The Human Stories Behind the Immigration Detention Contract in Essex County
Since Essex County signed its contract with ICE to expand immigration detention to 1250 people this past fall, Essex County has been in the news. Not just for the shady back doors deals and political contributions from the private for-profit company that received the immigration detention subcontract but also for the suffering that this contract is causing to local residents and their families.
In October, there was the story of Neida Lavayen whose fiance was taken into custody one week before their wedding and held at Delaney Hall until he was deported to Ecuador.
In November, there was the story of Michell and Yasser Valle who migrated to the US legally with their mother when they were in kindergarten and first grade, and although they were eligible for relief under ICE's new policy of prosecutorial discrection it looked as if they would be spending Thanksgiving in Delaney Hall.
In December, there was the story of Atanas Entchev who was invited to the US over 20 years ago as a visiting scholar and brought his 2 year old son, Enislav with him. Though both Atanas and Enislave were also eligible for relief under the policy of prosecutorial discretion they were taken into custody and held in Delaney Hall for 65 days.
Just before Christmas we learned of the story of Jose Pereira, the father of 2 US citizen children and the spouse of a US citizen who was incarcerated in the Essex County Jail awaiting deportation.
Just before New Year's the story of Charley Chehoud appeared in the press. Charley is currently being held in solitary confinement in the Essex County Jail despite entering the US legally 30 years ago and recently cooperating with police to solve several crimes including a murder.
These are just the stories that made it into the mainstream media. Each and every one of the people being held in immigration detention has his or her own story. Immigrants in detention include the parents and spouses of US citizens, asylum seekers and torture survivors. They include students, business owners, and community leaders. They include long time residents, legal permanent residents, and sometimes even US citizens who are wrongfully imprisoned.
Essex County is netting less than $20 per detainee per day. It is using this revenue as to justify participating in an inhumane system. The County refuses to recognize the immorality of incarcerating people for profit.
If you can, please join us on Wednesday February 22nd in our latest protest against the inhumane immigration detention system and the expansion in Essex County and NJ. We will be starting in Jersey City with a 12 with a mile walk to the Elizabeth Detention Center that includes stops at the Essex County Jail, the ICE Field Office and several houses of worship.
We will close the day with a vigil and prayer service at the Elizabeth Detention Center at 6 pm
Whether or not you can attend, please do not forget to sign the petition to tell the Essex County Freeholders to get out of the business of immigration detention because profiting from other people's misery is not a business that Essex County should be in.