Protesters block jail to stop deportation

Fourteen people were arrested for allegedly blocking the entrance to the Bergen County Jail, as activist group members laid their bodies on the line in the demand for Marvin Jerezano Peña to be released.

Peña is a father, son, and resident of Red Bank, at imminent risk for deportation after being targeted and entrapped by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), ‘in collusion with the New Jersey court system,’ according to Jay Arena, an immigrant rights activist.

"He was granted a 14 day stay last night as per Secretary Mayorkas’s office but we will continue to put pressure for his release and an end to all deportations in New Jersey," said Arena. "Mr. Peña was taken away from his 2 year old son, 18 months ago, and has been held in ICE detention since December 2019."

"A former DACA recipient, Mr. Peña immigrated to the US from Mexico as a child, and was captured by ICE, as an adult, as he left the court, after an appearance in which he was dismissed from probation," said Arena. "Originally charged for possession of cannabis, now legal in the state of New Jersey, his arrest is another example of how the War on Drugs disproportionately targets Black, Brown, Indigenous, and working class folks fleeing the violence of US imperialism in their home countries."

"Once the judge dismissed him, he was grabbed by ICE outside the court," said Arena. "This is consistent with patterns of collusion between the New Jersey court systems and ICE, even after many facilities in the state made superficial announcements that they would be phasing out collaboration with ICE."
"Earlier this year, he was wrongfully punished and put in the disciplinary unit because a guard had not followed proper search protocols," said Arena. "This abuse at the hands of the guards is nothing new at Bergen County Jail, which is notorious for the inhumane living conditions and for the month-long hunger strike of November 2020."

Peña’s mother, Nohemi Peña is also suffering from the deportation of her husband a month ago.

"We cannot allow ICE to take her son," said Arena.

“Last month they deported my husband. Tomorrow they will deport my son. Right now I only have my daughter Yaritza and my nephew Dominic, who have also suffered from family separation. My daughter asks for her father and her siblings every day. I no longer know what to respond with. Immigration judges and ICE don’t care about our pain, they profit from our suffering. This stops now. I am going to continue fighting until my son Marvin returns with us. I can’t lose another piece of my heart, ” said Nohemi Peña.

"Marvin Jerezano Peña is not a priority for deportation, he is not a threat to the community, and he is not a flight risk," said Arena. "Peña deserves to live a free life with his family. He is his son and sister’s sole provider, he financially supports his mother with bills and must be released immediately. He cannot be deported, as this will plunge his family into further hardship. We demand Marvin’s freedom and the freedom of all other folks detained by ICE at Bergen, Essex, and Hudson facilities. The countdown has begun and ICE must free him immediately so he can be reunited with his two year old son, Dominic. Bergen County Jail must also immediately free the fourteen people arrested."

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