ACLU sues Biden administration over ICE detainees transferred from Newark prison

New Jersey
New Jersey announces restrictions on ICE cooperation

LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 14: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), agents detain an immigrant on October 14, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. ICE agents said the immigrant, a legal resident with a Green Card, was a convicted criminal and member of the Alabama Street Gang in the Canoga Park area. ICE builds deportation cases against thousands of immigrants living in the United States. Green Card holders are also vulnerable to deportation if convicted of certain crimes. The number of ICE detentions and deportations from California has dropped since the state passed the Trust Act in October 2013, which set limits on California state law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

NEWARK — The ALCU’s first lawsuit against the Biden administration involves a jail in northern New Jersey where immigration and customs enforcement detainees were transferred out illegally, they claim.

The American Civil Liberties Union launched a federal class-action lawsuit that seeks to immediately block the long-distance transfer of ICE detainees from the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark.

The case was brought by the national ACLU, the ACLU of New Jersey, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, on behalf of individuals detained at the facility who are facing transfer. 

The transfers come after Essex County announced they were ending a contract to house about 100 detainees at the jail with ICE.

The ACLU claims that when facilities close, ICE routinely transfers detained immigrants to remote spots across the country — in particular to Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and other places in the deep south. The result, they say, is that they are transferred often hundreds of miles from their families and other support networks, as well as their attorneys.

“We sued the Trump administration over 400 times, and the Biden administration is trying to resolve many of those suits,” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero in a statement. “Today’s suit is a challenge to a decision made by the Biden administration — it’s not a Trump hold-over. True to form, we will sue any administration — Democrat or Republican — and hold them accountable when they take positions that violate civil liberties and civil rights.”

The lawsuit cites violations of due process and the Immigration and Nationality Act. The groups are asking the court to prevent ICE from transferring immigration detainees at Essex who are represented by counsel to facilities more than 100 miles away.

Notably, the New Jersey state legislature has passed a new law through both chambers that would ban any state entity from doing further business with ICE, so this suit could be the first of several. Gov. Murphy has yet to sign the bill into legislation despite signing a flurry of bills into law Wednesday.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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