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Immigrant justice organizers blockade ICE black site in New Jersey

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26.07.2021

This story was originally published at Prism.

At sunrise Tuesday morning, a broad coalition of immigrant justice organizers from groups across the New York metropolitan area halted operations at a remote Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) field office in Newark, New Jersey. The site of the protest is largely shaped by its industrial landscape and proximity to Newark International Airport. What’s less well known is that it’s also home to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) investigations office located at 620 Frelinghuysen Avenue, what organizers refer to as an “ICE black site”—the final stop for ICE detainees before they are forcibly transferred to facilities in other states or deported from the U.S. For roughly five hours, organizers from groups including Movimiento Cosecha, Abolish ICE NY-NJ, NYC ICE Watch, Never Again Action, Close the Camps, and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice held a human chain that blocked two gates outside of the facility and prevented a small fleet of DHS vans from entering the site, stopping an international flight that was slated to transport detainees for the day.

Organizers have been calling for the immediate release of those held there in ICE custody, arguing that use of the site both separates families and disrupts communication between detained people and their legal counsel.

The majority of ICE detainees held in facilities such as Essex County Jail are from New York, but many are transferred to other states as far away as Georgia, Louisiana, and Alabama. These transfers occur after detainees are first sent to the Newark black site and often happen quietly, at night, and without their loved ones or lawyers even knowing.

“ICE literally steals our neighbors and then acts like it’s not happening,” said Kelly, an organizer with Movimento Cosecha, an immigrant-led network of organizers working toward the permanent protection of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. “I work in schools where kids have lost family members to deportation.”

Many assume that ICE detention of undocumented people is no longer a pressing issue because of the new presidential administration and political climate, Kelly said, “but nothing went away. There were concentration camps then and there are still concentration camps now.”

Currently, there are more than 27,000 immigrants in detention in the United States—an 82% increase from the start of the Biden administration. To highlight Democrats’ often underreported........

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