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NJ Advocates Deliver Report Asking For Reform of Immigrant Detention System To Newark ICE

April 29, 2010

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via Alix Nguefack of American Friends Service Committee

Press Release

Contacts:

  • Amy Gottlieb, American Friends Service Committee, 917-494-6415
  • Karina Wilkinson, NJ Advocates for Immigrant Detainees, 310-980-0362
  • Nancy Morawetz, NYU School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic, 212-998-6451

Newark, NJ [April 29, 2010] – New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees, a coalition of community-based groups that support immigration and detention reform will deliver a comprehensive report, “Locked Up But Not Forgotten – Opening Access to Family and Community in the Immigration Detention System,” to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Newark Field Office, Thursday, April 29 at 1pm.  The report will also be provided to Assistant Secretary Morton to remind him of his promise to deliver detention reform. The report demonstrates how ICE has failed to meet its own detention standards through an examination of restrictions on family and community access at four New Jersey detention centers (the county jails in Essex, Monmouth and Hudson and the Elizabeth Detention Facility).  It makes specific recommendations to improve family and community access for those in immigration detention.  It also calls on Congress to restore due process and provide immigrant detainees with legal counsel.  The problems outlined in the report highlight the need to end mandatory detention.

“The more sunlight is shone on the conditions behind the walls of our detention centers, the more we can ensure that all of our fellow human beings are treated humanely. I commend these groups for taking the initiative to investigate and compile this important report.”—Senator Robert Menendez

“At the end of the day, everyone is a human being who deserves to be treated with fairness and dignity.  When that does not happen, it is imperative that we, as a society, decry the deplorable treatment and sound the clarion call to put a stop to it.  I appreciate these hard-working groups that are giving a voice to the voiceless and calling on all stakeholders to take action against the inhumane treatment of those in detention centers.”  —Congressman Donald Payne (NJ-10)

“The lack of transparency and access to detainees makes it difficult for them to receive due process.  I thank these New Jersey immigration advocates for their valuable report and recommendations.” — Congressman Rush Holt (NJ-12).

From the report:  “The current immigration detention system impedes access to the outside world and fails to provide immigrant detainees a level of access to family and community that can help them maintain the morale needed to withstand the human costs of immigration detention and pursue legitimate claims for relief against deportation…”

“For the people inside, having a visit can mean the difference between sanity and insanity, literally,” said Ravi Ragbir, former immigration detainee.

The fieldwork for the report was conducted in New Jersey during a period of unprecedented transfers and disruption after the termination of two ICE contracts with local facilities, and included interviews with detainees, former detainees, families, volunteer visitors, advocates and criminal justice policymakers. Nationwide, the number of people in ICE custody is at an all time high of over 33,000 per night.

Recommendations for immediate changes in ICE’s policies and practices include: ending detention at facilities that severely restrict access to family and community; requiring facilities to provide increased visitation opportunities and free or low-cost telephone service; and implementing risk assessment to ensure that no one who shouldn’t be detained is detained.   The report recommends that ICE issue new standards regarding family and community visitation and transfers,  and follow up with binding regulations, which the Obama administration has thus far declined to issue..

“We hope our report will help galvanize the political will in Washington to see that we can’t afford to wait, detention reform is needed now,” said Karina Wilkinson from the NJ Advocates for Immigrant Detainees.

The report is a joint project of the American Friends Service Committee in Newark, New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees* and the New York University School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic.

*New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees is a coalition of organizations and individuals, including

  • American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Immigrant Rights Program
  • Casa de Esperanza
  • The Episcopal Immigration Network
  • 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
  • People’s Organization for Progress- Bergen County Branch
  • The Reformed Church of Highland Park
  • Sisters of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill ESL
  • Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair
  • First Friends

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