Over 100 Organizations Call For Release Of “All People At The Bergen County Jail To Protect Their Health & Well Being”


December 14th, 2020

Media Contacts:

Rebekah Entralgo, rentralgo@freedomforimmigrants.org

Kathy O’Leary, kolearypcnj@gmail.com


 Over 100 Community & Faith Based Organizations Call For

The Release Of “All People At The Bergen County Jail To

Protect Their Health & Well Being”


HACKENSACK, NJ- In response to the hunger strike by people in ICE detention in the Bergen County Jail, the Abolish ICE NY-NJ coalition issued the following statement in cooperation with allies including the Northern New Jersey Sanctuary Coalition. It is signed by over 100 organizations from New York and New Jersey. Key signatories include the Archdiocese of Newark, First Friends of New Jersey & New York, Salvation and Social Justice, and UU Faith Action NJ.


“We, the undersigned organizations, have grave concerns about the immediate health and safety of the eight men detained by ICE in the Bergen County Jail who have been on a hunger strike since November 27th, risking their lives to gain their release.


Immigrants incarcerated by ICE in the Bergen County Jail are forced to live in dangerously inhumane conditions, including rodent infestation, inadequate medical care, lack of drinkable water, poorly heated cells and purposefully-blocked windows. The men on hunger strike and their supporters have also experienced serious retaliation from the jailors.


The people in detention at the Bergen County Jail are at serious risk of COVID-19 infection as cases spike around the country and in New Jersey. Bergen was one of the first detention centers to have a person in ICE custody test positive, and we are concerned for everyone at Bergen County Jail as we are in the middle of another wave of the virus.


THEREFORE, we call for the immediate release of the men on hunger strike and of all people at the Bergen County Jail to protect their health and well-being, and we call on all civic and religious organizations as well as all of our elected officials to join us in this urgent call. The men on hunger strike have put their health and their lives on the line; we must not allow a tragedy to occur through our inaction or the inaction of our elected officials.”


One of the most notable signatories is the Archdiocese of Newark. Cardinal Tobin gave his authorization to sign the statement. Any questions regarding the Cardinal’s position should be directed to Fr. Timothy Graff rev.timothy.graff@rcan.org.


About Immigration Detention in New Jersey- New Jersey has four immigration detention facilities. Three are pursuant to intergovernmental service agreements between Bergen, Essex, and Hudson Counties and ICE. Each of the counties is paid a “bed rate” of between $110 and $120/day. The counties use the contracts, which date back as far as 25 years, to generate tens of millions of dollars in profit yearly. The contracts and their associated revenue are often celebrated by the elected Democrats who sign them. The fourth facility is the Elizabeth Detention Center, which is run by the private for-profit company CoreCivic, but the building is owned by a local company, The Elberon Development Group. The principals of Elberon, Anne Evans Estabrook and Dave Gibbons, contribute to the campaigns of local politicians and sit on the boards of local institutions including Kean University, NJPAC, and RWJBarnabas.

The Abolish ICE NY-NJ coalition is comprised of organizations including Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, Pax Christi New Jersey, Doctors for Camp Closures, Freedom For Immigrants, North New Jersey DSA, NYC DSA, First Friends of NJ NY, Ridgewood for Black Liberation, Green Party of New Jersey and others.