Biden’s U-Turn: The Fight to Close New Jersey’s Immigrant Jails

Remember when President Joe Biden declared, back in April 2021, that private detention centers “should not exist”? His promise of change and his commitment to shutting down such facilities seemed genuine. Fast forward to today, and those words have wilted away. Now, his administration is siding with CoreCivic, a major private prison firm, challenging a New Jersey law that sought to ban contracts with private prisons.

In Trenton today, New Jersey’s spirit of activism thrives as people gather outside the courthouse. They’re taking a stand against CoreCivic, ICE, and the Biden administration, whose actions scream louder than their previous promises.

The Dark Side of the Elizabeth Detention Center

Nestled between warehouses at the end of a quiet alley, the Elizabeth Detention Center has become a symbol of inhumanity and cruelty. As a home base for our advocacy group, Movimiento Cosecha, we’re all too familiar with the stories of suffering from within those walls. From neglect during the COVID-19 pandemic to other reports of mistreatment, these tales have haunted our community for years.

But we’re resilient. In a world where undocumented immigrants are too often seen as profit-making opportunities rather than human beings, organizations, and community members have banded together to fight back. And the victories have been notable. Through grassroots activism and public outcry, 2021 saw the closure of three publicly run immigrant jails in New Jersey, a monumental step towards justice.

Yet, the Elizabeth Detention Center, backed by the mighty ICE, still looms large. With its contract due to end this August, today’s courtroom drama will decide its fate. And shockingly, Biden’s administration, which once promised to stand with immigrants, now allies itself with CoreCivic against New Jersey’s clear stance.

The Garden State’s Values Under Threat

Today’s courtroom showdown isn’t just about one detention center. It’s about the soul of New Jersey. Our state, with its rich tapestry of communities and cultures, has always championed family, dignity, and respect. From our grassroots organizations to top state officials, New Jersey’s message is clear: we want the Elizabeth Detention Center closed.

But President Biden’s U-turn betrays not just New Jersey’s immigrants, but also its very values. By siding with the private-prison industry, he’s chosen profit over people. As we await the court’s decision, one thing remains clear: New Jersey won’t forget where Biden stood.

Whatever today’s outcome, our state’s commitment to justice remains unwavering. We’ll keep up the fight, whether it’s outside city halls, detention centers, or any other symbol of oppression. The Elizabeth Detention Center’s days are numbered, and we won’t rest until its doors are closed for good. Our battle cry? No one, whether immigrant or not, should be imprisoned. Period.