Biden, Bollwage: New Jersey Doesn’t Want an ICE Detention Center in Elizabeth

Governor Phil Murphy, U.S. Senator Menendez, U.S. Representative Rob Menendez, and State Representative Joe Cryan support closure of the Elizabeth Detention Center

Protesters outside Elizabeth Detention Center in New Jersey
Protesters outside Elizabeth Detention Center in New Jersey. | Photo:

By Detention Watch Network

Elizabeth, New Jersey – With just five weeks until the Elizabeth Detention Center’s (EDC) contract expires on August 31, dozens gathered to protest the continued arrest and incarceration of immigrant community members. Despite a 2021 law banning private companies from entering or renewing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contracts in New Jersey, the Biden Administration and ICE have expressed their intent to renew the Elizabeth Detention Center’s private prison contract held by CoreCivic for an additional 12 months.

The Elizabeth Detention Center is the last remaining immigration detention center in New Jersey with a long documented record of abuse. It is emblematic of how the national detention system is racist, inhumane, and fatally flawed beyond repair. New Jersey residents as well as national supporters have been explicitly clear that they do not want the facility operating in their community and they want the facility shut down for good.

Victims of ICE’s deadly detention system were honored at a Sunday vigil in front of the Elizabeth Detention Center with portraits of the 11 people who have died in ICE custody throughout President Biden’s administration. The lives of the two men who died as a result of the facility, Boubacar Bah and Victor Ramirez-Reyes, were also commemorated but whose deaths occurred under the Bush and Obama administrations in 2007 and 2011.

Yesterday, the same committed groups continued their momentum in front of the Union County Courthouse with local Elizabeth residents joining the demonstration and cars honking in support. The converted warehouse known as the Elizabeth Detention Center has jailed immigrants since 1994, under the authority of Elizabeth City Mayor Christian Bollwage. After gathering, protesters chanted their way to City Hall attempting to deliver letters of support and reports of Elizabeth Detention Center’s abuse to the Mayor himself. The materials were left with his secretary as the groups patiently await the Mayor’s response.

As the expiration of EDC’s contract approaches on August 31, New Jersey communities are calling on local and federal politicians to end the EDC’s contract, ensure people are immediately released and not transferred to other detention facilities, and make sure the Elizabeth Detention Center shuts down permanently. A coalition of New Jersey groups plans to have more events in August for the community to join and learn more about this effort.


Abolish ICE NY/NJ
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Immigrant Rights Project of Newark
Casa Freehold
Cosecha New Jersey
Deportation & Immigration Response Equipo (DIRE) Support Services & Legal Services
Detention Watch Network
Elizabeth Catholic Worker
First Friends New Jersey & New York
Interfaith Campaign for Just Closures
New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice
Northern New Jersey Sanctuary Coalition
North New Jersey Democratic Socialists of America
Party for Socialism and Liberation – New Jersey
Pax Christi New Jersey
Unidad Latina en Acción NJ
Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center

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