaign to revoke the contract and improve conditions in a jail that has been accused of human rights abuses and sits amid toxic waste sites and active polluters continues.

If you want to get involved you can:

1. Sign the petition

2. Forward the petition to your friends and family.

3. Attend an upcoming Essex County Freeholder meeting in person and ask them to explain their vote

4. Attend the protest rally and march on in Newark October 9th Redefining Cruel & Unusual Indefinite Immigration Detention for-Profit Amid Toxic Waste in Essex County beginning at 1:30 pm at Peter Francisco Park Newark, NJ (right outside Newark Penn Station) Marching to and from: Essex County Correctional Facility & Delaney Hall 356 Doremus Ave, Newark, NJ

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Redefining Cruel & Unusual

Redefining Cruel & Unusual
Indefinite Immigration Detention for-Profit Amid Toxic Waste in Essex County

Protest, Rally & March
October 9th 1:30 pm
... Beginning at Peter Francisco Park Newark, NJ

Marching to and from:
Essex County Correctional Facility & Delaney Hall
356 Doremus Ave, Newark, NJ

Can't join us in Newark on Oct 9th? Sign the Petition

After 14 years the IRATE & First Friends annual protest is moving to Newark along with the detainees from the Elizabeth Detention Center. ICE listened to us year after year complain about conditions at the converted warehouse with no outdoor recreation where people were kept, sometimes for years on end. They responded by working with Essex County and the private for-profit company Community Education Centers (CEC).

Up to 1250 detainees will now be held in either the Essex County Jail or in the neighboring privately run. Delaney Hall. These sites allow for outdoor recreation but are located in the middle of numerous TOXIC WASTE sites. The jail and Delaney Hall are both located on Doremus Avenue, a highly polluted area with active polluters where air quality is a constant issue.

Concerns also persist that the Essex County Jail is restricting visits from family, lawyers, and clergy in addition to concerns about adequate food, and general safety.

The Essex County Freeholders just voted to approve a five year contact with ICE that expands an inhumane system that breaks apart families and is wasteful of tax dollars.

We oppose this expansion of immigration detention in Essex County. Many of those ensnared in the indiscriminate immigration enforcement dragnet which automatically leads to detention are long-term residents, green card holders, U.S. citizens, business owners, college graduates and veterans. We have grave concerns about the conditions under which they are being held.

Co-sponsored by:
Action for Justice Community Church of NY Unitarian Universalist; American Friends Service Committee, Immigrant Rights Program-Newark; Bergen County Branch/People's Organization for Progress; Casa Esperanza; Casa Freehold; Community of Friends in Action, Inc.; Immigration Task Force, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey; Felician Sisters of Lodi; Ironbound Community Corporation; Middlesex County Coalition for Immigrant Rights; Monmouth County Coalition for Immigrant Rights; Pax Christi NJ; Sisters of Mercy, Mid-Atlantic Justice Office; Social Responsibility Council of the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood; Wind of the Spirit

To RSVP and for update visit the Facebook event page