The American Civil Liberties Union announced Wednesday that it is suing the Biden administration to block the transfer of dozens of immigrants held at a New Jersey facility.
The suit, filed in federal court in Newark, is centered around the Essex County Correctional Facility, which is ending its contract with US immigration officials to hold the detainees.
The facility is expected to transfer about 100 immigrants it houses to “remote spots” in the Deep South, the ACLU said.
It is the first immigration lawsuit filed against the Biden administration, the ACLU said.
“We sued the Trump administration over 400 times, and the Biden administration is trying to resolve many of those suits,” ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said in a statement.
“Today’s suit is a challenge to a decision made by the Biden administration — it’s not a Trump hold-over,” the statement said. “True to form, we will sue any administration — Democrat or Republican — and hold them accountable when they take positions that violate civil liberties and civil rights.”
The suit, filed by national and state ACLU chapters, is being brought in conjunction with the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild on behalf of the immigrants being detained at the Essex County facility.
According to the ACLU, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials typically transfer detained immigrants to remote areas in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and other rural areas hundreds of miles from relatives, support groups and their lawyers.
Such a move could also lead to the detainees having their cases reviewed “in jurisdictions with much less favorable case law.”
“Transferring hundreds of people far away from their families and attorneys violates the rights and dignity of New Jerseyans, and we’re calling on the courts to stop this policy of gratuitous cruelty,” ACLU New Jersey executive director Amol Sinha said.