A coalition of immigrant rights activists rallied in Foley Square on Sept. 23 to demand President Joe Biden’s administration end deportations and release those detained through a countrywide action.
The criticism comes over the mass deportations of Haitian refugees from Texas, resulting in rallies throughout the country on Thursday, one of which took place in Manhattan in the shadow of the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse.
Advocates from various organizations including the Abolish ICE NY/NJ Coalition, Families for Freedom, Queer Detainee, Make the Road NY, and more demanded President Biden immediately cease the removals. Flaunting protest signs reading “Abolish Ice” and “Let them all go,” the demonstration not only asked for those in Texas to be freed but is also calling for the shutdown of all detention facilities, including Hudson County Correctional Center in New Jersey.
According to the protest groups, Hudson County has communicated to ICE that they will no longer house immigrants as of Nov. 1, 2021. In place of simply transferring detainees, advocates are requesting they be released back to their families.
Amidst the chants and pleas, several speakers read statements from those who say detainees are separated from their families in facilities that are rife with human rights violations — including mistreatment from immigration officers and the lack of basic necessities such as food and hot water.
“My name is Alexander Gomez; I am detained by Immigration Customs and Enforcement at the Hudson County Correctional Center. I arrived on June 7, I have been here for over 90 days. I suffer from Paralysis from my waist down, every morning I can’t get up from my bed by myself, I have to use homemade contraptions to pull myself up to a standing position,” Gomez’s attorney read aloud. “I have asked for a cane many times, but they refuse to give me one. Sometimes five men have to help me walk just to get me to the bathroom. I get ibuprofen to deal with the pain even though I have gout, arthritis, and hypertension.”
A legal representative of an individual currently held in Hudson County Correctional Center spoke to spectators via phone. Kerron Jack’s voice was amplified by placing the cellphone to a megaphone.
“I am currently detained at Hudson County; I have been detained at Hudson County for approximately a year. We don’t want to be transferred; we want to be released. I would like to encourage you to continue to protest on our behalf so we can be released and reunited with our families,” Jack said.
With conditions inside Hudson County reportedly dire and outbreaks of COVID-19 spreading, the coalition said the time to “release them all” is now.