Over 70 Organizations Across 20 States Demand Biden Shut Down the Elizabeth Detention Center in New Jersey, Reverse Decision Undermining State’s Anti-Detention Law

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, July 20, 2023

United States - Advocates are demanding the Biden Administration take action to shut down the Elizabeth Detention Center in New Jersey after the administration filed an amicus brief this week supporting private prison operator CoreCivic's attempt to keep the prison open. 

The Elizabeth Detention Center, a converted warehouse with nearly 30 years of documented abuse, is approaching its contract expiration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on August 31, 2023, and is barred from renewing its contract under a 2021 state law. However, by filing this amicus brief, the Biden administration and ICE have explicitly expressed their plans and intent to undermine New Jersey’s anti-detention legislation and renew the Elizabeth Detention Center contract for an additional twelve months.

Elizabeth Detention Center exemplifies the systemic abuse of the immigration detention system at large. Community organizations nationwide are demanding the Biden Administration shut down all detention centers, including the Elizabeth Detention Center, retract its amicus brief, support the needs of people in New Jersey, and allow communities to end their reliance on carceral economies. 

“CoreCivic is notorious for its perverse profit model. In 2021, the year that New Jersey’s anti-detention bill became law, CoreCivic generated $1.9 billion in revenue. We rebuke the Biden Administration’s decision to side with a corporation that both figuratively and literally ‘makes a killing’ off of immigration detention, forced prison labor, e-surveillance, and have been called out for numerous abuses and scandal cover-ups in their time as a private prison owner and operator,” said Amy Torres with New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice. “New Jersey fought for this bill to become law and we will fight to defend it. Corporations, especially ones like CoreCivic, shouldn’t be allowed to bend and break the rules simply because they can’t profit from them. We stand in full support of the Governor and Office of the Attorney General as they fight to defend the law and call for further protections to keep our communities together.”

Across the country, the movement to end detention is growing: New Jersey is one of seven states that have passed state legislation that would end ICE detention contracts, with at least four other states having attempted to pass anti-detention legislation. This letter of solidarity has garnered 68 organizational signatures.

Immigrant rights advocates from across the country offered the following messages of support:

“We stand in community with our allies in New Jersey and nationwide. With their passage of AB5207 and ongoing defense, and their fight to create a reality without detention, New Jersey advocates unequivocally stand on the right side of history. The Biden administration should be ashamed of aligning itself with private prison profits, instead of with the community. From coast to coast, the swell of public awareness of the abuses in these detention centers and the advocacy to close them, is growing. We demand that the Biden administration join community to shut down these unnecessary detention centers once and for all,” said Grisel Ruiz, Supervising Attorney at Immigrant Legal Resource Center

“We stand in solidarity with communities in New Jersey that have fought hard to end ICE detention in their state. From New Mexico to New Jersey, we have witnessed deaths in detention caused by medical neglect, impermissible use of solitary confinement, as well as egregious conditions such as rat and bug infestations, crumbling infrastructure, sewage spills, and inedible food. We urge the Biden Administration to shut down immigration detention centers and reverse its actions undermining state legislation to end detention at the local level,” said Sophia Genovese, Managing Attorney at the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center.

“We are enraged by the Biden Administration’s decision to side with private prison company CoreCivic rather than with the people of New Jersey who have campaigned hard to end detention in their state. Public or private, detention is unnecessary and rife with systemic abuse and neglect. We demand the Biden Administration fulfill its campaign promise and shut down detention centers, including the Elizabeth Detention Center,” said Stacy Suh, Program Director at Detention Watch Network.


National - 18 Million Rising
National - American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
National - Bend the Arc: Jewish Action
National - Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
National - Freedom for Immigrants
National - Human Rights First
National - Immigrant Justice Network
National - Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC)
National - Justice Action Center
National - Mijente
National - National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
National - National Immigration Project (NIPNLG)
National - Showing Up for Racial Justice
National - UndocuBlack Network
Washington D.C. - Communities United for Status & Protection (CUSP)
Washington D.C. - Just Futures Law
Washington D.C. - National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC)
Arkansas - Pax Christi Little Rock
California - Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus
California - Bend the Arc
California - Buen Vecino
California - California Coalition for Women Prisoners
California - Haitian Bridge Alliance
California - The San Francisco Public Defender's Office
California - NorCal Resist
Connecticut - Black and Brown United in Action
Connecticut - Connecticut Shoreline Indivisible
Colorado - Lamar Unidos
Colorado - Perla
Colorado- Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network
Florida - Pax Christi Florida
Georgia - El Refugio
Louisiana - Louisiana Organization for Refugees and Immigrants (LORI)
Maryland - Benedictine Sisters of Baltimore
Maryland - Doctors for Camp Closure
Minnesota - Interfaith Coalition on Immigration
Missouri - Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America
New Jersey - ACLU of NJ
New Jersey - American Friends Service Committee
New Jersey - Bend the Arc Jewish Action: South Jersey
New Jersey - Cosecha NJ
New Jersey - New Jersey Chapter of the Council on American - Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ)
New Jersey - DIRE Legal
New Jersey - Emmaus Community
New Jersey - First Friends of New Jersey & New York
New Jersey - North New Jersey Democratic Socialists of America
New Jersey - Office of Peace, Justice, & Ecological Integrity at Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth
New Jersey - Occupy Bergen County
New Jersey - Parishioners for Peace & Justice
New Jersey - Party for Socialism and Liberation - New Jersey
New Jersey - Pax Christi New Jersey
New Jersey - Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth Leadership Team
New Jersey - St. Peter the Apostle Roman Catholic Parish
New Jersey - Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Legal Resource Center
New Mexico - NM Dream Team
New Mexico - New Mexico Immigrant Law Center
New York - Abolish ICE NY NJ
New York - The Bronx Defenders
New York - Center for Constitutional Rights
New York - Envision Freedom Funds
New York - Families for Freedom
New York - The Mami Chelo Foundation, INC
New York - New York Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (NY CISPES)
New York - Pax Christi New York State
New York - Queer Detainee Empowerment Project
New York - Showing Up for Racial Justice, NYC Chapter
New York - TakeRoot Justice
North Carolina - Carolina Migrant Network
Ohio - Cleveland Jobs with Justice
Oregon - Innovation Law Lab
Pennsylvania - Association of Pittsburgh Priests
Pennsylvania - Pittsburgh Area Pax Christi
Pennsylvania - Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill Philadelphia
Rhode Island - Showing Up for Racial Justice
Tennessee - Pax Christi Memphis
Texas - Border Network for Human Rights
Texas - Voces Unidas RGV