Justice advocates call out politicians

A coalition of immigrant, labor, community, faith, human rights and socialist organizations, will hold a demonstration on Saturday, March 6 at 2 PM at Raymond Plaza in Newark to demand that President Joe Biden and Governor Phil Murphy free all immigrant detainees immediately with emergency orders.

The protesters are also demanding that Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez introduce legislation, which the Democrats can pass immediately, to end all detentions and deportations and to guarantee equal rights to all who live here regardless of their place of birth.

Biden, Booker, Menendez, and Murphy –along with many other Democratic officials — say they want to fight the virus and end Trump’s vicious anti-immigrant policies.

“Well, then, if Biden, Murphy and the others are serious about their opposition to Trump, they need to act now and free all the detainees and shut down these concentration camps, including the ones in New Jersey I was dragged to,” said Marcial Morales, an immigrant who was confined in deplorable conditions at the Essex and Bergen county concentration camps before winning his release after a weeks long hunger strike.

Despite the campaign rhetoric and promises, 14,000 immigrants remain detained without charge or trial in Essex, Bergen and Hudson County Jails and across the United States.

“Those detainees’ basic human rights have been gravely violated—the detentions are and have always been unconstitutional,” said Lisa McCormick, a progressive advocate for justice. “The violations of the detainees’ rights undermines the rights of all.”

People in overcrowded conditions like jails or concentration camps are vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Detainees are suffering Covid infections at a rate 13 times that of the general population.

“They packed us in like cattle,” said Bryan Vergara, who was held at the Hudson county concentration camp before winning his freedom.

“When my comrades and I went on a hunger strike to demand our freedom from this death sentence, the authorities punished and threatened us. This included threatening that I would never see my daughter again unless I ended the hunger strike,” said Vergara.

This not only endangers the lives and health of those who are held unconstitutionally. It helps the virus to spread, through the guards and other employees, to the general community. Virus particles don’t check your papers or your birthplace.

Holding immigrant detainees is not only an assault on all our rights, a crime against basic justice, it helps the coronavirus to spread, kill and evolve more dangerous variants.

Biden and Murphy must free the immigrants immediately with emergency orders said Jay Arena, a leader of the movement.

Every day they delay deepens the injustices and helps the virus. Detainees must be tested for Covid and vaccinated upon release.

Freeing immigrant detainees is an urgent first step towards our goal of a Workers Recovery—ending the pandemic and preventing future pandemics by eliminating the conditions that give rise to them.

Where the rally will be held in the Ironbound, air pollution is among the worst in the nation, leading to asthma rates triple the average, weakening lungs and making them more vulnerable to the coronavirus, according to Arena.

Essex County has also had almost triple the COVID mortality rate as the US as a whole. We demand an immediate halt to all further concentration of waste processing in Newark and the immediate initiation of a State-financed project, paid for by taxing the rich, to eliminate the toxic sources of air pollution from all waste treatment, industrial sites and diesel truck traffic, Arena said.

Among the specific demands Arena’s group is fighting to achieve are:

  • All who live here, regardless of national origin, immigrant status, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender, have equal rights. We refuse to be divided by racism by sexism by religious bigotry. We oppose institutional racism, discrimination and the disparities created in society. End all deportations, detentions, and violations of due process rights. End all limits on the right to vote, to unionize, to organize and to strike. Freedom of movement for all. Without equal rights, we can’t unite to defend our lives.
  • All who live here have the right to quality and equal free education, health care, transportation, housing, clean air and water, and clean energy. The government must provide democratically-controlled quality services for all, paid for by taxing the rich and corporations, defunding the police, slashing weapons spending and ending all US wars, occupations and military aid that force people to migrate. Lack of adequate health care, fossil-fuel-driven air pollution which has weakened everyone’s lungs, and overcrowded housing has led to this pandemic spreading out of control.
  • All who live here have the right to good jobs at good, living wages. Providing quality free education, health care, transportation, housing and clean energy will also provide guaranteed good jobs for all. The desperation that leads people to risk their health to hang on to a job must end.
  • Socialization of finance. Public ownership with democratic control of all finance—banks, insurance, investment companies. The Federal government has bailed out the financial companies with our tax money and without our consent twice over—it must exercise its ownership, not give it away to billionaire shareholders.

Endorsers of the call for freedom are Jobs and Equal Rights for ALL, Green Party of NJ, NJ Anti-War Agenda, Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War, New York State Youth Leadership Council, Freedom For Immigrants, New Jersey Industrial Union Council, Democrats for Change NJ, North New Jersey Democratic Socialists of America, and Bergen County Socialists.

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