Co-founder of Monmouth County Coalition for Immigrant Rights and a member of CIVIC, Karina Wilkinson, writes about the impact of Hurricane Sandy on immigrants detained throughout New Jersey and New York.
To contact Karina, email her at Kwilkinson_act@yahoo.com.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy detention facilities need to improve communication.
November 4 – A week after Hurricane Sandy devastated the New Jersey Coast, it is unclear when visiting hours will resume for the approximately 250 immigrants detained in Monmouth County jail. All four regularly scheduled visiting days last week were cancelled. The difficulty for New York families reaching their loved ones in New Jersey has only been aggravated by the flooding of tunnels, blocked roads, power outages, the suspension of train and bus service and the fuel shortage throughout the region. If visiting doesn’t resume on Wednesday or Thursday, then detained immigrants will be almost two weeks without any visiting at a difficult time for New Yorkers.
The County needs to do a better job of getting information to visitors and the public about cancellations and the resumption of visiting hours. The County and Sheriff’s office could update their websites to provide the most current information just like other localities’ websites have done regarding necessary public information. It would also be a good time to consider lower phone rates for detained immigrants, rates that can be as high as $10 for 10 minutes to New York.
The disruption of visiting as we start a renewed visiting program in Monmouth County means that detained immigrants who haven’t been visited at all before the program started are now again without visits. Men and women in immigration detention rely on visitors for moral support, as well as help communicating with loved ones and accessing necessary information and services.
Finally, Sandy’s impact highlights the injustice of detaining people far from their communities. To begin with, New Yorkers who are held in immigration detention facilities in New Jersey are isolated from their relatives, friends, and attorneys. This isolation has only been intensified in the aftermath of the storm. Monmouth County Coalition for Immigrant Rights renews its call to end the unnecessary detention of immigrant men and women.
For more information or to become a visitor volunteer in Monmouth County, New Jersey, email Karina at Kwilkinson_act@yahoo.com