Editor’s note: This article was submitted by Wind of the Spirit, and the opinions represented do not necessarily reflect those of this publication.
Diana Mejia, cofounder of Wind of the Spirit and Ilana Rossoff, civic participation coordinator, were arrested Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, at the Elizabeth Detention Center as they attempted to prevent a van carrying undocumented immigrants headed for deportation.
The action was part of the national Not One More Deportation campaign.
Mejia and Rossoff were among the eight peaceful activists who lay down across Evans Street who locked themselves to each other with PVC tubing, blocking the entire width of the road for an hour during the heavy morning snow.
On Wednesday, Dec. 11, the eight activists appeared before the Elizabeth municipal court judge to plead not guilty to the charges of obstruction of municipal area, disorderly conduct, and failure to disperse.
The next hearing will be in late January, when the eight activists are hoping the charges will be dismissed.
Tuesday morning’s action coordinated by Wind of the Spirit, Unidad Latina en Acción New Jersey, Casa Freehold, Action 21 and other organizations started at 7 a.m. The eight activiists were charged and released around 1:30 by the Elizabeth Police Department.
Diana Mejia of Wind of the Spirit said the day, December 10, 2013, marked the 65th anniversary of International Human Rights Day.
“While the rest of the world celebrates the declaration of human rights, we took action putting our bodies on the line to actually make sure the human rights of immigrants were protected,” said Mejia who cofounded the Morristown-based immigrant rights group in 2000.
“This action was in solidarity with the 2 million people and families that have been torn apart under the Obama administration alone as a result of our aggressive and inhumane detention and deportation policies, said Rossoff. “This action needed to happen because New Jersey and the rest of the country need a shocking reminder of how devastating these policies really are.”
Over 400,000 people have been deported in the last year, adding to the close to 2 million under President Obama. On any given day there are 32,000 immigrants in detention facilities, like Elizabeth, around the country, according to human rights activists.