The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) USA vehemently denounces the sudden deportation of Héctor García Mendoza after bravely speaking out against the dangerous and inhumane conditions forced on detainees at the Elizabeth Detention Center (EDC) in New Jersey.
The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) USA vehemently denounces the sudden deportation of Héctor García Mendoza after bravely speaking out against the dangerous and inhumane conditions forced on detainees at the Elizabeth Detention Center (EDC) in New Jersey. We condemn the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for failing to comply with a NJ federal court’s order granting emergency stay for Hector!
Héctor, 30, came to the United States in 2010 to escape violence and instability in southern Mexico. He was detained in EDC in March 2020 where he shared a dorm with dozens of other detained men, some of them ill. Living with chronic asthma, Héctor experienced chest pain and shortness of breath while detained, but the medical staff refused him adequate medical care. Today, instead of being given medical treatment and a chance to make a case for his asylum, ICE ruthlessly deported him.
Héctor is one of the four main plaintiffs who filed a class-action lawsuit against ICE and Elizabeth Detention Center, a private immigration prison in New Jersey operated by Core Civic. The lawsuit calls for immediate release of all detainees regardless of their record, health condition, age, or any other factors. It also seeks to stop ICE from admitting new people into EDC and from unilaterally transferring people from EDC to other immigration jails and prisons around the country. EDC and other detention centers are ill equipped to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and continue to expose immigrant detainees and workers at these centers to the virus.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, EDC and NJ detention centers had some of the worst health conditions for detainees with a high rate of mortality and suicide that
will only surge under these circumstances. Following the death of Carlos Mejia-Bonilla in Hudson County Jail, an investigation of the rampant medical neglect began in 2017. Currently, NJ prisons hold the highest rate of COVID-19 infections in the country with at least 29 deaths and only 184 tested as of April 28, 2020. So far, one prison guard died from COVID-19 in Elizabeth Detention Center, as well as two nurses and the facilities commissary director working at Hudson County Jail. While Essex County jail was one of the first facilities to undertake testing for detainees, there is extreme secrecy in sharing the results, and ICE is acting as a gatekeeper to decide who they will or will not release due to the pandemic.
For many migrant workers, especially the undocumented migrants, COVID-19 is not just a threat to their health but also to their security, as governments conduct crackdown operations, tighten border security, or set the stage for increased surveillance as part of their COVID-19 response. It is essentially a weaponization of COVID-19 response against migrants and other displaced peoples.
Migrants who have been detained, their families, advocates, and grassroots organizations have been mobilizing nationwide demanding to stop all deportations and to release all detainees. Many have launched hunger strikes, car caravan rallies, mass call-ins to ICE field directors and public officials, and widespread petitions, such as La Resistencia leading the fight against the North West Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington. It is only through organizing and mobilizing our communities on the grassroots level that we can reach a day where no one is incarcerated or detained in ICE custody.
We support the #FreeEDC campaign calls to action:
Justice for Hector! Hold ICE accountable!
Join the Emergency Overnight Vigil tonight May 19th until 12pm May 20th at Elizabeth Detention Center (625 Evans St. Elizabeth, NJ)
Join Press conference live from EDC May 20th 12pm for updates: https://bit.ly/Justice4HectorPressCon
Join the fight to free Elizabeth Detention Center detainees, and unite all struggles against imperialism to address the root causes of forced migration!
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Stop criminalizing migrants! Release all migrants and refugees!
Justice for Hector! Free EDC! Free Them All!
End forced migration! Defend and advance migrant rights!
Stop all deportations!
Fight detention and border militarization from the border to our homelands!