Immigrants who lawfully live in New Jersey may still face temporary detention when they leave the United States and return to resume their lives here. An August 2023 ruling paves the way for the state to extend a contract with CoreCivic, a group of private prisons that detains immigrants while having their legal status checked.
Will New Jersey extend immigration detention?
An agreement with CoreCivic and the state was set to expire on August 31. A 2021 law signed by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy prohibited private and public companies from entering, renewing, or extending contracts with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain immigrants. That law had been under litigation for several months. However, the August 2023 ruling sided with CoreCivic, saying that not having a place to detain immigrants would throw the immigration system into chaos. CoreCivic, which runs dozens of private detention centers nationwide, argued that the law undermined the federal government’s authority.
Essentially, this ruling means that immigrants will continue to face detention when they re-enter the United States in specific circumstances at CoreCivic detention facility in the Elizabeth prison, the last such facility in the state. After the governor signed the law in 2021, three other facilities in Essex, Hudson, and Bergen stopped detaining immigrants. However, the Elizabeth facility quietly agreed to an extension between the time the law passed and the governor’s signing.
Steps to take if you are detained
First off, if you return to your home country for a visit, make sure you have legal status. Immigration law regarding obtaining legal status is complex. Having all your paperwork in order is vital. Nevertheless, you may still suffer detention from ICE officials. If you have an illegal status, you can spend much more time in a detention center.
You can often ask for a bond for release from the detention center. Remember that you do not have to answer questions about your immigration status if Ice detains you. Remain calm when interacting with immigration officials. Do not lie or otherwise give them other reasons for a possible arrest.