NJ Immigrants’ Rights Advocates Call for Full Senate Floor Vote on S3361 to Prohibit New, Renewal, Expansion of ICE Detention Contracts Before Legislature Takes Summer Recess
S3361 passed the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. Advocates call for a full Senate Floor vote with less than 10 days left before Summer Recess.
Newark, NJ --Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021--The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ) and member organizations applaud the passage of S3361 in the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee, following yesterday’s full passage of companion bill A5207 on the Assembly floor.
This week’s developments are promising, but advocates caution that the bill must happen before summer recess in order to effectively prevent new ICE agreements from happening over the summer and early fall. Multiple local and county contractors have indicated a willingness to close or wind down existing agreements beginning in April this year, and over 40 leading immigrants rights, legal services, and justice organizations sent an endorsement letter to State leadership on Friday urging swift passage.
“Today’s committee vote sends a clear message: whether at the local level or in the halls of Trenton, the state’s doors are closing to ICE. But the urgency to get S3361 passed and signed into law in the coming week has never been higher — each day that this legislation is not yet law is another day for ICE to attempt a new agreement in New Jersey. S3361 must be voted on the floor and signed into law before summer,” said Amy Torres, Executive Director of the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice.
As recently as last October, ICE solicited interest from entities in New Jersey and New York to greatly expand detention capacity in the region, with the proposed creation of 900-1800 new beds. A similar request was issued in the Philadelphia field office, potentially affecting South Jersey. In response, NJAIJ, a state-wide coalition of 44 faith, labor, policy, community-based, and grassroots organizations, has fought for S3361 and A5207 as part of their “Fair & Welcoming Platform” to ban new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention contracts, including renewals or expansions.
NJAIJ members, which include legal services providers who counsel on detention and deportation defense, have long raised the alarm that new ICE contracts would not only be devastating to new families separated under cruel enforcement policies, but overwhelm the existing capacity of providers and organizations who fight for immigrants to be released. Hunger strikes, vigils, and release campaigns have heightened over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, as far too many immigrants in New Jersey detention were subject to infection, permanent injury, and even death:
Banan Abdelrahman, Campaign Coordinator with the American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program said,
"The Senate must vote to pass this before June 30th. This bill has support from all sectors including legal service providers like AFSC. People detained inside currently call me regularly in fear that they'll never see their loved ones and wonder why they have to face this 'just because we were born in the wrong country.’ To them, this bill means a lot more than we can imagine.¨
Despite vaccination rates increasing with the general public, COVID-19 infection and spread continue unabated in ICE detention centers across the nation. New agreements in New Jersey would further subject immigrant families and local communities to harm.
Community organizations and advocates also weighed in, urging:
CharleneWalker, Executive Director of Faith in New Jersey said,
“Faith in New Jersey applauds the Senate Budget and Appropriations committee for listening to their constituents by voting in support of S3361. This is a much needed step toward easing the concerns of our families that fear the impact of a growing presence of ICE in New Jersey. As such we urge the Senate to move this bill for a floor vote immediately so Governor Murphy can make this bill a reality before the legislature breaks for the summer.”
Ami Kachalia, Campaign Strategist with the ACLU-NJ said,
“New Jersey must act now to end its complicity in an immigration detention system that enables family separation and is rife with civil and human rights abuses. We thank the Senate Budget and Appropriations committee for voting in support of S3361, and urge Senate leadership to immediately post this legislation for a floor vote.”
"New Jersey does not need to be complicit in the racist, violent, and ineffective immigration enforcement system," said Vineeta Kapahi, Policy Analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP). "NJPP applauds the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for taking a step toward a more fair and welcoming New Jersey. We now urge the Senate to swiftly pass this legislation and hope to see it reach the Governor's desk soon."
Ted Fetter, chair of the Immigration Justice Task Force of Unitarian Universalist FaithAction New Jersey said,
"It is most gratifying to see that the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee has agreed to move the bill to the Senate floor. If passed and signed by the Governor, New Jersey will be a safer home for immigrants, and our county and state governments will reflect the greater support for our undocumented neighbors that the majority of New Jersey citizens already feel. This is a good day for New Jersey."
Abire Sabbagh, Community Engagement Coordinator with the Palestinian American Community Center said,
“We are grateful and relieved that S3361 passed the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee, and eagerly look to and call on the rest of the Senate to vote on the Anti-Detention bill and hand it over to Governor Murphy for him to finally sign it into law. We need to sign this bill into law before more harm is done to immigrant communities and families. Passing this bill will ensure that families are kept together, which is a basic human right every individual should have, especially in this country.”
NJAIJ proudly stands with our members and legislative champions to call the State to swift action and ban future business with ICE.