- Kathy O’Leary, Pax Christi NJ, 973-610-1684, email@example.com
- Jackie Mahendra, Director of Organizing, Immigrant Rights, Change.org, 202-222-8699, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Cynthia Mellon, (Spanish & Portugese) Community & Environmental Justice Organizer, Ironbound Community Corp., 862-755-9577 email@example.com
NEW JERSEY RESIDENTS AND FAITH LEADERS HOLDING EVENT TO OPPOSE EXPANSION OF IMMIGRANT DETENTION AT JAIL ACCUSED OF INHUMANE CONDITIONS
Residents of New Jersey To March to the Essex County Jail to protest freeholders decision to Put Revenue Before Human Rights in approving a contract to house immigrant detainees at controversial Essex County Correctional Facility and Neighboring Delaney Hall .
ESSEX COUNTY, NJ – Concerned New Jersey residents including members of Pax Christi NJ and more than 20 immigrant rights and religious organizations from New York and New Jersey will march from Peter Francisco Park in Newark, NJ, to the Essex County Correctional Facility on Sunday in opposition to a new contract with Essex County that would expand immigration detention at the jail and the neighboring privately run Delaney Hall to house up to 1,250 immigrant detainees. The jail has been accused of inhumane conditions including proximity to active polluters and toxic waste sites; restrictions on visits from family, lawyers, and clergy; concerns about adequate food and general safety; and a denial to access of medical services.
- WHAT: March and Rally in Opposition to Inhumane Conditions at For-Profit Detention Center in Toxic Waste Corridor
- WHERE: Beginning at Peter Francisco Park (Adjacent to Newark Penn Station) in Newark, NJ, and marching to Essex County Correctional Facility & Delaney Hall, 356 Doremus Ave., Newark, NJ
- WHEN: 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM, Sunday, October 9, 2011
- Facebook Event Listing
“The Essex County Executive and the Freeholders want us to believe that they can spin the misery of the immigrants in their custody into gold for the rest of the residents of Essex County, but they are perpetuating an environment in which profit is the primary motivator while shirking their responsibility for oversight,” said faith leader Kathy O’Leary, who launched an online campaign on Change.org. She and Pax Christi NJ, the organization she represents, are a part of a statewide coalition of organizations which has been engaging the chosen freeholders in private and public meetings since January, consistently asking that the no new contract with ICE be approved prior to completing a thorough investigation of allegations of human rights abuses and violations of NJ law at the jail and instituting a community review board to ensure facilities comply with all applicable standards.
Participants and the coalition members are hoping to send the message that New Jersey residents are upset with the Freeholders’ decision. A large coalition of faith groups is asking that the Freeholders ensure visiting hours that include evenings and weekends; contact visits for family members; no restrictions on visits, phone calls, and other contact with lawyers and clergy; adequate mental and physical health care; healthy food that complies with dietary restrictions and religious observances; unrestricted access to communal religious services; and regular outdoor recreation free from exposure to hazardous environmental conditions. The online petition on Change.org has already garnered more than 2,000 signatures.
Sunday’s event is the third major protest outside the Essex County Correctional Facility and Delaney Hall since Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced its intention to partner with Essex County. The event is also the 13th annual protest against immigration detention by the immigrant rights group IRATE & First Friends, traditionally held outside the Elizabeth Detention Center. However, the protest is moving to Newark this year along with the detainees. The event is to take place just days after ICE completes transferring hundreds of immigrant detainees from the Elizabeth Detention Center to Delaney Hall and two years since ICE issued a report that was supposed to transform immigration detention from an unfairly penal system to one of humane civil detention.
ICE is saying the move to Essex is an attempt to improve conditions, but advocates disagree. “The policy of mandatory immigration detention is bad enough, but what ICE is holding up as the model of immigration detention for the entire country is a jail and a hastily partitioned penal facility next to active polluters and toxic waste in the middle of what is known as ‘chemical corridor.’ How is that an improvement? How can anyone call that more humane?” said Cynthia Mellon Environmental Justice & Community Organizer for the Ironbound Community Corporation.
The campaign is catching on and it is attracting the attention of national groups. “Kathy O’Leary and Pax Christi NJ’s campaign to demand more humane conditions for immigrant detainees is impressive,” said Jackie Mahendra, Change.org’s Director of Organizing for Immigrant Rights. “Change.org is about empowering anyone, anywhere to demand action on the issues that matter to them, and it’s been really incredible to see this campaign take off.”
Live signature totals from the Kathy O’Leary and Pax Christi NJ’s campaign:
- Carol Fouke-Mpoyo –Chairperson, Sojourners Immigration Detention Center Visitors Program
- Cynthia Mellon –Environmental Justice & Community Organizer, Ironbound Community Corp.
- Daniel Cummings – Monmouth County Coalition for Immigrant Rights
- Ed Martone –Executive Director NJ Association on Correction
- Maristela Freiberg & Moacir Weirich – St. Stephan’s Grace Lutheran Community Church
- Anabela Moura Silva – Wilson Avenue School parents group
- Sally Pillay – Coordinator Intern Program, IRATE & First Friends
Live music performed by the Catholic Worker Band and spoken word/hip-hop ballads performed by The Peace Poets
The event is co-sponsored by: Action 21; Action for Justice Community Church of NY Unitarian Universalist; American Friends Service Committee, Immigrant Rights Program-Newark; Bergen County Branch/People’s Organization for Progress; Casa Esperanza; Casa Freehold; CEUS; Community of Friends in Action, Inc.; Immigration Task Force, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey; Felician Sisters of Lodi; Ironbound Community Corporation; Middlesex County Coalition for Immigrant Rights; Monmouth County Coalition for Immigrant Rights; NJ DREAM Act Coalition; Pax Christi NJ; Riverside Sojourners Immigration Detention Visitor Project; St. Stephan’s Grace Community – ELCA; Sisters of Mercy, Mid-Atlantic Justice Office; Social Responsibility Council of the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood; Unidad Latina en Accion- NJ; Wind of the Spirit
For more information on Pax Christi NJ, please visit: http://paxchristiusa.org/
Pax Christi NJ is part of Pax Christi USA, a national Catholic organization, reaching over a half-million Catholics directly every year. We have over 400 local groups throughout the United States, over 100 bishop members, 700 parish sponsors, 600 religious communities, and 50 college and high school chapters.
For more information on Change.org, please visit: http://www.change.org/about
Change.org is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change — growing by more than 400,000 new members a month, and empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country.