New Jersey Cry “Dignity, Not Detention”
Wednesday, outside the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, around 30 people gathered chanted, “Dignity, not detention!” to protest conditions for immigrant detainees as well as the detentions themselves.
‘Immigrants have equal rights. ... We don’t believe detention is the solution to the current broken (immigration) law,’ said Chia Chia Wang of the American Friends Service Committee to the crowd.
The rally was sponsored by New Labor and New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees, a coalition that includes Casa Freehold and the Monmouth County Coalition for Immigrant Rights.
The protest was part of the national day of action organized by the Detention Watch Network. The day marks the one-year anniversary of reform announcements made by the U.S Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
The reforms involved developing a risk assessment to determine where to house detainees, increasing awareness of detainees’ medical and mental health conditions, and identifying the immigrants suitable to be released into the community.
In August of 2009, ICE officials announced the creation of an Office of Detention Oversight, an Office of Detention Policy and Planning, an two advisory boards.
‘From what we have seen,’ said Wang, ‘nothing has changed (in the past year).’
John Leschak of Casa Freehold believes ICE should rely more on alternative to detention programs such as allowing immigrants to undergo supervised release rather than be forced to remain detained until their immigration cases are settled.
Supervised release would allow the immigrants to remain with their families and a part if their communities. His resolution would be more humane and stand to be more const effective than detention.
New Jersey has 4 other facilities that house immigrant detainees aside from Monmouth County Jail in Freehold Township. As of Wednesday the October 6th, 236 such inmates were housed in the jail, according to Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office.