Resist the Deportation Machine Network rallied at Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ, on April 15 to confront County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo and to demand the closure of the ICE Detention Center in Newark, a proclaimed sanctuary city. The rally took place during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, and was widely seen by the community and by tourists. Demonstrators handed out flyers explaining the facts, and circulated a petition opposing the jail.
Protesters chanted at the politician, “Hey! Hey! Joe D! Let the immigrants run free!” and “When immigrant rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up fight back!” DiVincenzo was surrounded by members of the Essex County Sheriff Department.
RDM points out that the contract that Di Vincenzo and the Board of Chosen Freeholders have with ICE to hold 800 immigrant detainees at Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark is unconstitutional. The prisoners have neither been charged with nor convicted of a crime. The Essex County Freeholders, an elected body that authorized the Memorandum Agreement with ICE, can terminate it at any time without reason.
RDM is a coalition of faith leaders, activists, nonprofit, civic and political organizations, including the Party for Socialism and Liberation, working together to end the criminalization, detention, and deportation of undocumented peoples within New Jersey. The network is dedicated to the closure of the illegal ICE detention centers, and establishing equal rights for all people in the state of New Jersey.
Newark immigration arrests are highest in the state
Essex County has the highest number of pending immigration cases in the state of New Jersey. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2017 Newark had a staggering 42% increase in ICE. Arrests that year totaled 3,189 out of a population of 277,140. In comparison, New York City, with a population of 8.5 million, had 2,576 ICE arrests in 2017.
In February, Human Rights First published “Ailing Justice: New Jersey,” a report which finds conditions at Detention Centers in this state to be harsh, unhygienic and unsanitary; immigrants are confined indefinitely with no determined sentences; prisoners suffer maltreatment and discrimination from guards; food and water is inadequate and unsafe; disciplinary and protective segregation is employed . This is why protesters call these detention centers concentration camps.
At the April 15 action, RDM members Jay Arenas, Father Jack Martin and Saydy Tuanama presented DiVincenzo with a formal written demand for the closure of the Essex County concentration camp. DiVincenzo accepted the document and told the delegates, “I hear you,” as he shook hands. The demonstators consider the closure of the Newark ICE facility as the only proof that their message has been heard.