Immigrant Leaders & Allies Demand 'Releases Not Transfers'

NEWARK (N.J.) — Immigrant leaders of the Cosecha Movement, along with immigration justice organizers, held a protest at the entrance of the Newark SAC office early Tuesday morning, to join a protest against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) transfers where people held home-made signs that read “Releases Not Transfers’’ and “Dems Deport Too.”

Outside 'Homeland Security Investigation Office,' Newark, NJ, July 20, 2021. (Photo Credit/Coseca Movement)

The protestors chained themselves together, blocking the entrance of the Newark SAC office in response to escalating human rights abuses by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The group are calling attention to this identified office, located in a desolate industrial neighborhood, serving as an “ICE black site,” and demanding for Governor Murphy to sign Bill A5207/S3361 – a bill that would bar any future agreements, or the renewal, or expansion of existing ones – that was approved by state lawmakers and currently awaits Governor Murphy’s signature.

The Bill:

Bill A5207/S3361 passed the Senate (both houses) on June 24.

  • 23 votes in favor (all Democrats)

  • 15 votes against the bill (all Republicans)

  • 2 [?] did not vote on the measure; Sen. Sacco, Nicholas J. (D), and Sen. Addiego, Dawn Marie (D).

Governor Murphy’s office has been contacted and they declined to comment on pending legislation.

In recent months, advocates calling for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agreements that allowed federal immigration detainees to be held in New Jersey to end, have seen their efforts pay off. Essex County public officials announced in April the end of the ICE contract with the county.

In spite of statewide grassroots pressure forcing state lawmakers to take action, advocates, lawyers and families are now seeing detainees being transferred rather than released.

In Hudson and Bergen County, despite months of statewide pressure by organizers and allies, leading organizers to have a bill - to ban all future ICE contracts - introduced and passed (Bill A5207/S3361), advocates fear transfers will continue and are demanding the release of all people in detention in New Jersey and across the country.

Advocates say that this particular Homeland Security Investigations office is the location where unmarked vans bring detainees, followed by ICE processing deportations and transfers.

As stated by Attorney Steven Sacco on twitter, 'ICE continues to use transfers to terrorize detainees and disappear people, without the knowledge of their families, lawyers, & organizers.' Sacco is also calling for a free democratic society, asking for New Jersey leaders to defend democracy and abolish ICE.

According to a news release from the group, Haydi Torres, an organizer with Movimiento Cosecha said:

“Every day ICE abducts people from their homes, their workplaces, their communities. Every day ICE transfers people in detention in the dead of night from one location to another, without telling people why or where they are going, without notifying family or lawyers. Every day ICE deports people to their possible deaths, to permanent exile away from their families and communities. In New Jersey, all of this ICE terror is organized through this office and we are here to expose it.”

“We have to remember that Democrats deport, too. We’re tired of living in a culture of mass deportations, deportations that happen under both Democratic and Republican administrations,”

Torres said, emphasizing the role of immigration detention in the larger mass incarceration system.

“It’s all a pipeline that feeds the system with new bodies to profit from. The jails can end their ICE contracts, but they are replacing the empty beds by criminalizing others. The criminalization of people of color, whether in ICE detention or county jails, is a single system. We cannot celebrate the closure of detention centers if it comes at the expense of criminalizing and caging others.”

Detainees and organizers have held multiple hunger strikes in the last two years, protesting the inhumane conditions, lack of COVID-19 safety measures, and the abusive nature of the transfers themselves.

Outside 'Homeland Security Investigation Office,' Newark, NJ, July 20, 2021. (Photo Credit/Coseca Movement)

With a friendlier White House, and Democratic leadership talking about their support of Dreamers after the latest Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) decision; advocates and allies are questioning how the Biden administration can be so public about its support of immigrants, yet allowing for ICE to continue to function in violation of constitutional protections, international human rights law, and medical ethics.

Last month alone, around 50 detainees were transferred from the Essex County jail to Georgia, Massachusetts and Nevada. This issue was brought to the attention of the ACLU, which became a legal matter in the first lawsuit by the ACLU-NJ against the Biden Administration, seeking to immediately block the long-distance transfer of ICE detainees from the ICE facility in Newark, N.J.

Today’s protesters come from a wide range of organizations, including Movimiento Cosecha, Abolish ICE NY-NJ, NYC ICE Watch, Never Again Action, Close the Camps, and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.


Don’t Look Away: ICE Detention and Hunger Strike at Bergen County (NJ) Jail

ICE out of Kean!

Abolish ICE NY-NJ Coalition – Press Release



Abolish ICE NY-NJ


Never Again Action

Close the Camps

Jews for Racial and Economic Justice


Laura Palacios Sierra

(845) 204–1085

Josh Bloom

(551) 482- 2044

Pierce as a human rights advocate. Follow Pierce on Twitter. Connect with WeekenderNJ on Facebook, Twitter and IG.

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