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ICE Hunger Strike Continues at Another New Jersey Jail

11 immigrant detainees have refused meals since last Thursday and demand to be released to avoid catching COVID-19.

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Immigrant detainees have embarked on a hunger strike at Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark, New Jersey. According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 11 detainees have refused meals since last Thursday and demanded to be released immediately. The detainees are worried about catching COVID-19 while at the jail and insist they will go to their immigration hearings if they can return home. A detainee at Essex told Gothamist/WNYC that the hunger strikers were reloaded to a unit that is typically used for COVID-19 quarantine. But a ICE spokesman said the detainees were not living with potential COVID-19 patients and were moved to be under medical observation. Gothamist

In other local immigration news…

Chinese Students Caught Up In Geopolitics and Trump’s Immigration Crackdown

📍 Documented OriginalEven though President-elect Joe Biden’s win created hope that Sino-U.S. relations will remain stable, some Chinese students at American schools who will return to complete their studies when campuses reopen don’t plan on staying in the U.S. after they’re done. In the 2019-20 school year, China was still the biggest source country of international students in the U.S., with over 370,000 Chinese students. Meanwhile, the number of international students in higher education dropped by 16 percent and new enrollments decreased by 43 percent for the 2020-21 school year. According to statistics from the Department of State, from June to August, only 516 visas were given to students in China instead of the 64,027 they handed out last year. Read more at Documented

Rent Relief Extended for New York Tenants and Immigrants

📍 Documented Original Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) issued an executive order last month expanding COVID-19 relief laws to allow more people to qualify for the state’s relief funds. The Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the agency distributing the funds, also announced it will allow more people to apply for the relief until Feb. 1. While the relief is now open to people with an undocumented person in their household, undocumented tenants who do not live with an individual with legal status still do not qualify. Advocates believe this hurts some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers who already will also not receive other forms of aid. Close to 200,000 undocumented workers in the city have lost their incomes during the pandemic. Read more at Documented

Bergen Lawmaker’s Bill Will Block New Immigrant Detention Contracts

New Jersey Assemblymember Gordon Johnson introduced a bill to block the state and counties from contracting with federal officials to hold immigrant detainees. Still, this proposal will allow the Bergen, Essex and Hudson County jails to continue their deals with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The proposal came after recent weeks of tense protests outside of Bergen jail and amid still-ongoing hunger strikes. Immigrants and advocates have been fighting for years against these contracts. The number of detainees at the three jails peaked at 1,800 between 2018 and 2019, but has lessened during the pandemic. As of last week, there were about 200 detainees in Bergen, 230 in Essex and 100 in Hudson. North Jersey

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