Immigrants, Advocates, Attorneys Celebrate Law Banning New ICE Detention Contracts
New Jersey becomes 4th state to limit or ban ICE detention contracts after Governor Murphy signed S3361/A5207 that would ban new, renewal, and extensions of ICE detention contracts
Newark, NJ -- Monday, August 23rd, 2021 -- On Friday, New Jersey became the fourth state to limit or ban Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention contracts joining California, Illinois, and Washington State after Governor Murphy signed S3361/A5207. Under the new ban, which took place immediately upon signature, public or private entities are prohibited from entering into new ICE detention contracts and prohibited from renewing and extending current ICE detention contracts in New Jersey.
Immigrant community members noted the importance of the new law in upholding New Jersey’s values as a fair and welcoming state.
Juli, member of Make the Road New Jersey and formerly detained in ICE detention said,
“We thank Governor Murphy for signing S3361/A5207 into law. Our communities have said this all along - ICE is a rogue agency that has no business in New Jersey, no matter who the President is. When I needed help and protection from local law enforcement, I was wrongly arrested and detained in the Elizabeth Detention Center for three months. I did not know if I was ever going to see my family again. No one should live and work in fear in our state. This is an important step towards recognizing the dignity of immigrant communities.”
Carlos Sierra with First Friends NJ & NY, criminal justice student, and formerly detained in ICE detention said,
“Governor Murphy has made New Jersey a model state for social justice. This bill has focused on building a stronger and fairer New Jersey that works for every family. While the bill stands strongly in the public interest, it has also brought healing to the pain my family and I have undergone.”
Immigrants’ rights advocates, community members celebrated the new law as a first step towards disentangling from ICE and called for the release of those currently detained.
Amy Torres, Executive Director of the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice said,
“This was a fight won by immigrants. It is a testament to our communities’ organizing power and growing political strength. Immigrant New Jerseyans have proven that when we fight together, we can end the policies that harm us or seek to profit from our pain.
“Now that this law safeguards our future, we are able to turn with renewed vigor to the fight to free everyone harmed by this rogue agency and call for an end to the cruelties of the prison industrial complex.”
Attorneys and legal representatives thanked Governor Murphy for signing the bill into law that sets New Jersey on the path to putting family, human life, and dignity before profits and punishment. They also call on New Jersey’s federal representatives to defund detention and for ICE to release people to their family and community rather than relying on detention in existing sites or transfer to further ones.
Nicole Miller, Esq., Legal Services Director with the American Friends Services Committee - Immigrant Rights Program said,
“We thank Governor Murphy and the state legislature for their leadership in enacting this important piece of legislation. While this law does not immediately end any of the current immigration detention contracts in the state, it does put New Jersey on a clear path that rejects contracts that put money, profits, and cruelty before community, family, human life, and dignity. This moment is a testament to years of advocacy by impacted individuals and their families, organizers, local community members, allies, and attorneys who have seen the harm caused by our unjust and inhumane immigration detention system. We must continue to work together to end detention in New Jersey and across the country once and for all.”
The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) - The Bronx Defenders, The Legal Aid Society, and Brooklyn Defender Services said,
“As New York City’s defender organizations providing free legal representation to detained immigrants, we commend Governor Murphy for taking an historic step to end immigration detention in New Jersey.
“ICE detention is inhumane, immoral, and a threat to the health and safety of us all. We urge that ICE release people from its custody, as it has the authority to do, and not transfer people to distant locations, away from their loved ones and legal counsel. The signing of this legislation into law should be a signal to New York State to end its contracts with ICE through the Dignity Not Detention Act, and to the federal government to end immigration detention altogether once and for all.”
Civil rights advocates, faith and community leaders called on local and federal officials to ensure the release of individuals currently detained in ICE detention facilities and thanked Governor Murphy for signing the bill.
Ami Kachalia, Campaign Strategist with ACLU-NJ said,
"Today, New Jersey sent a firm message that we refuse to be complicit in ICE's cruelty, and made clear that we cannot allow our communities to suffer the indignities of immigration detention. With this monumental step, New Jersey demonstrates its commitment to the national movement to end the mass detention of noncitizens."
Rabbi Joel N. Abraham, Board Secretary of Faith in New Jersey said,
“Joseph was forgotten in his prison, but on his release, he saved the whole nation. We are a country of immigrants. It is not only a moral failure to imprison those whose only “crime” is to want a better life for themselves and their families, but we forget that those who have come here are choosing blessing over curse, not just for themselves, but for all of us. When we choose justice and compassion, we not only improve the lives of others but of our whole polity. May this legislation be the next step toward liberation.”
Giselle Holloway, Executive Director of First Friends of NJ & NY said,
We are grateful to Governor Murphy for signing the anti-detention bill—a bold and historic step toward making New Jersey a fair and inclusive state for everyone including immigrants. However, this bill does not affect the current contracts in Bergen and Hudson counties and in Elizabeth. Therefore, much work still needs to be done to advocate for releases, humane conditions, and alternatives to detention not only in New Jersey but across the country.”
Jon Moscow, Co-Chair, Northern NJ Sanctuary Coalition said,
“Northern NJ Sanctuary Coalition, composed of 10 cross-denominational faith-based congregations and organizations, welcomes Gov. Murphy's long-overdue action in signing the anti-detention bill into law. We call on New Jersey and federal elected officials now to take all possible steps to close existing ICE detention centers. We strongly urge Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton and the Bergen County Commissioners to immediately exercise their power to end the Bergen County Jail ICE contract. Most importantly, detained immigrants must be released, not transferred to sites away from their families and attorneys. #ReleasesNotTransfers.”
Abire Sabbagh, Community Engagement Coordinator with the Palestinian American Community Center (PACC) said,
“We are excited and relieved that the Anti-Detention Bill has finally been signed and will now be put into action! To us, this win symbolizes the strength of community, coalition building, and solidarity networks. We are one step closer towards holistic rights for all immigrant communities, and are so grateful to and inspired by all those who put in hours of work to make this happen.”
Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center released the following statement,
“The Anti-Detention bill is one step closer for our communities to feel safe in the state of New Jersey. One step closer to end family separation. Detaining the immigrant community due to immigration status is inhumane. Today, even though we are aware of the many continuous fights we still need to overcome, we celebrate Governor Murphy signing the Anti-Detention bill.”
Currently, there are three county-level ICE detention contracts at Essex, Bergen, and Hudson Counties, and one private detention contract in Elizabeth. Essex County announced the “depopulation” of Essex County Correctional Facility of individuals detained by ICE last week, however, the county continues the practice of detaining individuals through a local contract for the neighboring Union County. The delay in the immediate signing of the legislation allowed ICE to extend its private contract in Elizabeth.
The effort to ban new ICE detention contracts in New Jersey is a policy priority of the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, a statewide coalition of 45 faith, labor, policy, community-based, and grassroots organizations that fight for policies that empower and protect immigrant New Jerseyans.
The NJAIJ convenes the Fair and Welcoming - New Jersey For All - Platform fighting to future-proof the state against cruel and inhumane federal immigration enforcement by establishing clear separations between our state resources and state agencies, and banning ICE detention contracts.