Newark’s Intense Legal Fight Against Immigrant Center

Newark's Intense Legal Fight Against Immigrant Center

A Florida company, The GEO Group, has filed a lawsuit against New Jersey to challenge the state’s ban on new immigrant detention centers, arguing that the ban violates the Constitution. The lawsuit targets the state’s law that prevents the opening of Delaney Hall, a 1,196-bed facility intended for federal detainees, jeopardizing a lucrative contract with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement worth over $100 million.

The company’s legal team contends that the state law contradicts federal immigration laws under the Constitution’s supremacy clause, impeding the enforcement of congressionally approved immigration regulations within New Jersey. By obstructing federal immigration law, the state statute allegedly hampers the intent behind national immigration policies and ventures into a domain where Congress has established its authority.

The lawsuit, filed against Governor Phil Murphy and Attorney General Matthew Platkin, raises significant constitutional questions. While Murphy’s office remained silent on the matter, both ICE and the attorney general’s representatives opted not to comment.

New Jersey has a contentious history with immigrant detention facilities, profiting from detaining individuals before the ban was enacted in August 2021. The ban drew criticism from advocates who accused the state of capitalizing on detaining immigrants while denouncing conservative immigration measures.

A federal judge previously deemed parts of the law unconstitutional in a case involving another private company, CoreCivic. The same judge, Robert Kirsch, will preside over GEO’s lawsuit, seeking similar relief.

GEO, which currently manages over 20 facilities housing around 19,000 beds for ICE, faces allegations of abuse. Reports of maltreatment, neglect, and poor living conditions have sparked protests and demands for accountability.

In response to allegations, GEO has denied any wrongdoing, emphasizing the provision of medical, legal, and dietary services to detainees. The company pledges to uphold human rights and ethical practices in its services.

Newark’s Delaney Hall, already owned by GEO, has been proposed as a site for immigrant detention services. The facility, previously hosting immigration detainees from various states, underwent upgrades to meet federal standards.

The legal feud underscores the ongoing debate over the treatment of immigrants and the role of private companies in immigration enforcement. As the legal battle unfolds, the future of Delaney Hall and the contentious issue of immigrant detention in New Jersey remain at the forefront of national discourse.


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