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Immigrant Rights Groups Call for Immediate Changes in New Jersey Detention Facilities

April 29, 2011

Contacts: Karina Wilkinson, NJAID & Alix Nguefack, NJAID, 973 854 0401

Advocates Send One Year Progress Update to President Obama

Newark, NJ – One year after issuing a comprehensive report, Locked Up but Not Forgotten – Opening Access to Family and Community in the Immigration Detention System, that outlines problems with visitation for immigrant detainees in New Jersey jails, the New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees* released an update that assesses the minimal progress made on implementation of recommendations in the report. Although there have been some improvements, much remains to be done to ensure that immigrant detainees have access to visits with family and community. The groups call on President Obama, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Napolitano and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Director Morton to make immediate corrections in New Jersey facilities and to end mandatory detention, which has created unnecessary hardship and devastation for families from New Jersey, New York, and around the country.

”My little one, I was afraid for her to come because I know it would break her heart,” reported Pauline Ndzie, who was profiled in the report. Some detainees in New Jersey jails are receiving visits as short as 15 to 20 minutes with their families, and visitors can be turned away for a variety of reasons.

Over 1,500 immigrants are detained throughout New Jersey in five county jails and the Elizabeth Detention Center. A contract to expand the number by up to 2,750 more is currently being negotiated. “Despite promises of reform, little has changed in New Jersey over the last year,” said Karina

Wilkinson, NJAID member, who co-founded two jail visiting programs in Central Jersey. “We are concerned that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is doing little to comply with its own internal standards.” The memo re-iterates some of the recommendations from last year, including steps that can be taken immediately by the facilities, enforcing a minimum visiting time of one hour and allowing sufficient access to legal materials for detainees, most of whom have no legal representation.

To read the full report, go to http://afsc.org/resource/locked-not-forgotten.

*List of NJ Advocates members:

  • American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program,
  • Casa de Esperanza
  • Casa Freehold
  • Ironbound Community Corporation
  • IRATE/First Friends
  • Highland Park Reformed Church
  • Latin American Legal Defense & Education Fund, Inc,
  • Middlesex County Coalition for Immigrant Rights
  • Monmouth County Coalition for Immigrant Rights
  • NJ Association on Correction
  • NJ Forum for Human Rights
  • Pax Christi,
  • People’s Organization for Progress Bergen County Branch
  • Sisters of St. Joseph ESL Program
  • Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Montclair
  • Unitarian Universalist Ministry of New Jersey

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