By Esteban Guevara
Some 20 members and supporters of the coalition Resist the Deportation Machine Network or RDM gathered at the Essex County freeholders meeting on Dec. 19 to demand the immediate end to the use of the Essex County Jail as an ICE detention center in northern New Jersey.
Speaking out during public comments, critivs held the freeholders accountable for their inaction and their collusion with the racist and criminal ICE, which is terrorizing our communities.
Members of the immigrant community gave heart-wrenching testaments of the horror which migrant working families are being subjected as ICE has declared it will increase in raids and expand them into local communities and worksites when previously these raids had centered around criminal justice buildings.
ICE was responding to a directive issued by New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Growl limiting local police department cooperation with ICE.
Stories of children filled with the fear of not knowing if they’ll see their parents again once they go to school were some of the statements heard during the public comments.
Empty seats at holiday dinners
Some members of the RDM network made this point by dressing as Santa Claus and interrupting the meeting by singing pro-immigrant and anti-ICE Christmas carols. The lyrics of traditional Christmas songs were replaced with words such as “We wish you an ICE-free Christmas,” and “Prison Cells, ICE, please go away, immigrants are here to stay.”
Activists emphasized the vacant seats that will be found at many Christmas dinners in immigrant families throughout Essex County due to arrests.
Fathers and mothers, who otherwise should be home with their families this Christmas, will find themselves behind bars in the concentration camps known as the ICE detention center.
Democrats and Republican both enemies of immigrants
For close to two years, RDM has demand the immediate closure of the Essex County ICE detention center.
The coalition of activists, political organizations, faith leaders and grassroots organizations has organized protests and demonstrations, to put pressure on Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo and the Board of Chosen Freeholders to break the contract with ICE, which allows the agency to house over 700 immigrants and asylum seekers at the government-owned facility in Newark.
The revenue created by this contract, blood money obtained on the suffering and tears of broken migrant families, has been staunchly defended by the Democratic County Executive and freeholders.
This demonstrates once more that both Democratic and Republican politicians are not friends of the migrant communities.
The collaboration with Trump’s hardliners exposes the notion that Newark is a sanctuary city, as Mayor Ras Baraka alleged, or that New Jersey is a sanctuary state, as many politicians would have us believe, as nothing but a vile farce.
Essex County among top colluders with ICE
The Transactional Record Access Clearing House (TRAC), a Syracuse University research agency, recently reported that Essex County is among the top ten counties with the most “ICE community arrests” between October 2017 and May of this year.
Essex County had a greater number of ICE arrests than Maricopa County, Arizona, where the racist and bigoted ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio routinely persecuted Spanish-speaking and dark-skinned residents.
According to TRAC, in this period ICE made 676 “community arrests” in Essex County. The actual numbers of immigrants jailed is even higher, as the TRAC figures do not include immigrants transferred from the county to ICE custody.
Many of these detainees are never charged with any crime. They are just fingerprinted and booked into custody before being handed over to ICE.
Members of the RDM network say they will keep fighting until the Essex County breaks its contract and the ICE detention center is shut down.
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