After decades of abuse and egregious conditions within immigration detention facilities in New Jersey, the Legislature adopted AB 5207 to prohibit new, renewed, or expanded immigration detention contracts within the state. The statute, enacted in 2021, recognized the significant health and safety risks that immigration detention poses for people in custody and for the communities surrounding immigration detention centers. These risks became especially apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic, when case numbers escalated more rapidly within immigration detention compared to other congregate facilities and the general public, and facilities proved themselves incapable of limiting the spread of COVID-19 or providing adequate medical care.

Private prison corporation CoreCivic, Inc. – which operates the last remaining immigration detention facility in New Jersey, the Elizabeth Detention Center – challenged AB 5207 on the grounds that the statute violated the Supremacy Clause. The District Court invalidated the statute, holding in part that it was preempted by the Immigration and Nationality Act, and the state appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

With cooperating counsel Gibbons P.C., the ACLU of New Jersey filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of 28 community organizations in support of the state’s position that AB 5207 is a lawful and reasoned response to the serious harms caused by immigration detention in New Jersey. The brief argues that a state law prohibiting detention contracts within state borders falls within the state’s traditional powers to regulate health and safety.

The community organizations, which are listed below, represent or advocate on behalf of a wide range of New Jersey communities, including of immigrants, religious communities, law enforcement professionals, people with disabilities, parents, youth, workers, people living in poverty, individuals identifying as LGBTQ+, and people who are currently or formerly detained. As a result of representing, providing services to, or seeking policy change on behalf of immigrants and others across New Jersey, these organizations have special expertise and understanding of how immigration detention has long threated the well-being of New Jersey’s immigrant communities:

  • AAPI New Jersey
  • American Friends Service Committee
  • Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice
  • Bend the Arc: Jewish Action
  • Deportation & Immigration Response Equipo
  • Detention Watch Network
  • El Pueblo Unido of Atlantic City y Pueblos Cercanos
  • Faith in New Jersey
  • First Friends of New Jersey and New York
  • Latina Civic Action
  • Latino Action Network
  • Latino Coalition of New Jersey
  • LatinoJustice PRLDEF
  • Law Enforcement Action Partnership
  • Lazos América Unida
  • Make the Road New Jersey
  • New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice
  • New Jersey Consortium for Immigrant Children
  • New Jersey Parents’ Caucus
  • New Jersey Policy Perspective
  • New Labor
  • Northern New Jersey Sanctuary Coalition
  • Reformed Church of Highland Park
  • T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
  • Unitarian Universalist FaithAction of New Jersey
  • Volunteer Lawyers for Justice
  • Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center

Attorney(s)

Gibbons P.C.

Date filed

January 10, 2024

Court

Third Circuit Court of Appeals

Status

Open