Filipinos demand to shut down NJ ICE detention center, condemn forced migration and US imperialism

For Immediate Release

January 28, 2018

Contact: Jessamyn Bonafe, Anakbayan NJ Chairperson,

Filipinos demand to shut down NJ ICE detention center, condemn forced migration and US imperialism

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(Photo: Federico Cruz)

Newark, NJ — Youth and student group Anakbayan New Jersey picketed in front of the Essex County Correctional Facility demanding to shut down the ICE detention center, release migrant detainees, and implement legalization for all! Anakbayan NJ joined over 125 participants and 25 progressive organizations of the Resist the Deportation Machine (RDM) network at this mobilization yesterday on January 27, 2018.

“The attacks on immigrant and migrant communities have brought us here today to fight against the imperialist beast. We know and see first hand the result of the criminalization of immigrant and migrant people,” said Jessamyn Bonafe, Anakbayan NJ Chairperson.

This protest comes at the heels of three reported Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids of 7-Eleven stores in New Jersey. To date, we know ICE has recently detained at least two Filipinos in the Hudson County Correctional Facility and another Filipino at the Elizabeth Detention Center.

At the Essex County Correctional Facility, the county receives $117 per day per bed that they allow ICE to use, as per a contract that County Executive Joe Divincenzo and freeholders signed with ICE. The contract promises 800 detainees at the center, making clear that the bed contract is nothing but a rotten profit-making scheme at the cost of migrants and their families.

At the Hudson County ICE location, five people have died since June 2017, three of them this month. Two reportedly committed suicide, and one due to medical conditions. News sources and detainees themselves have described to us before that living conditions are unsafe and medical treatment is difficult to attain in this facility—that is, detainees are kept just barely alive to make the profit quotas. Additionally, Hudson County is in a 287(g) agreement with ICE, allowing local correctional officers to arrest undocumented immigrants and perform other functions of immigration agents.

Bonafe added, “To combat this, Anakbayan NJ and fellow Filipino organizations have created a coalition called the Filipino American Organizations for Community, Unity, and Safety, or FOCUS, which has been working with community members to visit immigrant detainees to help and support them.” Anakbayan NJ has led campaigns for the successful release of two Filipinos detained by ICE in the Hudson County ICE detention center in just the past couple years.

Anakbayan NJ recognizes that detention and deportation are part of the bigger problem of forced migration created by US imperialism and imperialist wars of aggression. Every day, over 6,000 Filipinos are forced to leave the Philippines because of poverty and the plunder of the country’s rich resources by the imperialists and local ruling class. Estimates say that there may be one million Filipinos who are undocumented in the United States.

On the other side of the globe, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has done nothing to end forced migration. In fact, the number of Filipinos leaving the Philippines each day is only increasing due to his three corrupt and fascist wars on the people: the war on drugs (read: war on the poor), all-out war against progressive and revolutionary forces, and martial law in Mindanao.

With New Jersey’s high population of Filipinos, it is a particularly important place for Filipinos to join and organize with such local grassroots organizations as Anakbayan NJ, GABRIELA NJ, and Migrante NJ. We invite other Filipino organizations to build Filipino American Organizations for Community, Unity, and Safety (FOCUS) with us, and we welcome building alliances with non-Filipino organizations. Instances of this can already be seen through our work with the United Students Against Sweatshops (pictured above) and the RDM network.

“We are not free until every single one of us are free. So we demand genuine immigration reform! We demand the end of criminalization of immigrants and migrants! We demand to reunite all immigrants to their loved ones! We demand the reintegration of the detainees and assist them in finding jobs, obtaining visas or other documents! We demand legalization for all!” concluded Bonafe.