American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program Commends New Jersey State Lawmakers for Passing a Historic Bill to Stop Immigration Detention and Profiteering from Incarcerating Immigrants
Newark, NJ [June 24, 2021] – Six months ago, lawmakers in New Jersey introduced an anti-detention bill (A5207/S3361) that would ban any new immigration detention centers in the state, as well as prohibit the renewal or extension of existing ICE detention contracts. Today, the state Senate joined the Assembly in passing this important bill. The American Friends Service Committee’s Immigrant Rights Program (AFSC) commends the entire state legislature for their stand against immigration detention calls on Governor Murphy to sign and enact this legislation as soon as possible and demands that the federal government end immigration detention in the United States once and for all.
“The passage of this bill is a grand victory for all immigrants in New Jersey. Those of us who have been detained know how much suffering immigration detention causes. Immigration detention is an inferno,” stated Gloire, AFSC community member detained at Elizabeth Detention Center in 2020, “Many of us are here seeking refuge, peace and a new home in this country. This legislation will help so many families, including parents and their children, from having to experience the painful and cruel immigration detention.”
AFSC has provided legal representation to immigrant detainees in New Jersey since the Elizabeth Detention Center reopened in 1997 and has seen firsthand the harm that detention causes to the individuals detained, as well as to their families and communities. In collaboration with partners, community members and impacted individuals, we have long advocated for due process and humane conditions for all detainees while shining a light on the rampant abuses that occur at our local detention centers. But immigration detention is cruel and unjust and cannot be “fixed,” a fact that has become all the more apparent as COVID-19 has run rampant through detention facilities.
“As the bill makes its way to Governor Murphy’s desk, my thoughts are with the people who have been harmed by detention in New Jersey: I think of the mother who keeps delaying brain surgery because she cannot undergo the procedure while her son, her caretaker, languishes in detention. I think of the detained asylum seeker who developed diabetes and high blood pressure while detained because of the facility’s poor food quality. I think of the hunger strikers in detention who organized themselves to fight for their freedom during a global pandemic,” said AFSC Detention Legal Assistant Fabiola Davila, “Nobody should have to go through these painful experiences. With this bill, the people of New Jersey are stating clearly that they will not be complicit in ICE’s abuse and human rights violations. While we celebrate what this victory means for the future, we continue to demand release, not transfers, of all detained immigrants in New Jersey.”