Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Will your name be among those demanding an end to immigration detention for profit?

Tomorrow night hundreds of concerned New Jersey residents are expected to participate in an "Occupy the Freeholders" action. At the Essex County Freeholders regularly scheduled meeting we will deliver a petition started on Change.org that has garnered more that 3,000 signatures on-line and over 1000 in hard copy in opposition to an expanded contract with a local jail that houses immigrant detainees for profit.

Will your name be among those who demand an end to the incarceration of immigrants for profit?

If you haven't already, please sign this petition to revoke the ICE contract in Essex County

And then join us in Newark...

December 7th, 2011
Rally at 4pm at Military Park
& Marching to 456 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Room 506
For 7:30 pm Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholder Meeting.

The Essex County Freeholders need to stop selling out to the 1%
Immigrants are not commodities.
Immigrants are the 99%!

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, December 02, 2011

Stop Understanding, Start Feeling

As I sat down to write this blog post, about our upcoming protest on December 7th in Newark over the for-profit immigration detention contract, I was tempted to lead with statistics about the percentage of foreign born residents in Essex County. Then I remembered a quote from a book on racial justice by Father Bryan Massingale. "We act justly not because we are intellectually convinced, but because we are passionately moved. Compassion moves the will to justice."

As a movement and as individual activists, there is a tendency toward providing facts, data and statistics that support just immigration policy. There is the belief that if only we could effectively combat the tremendous body of misinformation we would prevail. The problem is that one of the primary tactics of the campaign against immigration reform is an attempt to dehumanize an entire group of people.

However, it becomes obvious, that what is fueling the anti-immigrant movement is anything but rational. The statistics are simply a justification for a deep seated fear of people who are in some way different. It is a deep seated fear that these new people will upset the social order.

I am often asked why I am an advocate for immigration reform. After all, being an advocate for social change of any kind does not win a person any popularity contests, particularly not in New Jersey’s suburbs. I can only describe it as a conversion after encounters with people who were suffering under the injustice of our immigration system. These were moments where, as Catholic and a Christian, I recognized the face of Jesus in the suffering of the people before me and I felt their pain in a deep and profound way. At these times I was able to see that it was merely by luck of my birth and circumstances that I was spared their suffering.

Perhaps that is why I am transfixed by this video. I do not understand the words that Frank uses to describe the plight of immigrants in detention or the injustice of the system that imprisons them for-profit… I feel them.

We need to stop pinning our hopes for change to an intellectual exercise where we ascribe economic value to the lives of people who are immigrants. By doing so, we only contribute to their dehumanization. We need to talk about immigrants as people with innate value as human beings. We need to elevate their lives and their stories, flawed and imperfect though they may be.

Until we have the courage to stridently proclaim, not that some are deserving because they can contribute, but that all are entitled to the basic necessities of life because they are human, we will not prevail.

I hope you will watch Frank’s video as I have, over and over, and share it with your friends. I believe with all my heart and I feel in my soul that the very passion and the power of the emotion that he expresses is our path forward as a movement.

We must stop trying to understand and open our hearts. We must start feeling the pain of our brothers and sisters who are immigrants. Our compassion for their suffering is what will motivate us to act in solidarity for justice.

If you can, please join us in Newark on December 7th, beginning at 4:00 pm in Military Park and later at 7:00 pm at the Essex County Freeholders meeting. If not please sign the petition to revoke the ICE contract in Newark and start putting people before profit.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Stop Incarcerating People for Profit - Occupy the Essex County Freeholders

Immigrants are being incarcerated for profit in Essex County thanks to the help of the Essex County Executive and the Board of Chosen Freeholders who have decided to sell the liberty of 1250 people to ICE for $108/person/day.

Join us December 7 beginning at 4:00 pm with a rally & press conference in Military Park and then march with us to the Hall of Records to Occupy the Freeholders at their meeting at 7:00 pm. We will be presenting them with thousands of signatures on a petition to revoke the ICE contract and tell them to STOP INCARCERATING PEOPLE FOR PROFIT!

For years, Essex County has been partnering with the private for-profit company Community Education Centers (CEC) to negotiate a contract with ICE to detain 1250 people in the Essex County Jail and the neighboring privately run Delaney Hall. The agreement between ICE & Essex County was signed and approved earlier this fall.

After Essex County secretly negotiated with ICE, making representations to ICE that CEC would be the subcontractor, Essex County put the sub-contract up for public bid. Surprise, surprise CEC was the only bidder in two separate rounds of RFP's.

It just so happens that CEC has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the campaigns of Essex County politicians.

It just so happens that one of CEC's primary lobbyists was Chris Christie.

It just sot happens that Bill Palatucci, Chris Christie's close friend and political confidant, is currently a Sr. VP for CEC.

As we know, the system is rigged to line the pockets of corporate interests while working class people suffer. This is just one more example.

Wall Street Execs destroy the economy & get a bailout. Immigrants work hard & end up in jail. Immigrants are the 99%.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,