Newark New Jersey protest demands Joe Biden close ICE detention center
3 minute read
Protest in Newark
A rally and march organized by immigration and climate change activists, as part of a National Day of Action, to demand that the Biden administration close all detention centers, release all people in detention, and end deportations, in Newark, New Jersey, on Friday. September 15, 2023.
Tariq Zahawi, NorthJersey.com
NEWARK – Protesters took to the streets Friday to address two of the day’s hot-button issues: immigration and climate change.
The march, which began at the Gateway Center near Penn Station and ended with a rally at the Peter Rodino Federal Building on Broad Street, was part of a national day of action calling on the Biden administration to close all immigration detention centers — including the latest one in New Jersey. , in Elizabeth, which has remained open amid a legal challenge. The demonstrators called on the administration to release all detained immigrants across the United States and end deportations. These efforts were mirrored by marches that took place on Friday in several cities, including New York City, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C
New Jersey activists were gathering over the summer to shut down the Elizabeth Detention Center, the last New Jersey detention center used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The facility can house up to 300 people.
Last month, a federal court judge upheld a preliminary injunction sought by prison company CoreCivic against a state ban that would have forced it to close the center. Governor Phil Murphy and State Attorney General Matthew Platkin are appealing the court’s decision. Meanwhile, CoreCivic and ICE reached a contract extension for the company to continue operating the center for another year at a price of $19.9 million.
ICE detainee speaking
About 30 protesters at the rally heard from Juan Regalado, who resides in Princeton with his wife and three children, and said he was detained at the Elizabeth Detention Center for about seven months after making a required check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in January 2019.
With the help of a translator, Regalado said through tears that he suffered from malnutrition, unsanitary conditions and the fear of being deported to his native Honduras. At one point, he lifted his shirt to show his back, which he said was scarred from his time at the Defense Development Centre. Regalado was launched from the center in July 2019.
Regalado told NorthJersey.com after he spoke that he did not get a medical opinion on why he had the scars, but he believes it was caused by mold and dirt on the mattress he slept on.
“It was an absolutely unforgettable experience for me,” Regalado said. “To think that I would never see my daughters again, my family, and if I returned to my homeland I would be killed.”
CoreCivic did not directly respond to NorthJersey.com’s questions about the Newark protest, the call to close the centers or the Regalado story.
“CoreCivic does not enforce immigration laws or policies or have any say whatsoever in the deportation or release of any individual,” said Ryan Gostin, a spokesman for the Tennessee-based company.
But Justin disputed Regalado’s comments about conditions at EDC, saying, “The safety, health and well-being of the individuals entrusted to our care is CoreCivic’s highest priority.” “At Elizabeth and all of our facilities, we serve three nutritious meals a day that employees often eat as well.”
more: While Murphy rejects asylum seekers, these groups are already settling them in New Jersey
He referred all other inquiries regarding immigration policy and Regalado’s residency to ICE. Christine Cutita, a spokeswoman for the agency, did not respond to questions sent on Friday.
The Newark protest also doubled as a demand for the federal government to halt any new oil and gas drilling on public lands, which has been cited as having a significant impact on climate change. It was held ahead of Sunday’s march to end fossil fuels and the UN Climate Ambition Summit scheduled for Wednesday, both of which are being held in New York City.
Immigrant advocates and environmental activists marched side-by-side through downtown Newark for half an hour while carrying placards and banners advocating their causes.
After arriving at the Federal Building, site of the Newark ICE office, speakers criticized President Joe Biden, who they said had not fulfilled his 2020 presidential campaign promise of a more humane immigration policy than under former President Donald Trump., Who quickly detained immigrants. They also complained that Biden failed to do enough to address climate issues.
During the march, Teaneck activist Paula Rogovin called on the federal government to stop approving fossil fuel projects. She spoke to NorthJersey.com about the connection between the issues that were at the forefront of Friday’s events.
“A lot of migration is linked to climate change issues,” Rogovin said. “There is drought and farmers cannot grow their crops.” “There is mass migration due to climate change and we have to work together on these issues.”
Ricardo Kolesar covers race, immigration and culture for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the top stories from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.