Tag Archive: immigrant rights

What’s Your Trump Era Top 5?

I’ve been thinking about that scene in Forrest Gump when he runs back and forth across the country for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours. He gains a following. People find purpose in what he’s doing. He’s peppered with questions…
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Occupy the Essex County Freeholders

promoted by Rosi

For everyone who missed yesterday’s festivities at Occupy Newark and the Occupy the Freeholders event below is a short overview. You can also read the hashtag #OccupyICE on Twitter you will get some more of the blow by blow.  

It was pouring rain yesterday so I don’t begrudge anyone who did not show up to the rally, but kudos to those who did.  We were a small group but we were joined by a couple members from Occupy Newark who did not lack in enthusiasm and lead chants of “jobs not jails” and “no prisons for profit” as we marched first to Wells Fargo next to the Federal Building and then to the POP rally before heading into the Hall of Records.  

The real drama, however, was at the Essex County Freeholders meeting. About 20 people testified in opposition to the ICE contract.  As a result, we tied up the meeting for at least an hour.  

Stop Understanding, Start Feeling

As I sat down to write this blog post, about our upcoming protest on December 7th in Newark over the for-profit immigration detention contract, I was tempted to lead with statistics about the percentage of foreign born residents in Essex County.  Then I remembered a quote from a book on racial justice by Rev. Bryan Massingale. “We act justly not because we are intellectually convinced, but because we are passionately moved. Compassion moves the will to justice.”

As a movement and as individual activists, there is a tendency toward providing facts, data and statistics that support just immigration policy.  There is the belief that if only we could effectively combat the tremendous body of misinformation we would prevail.  The problem is that one of the primary tactics of the campaign against immigration reform is an attempt to dehumanize an entire group of people.  

However, it becomes obvious, that what is fueling the anti-immigrant movement is anything but rational.  The statistics are simply a justification for a deep seated fear of people who are in some way different.  It is a deep seated fear that these new people will upset the social order.

I am often asked why I am an advocate for immigration reform.  After all, being an advocate for social change of any kind does not win a person any popularity contests, particularly not in New Jersey’s suburbs.  

Work Hard, Go to School, End Up in Jail

Good post from over the weekend. – promoted by Rosi

Work hard, go to school, get ahead.  Isn’t that the American Dream we were all brought up to believe in?

That is not the case for two brothers from Passaic County. Michell D. Valle and Yasser S. Valle were born in Peru and immigrated to the United States in 1989, at the young age of 6 and 5 years old. Both graduated high school and attended college in their pursuit of the American dream.  That dream became a nightmare for Michell, the father of two US citizen children, when he was detained October 25, 2010 after years of going through all the proper legal channels to adjust his immigration status. His brother Yasser followed his brother when he was detained on August 5, 2011.

The Valle brothers should qualify for relief from both detention and deportation based on new guidelines that were issued to all ICE field offices by DHS back in June.  

Wells Fargo – Dump the Prison Stock! Invest in Humanity

“We’re responsible for being leaders to promote the long-term economic prosperity and quality of life for everyone in our communities. If they prosper, so do we.”

That’s what Wells Fargo says about its “goal for social responsibility” but their investments say otherwise.  

Wells Fargo has a major presence in New Jersey’s urban centers and neighborhoods.  It’s marketing strategy includes a significant outreach to minorities and immigrants.  However, it is one of the largest investors in private prisons.  Their investments include GEO Group which owns Delaney Hall(it subsequently leases the building to the politically connected company CEC) and Corrections Corp of America (CCA) which owns and operates the Elizabeth Detention Center.  

Wells Fargo and its investors are making billions while people suffer as these for-profit prison operators squeeze every last dime out of the facilities they run. This means smaller food portions, denial of access to medical care, inadequately and poorly trained  guards, limited access to personal hygiene items, more prisoners to a cell, etc.  

These conditions exist in a system with limited oversight which is further shrouded by corporate secrecy.  This focus on profit over human rights creates an environment where abuse is overlooked, tolerated and, in the most egregious cases, justified.  

All She Asked Was That Her Brother Be Treated Humanely

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“Please we need help from each & every one of you.” the sister of a man held at Delaney Hall, a for-profit immigration detention center in Essex County said.

On October 9th outside of Delaney Hall, the private, for-profit correctional facility that is housing ICE detainees as part of a deal with Essex County, protesters met a woman who had waited an hour and a half to see her brother only to be turned away. She told us how badly her brother was being treated and with tears in her eyes she begged for help.

Please watch the video  

Overstated Profit, Underestimated Costs, & Limited Oversight = An Invitation for Abuse

The company in question, CEC,  is Gov. Christie’s BFF’s company, master privatizer William Palatucci, its Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Public Affairs, and its lobbyist for 15 years. – promoted by Rosi

This past August, the Essex County Executive, Joe DiVincenzo, entered into an inter-governmental services agreement (IGSA) with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to increase the number of ICE detainees held in Essex County to 1250.  The contract is being touted as a way to generate huge revenue for the county, which may, in turn, benefit some property owners. However, serious questions regarding whether the county will experience any net benefit from the contract, and the effect that incarceration for profit will have on already inhumane conditions remain.  We are also left with the overarching question of whether or not using the incarceration of people as a way to make money is an acceptable way for Essex County to raise revenue.

Unfortunately for Essex County’s coffers, the prison business is labor intensive and one where economies of scale do not easily apply.  The $50 million per year the County Executive claims Essex will receive is significantly overstated.  Essex County has admitted, through written communication, that this is both a gross revenue number and one calculated using an absolute best case scenario of all 1250 beds being filled at all times at the full $108/day reimbursement rate.  

ICE’s Model for Immigration Detention Sits in “Chemical Corridor”

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Earlier this week at a press conference in front of the Hall of Records in Newark, Cynthia Mellon, the Environmental Justice & Community Organizer for the Ironbound Community Corp., talked about the high levels of pollution, the poor air quality and the concerns about the county’s inability to evacuate the occupants of the Essex County Jail and Delaney Hall in the event of a chemical spill  at a press conference denouncing Essex County’s new contract with ICE.  

Essex County’s Profit Motives Will Make a Broken Immigration System Worse

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“When prisoners become units from which profit is derived, there is a tendency to see them as commodities rather than as children of God.”  From “Wardens from Wall Street: Prison Privatization” a pastoral letter from the Catholic Bishops from the South

After last Wednesday’s vote by the Essex County Board of Chose Freeholders to approve a contract that would expand immigration detention at the Essex County Jail and neighboring Delaney Hal, the Board VP Ralph Caputo explained the vote in a conversation with a reporter from the Star Ledger.