Activists protest Hudson County jail after immigrant detainee’s death


Around 50 activists protested across the street from the Hudson County jail this evening, calling for the county government to cancel their controversial 287g agreement with U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) after the death of Rolando Meza Espinoza.


“No excuses for human rights abuses!” and “What do we want: justice! And when do we want it: Now!,” were just a few of the chants heard across the street from the Hudson County jail in Kearny tonight, recently renamed the Hudson County Corrections & Rehabilitation Center.

Signs ranging from “Justice for Rolando” to “America’s Got Room Immigrants Welcome” set the tone before a roughly 30-minute program.

On Tuesday, March 28th, Meza, 35, a Honduran native, got into a carpool with his construction colleagues to head to a job site in Redwood, Long Island in what seemed like just another routine day, according to his attorney Manuel Portela.

“When he arrived to his construction job site at about 8:30 in the morning, Immigration Customs Enforcement agents were waiting, in a van, in a parking lot, nearby,” continued Portela, a founding partner of the New York City-based Portela Law Firm, P.C.

He continued on by stating that ICE agents were looking for a Rolando Meza that received a 2005 order of deportation and was taller, with a darker complexion than Portela’s client, the attorney alleged.

After being processed and finger printed in Manhattan, Meza was then transported to the Kearny jail the following day: March 29th.

Despite trying to get Meza released from custody, ICE did not comply and Meza was eventually taken to the Jersey City Medical Center ICU on June 8th.

On June 12th, seeking an update on his bond hearing, Portela was allegedly informed that Meza died from medical complications two days earlier, specifically due to internal bleeding and hemorrhagic shock.

Given the recent incident, the 10th ICE detainee to die while in custody this year, Dina Mansour, the outreach coordinator for the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, called for specific actions from the county in reactions to Meza’s death.

“We’re here today to demand justice for Rolando, but in addition to that, we’re hear to call on Hudson County to end their relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” Mansour stated.

“We’re also hear today to ask for an independent oversight committee to oversee conditions and the things that are going on in the jail today. And we also demand a review of the contract of the medical service provider.

An ICE spokesman told the New York Post that Meza was in the country illegally and was arrested as “as part of everyday, targeted enforcement operations.”

Other activist groups with representatives in attendance included the American Friends Service Committee, the Bronx Defenders, Faith in NJ, the First Friends of NY/NJ, the Legal Aid Society and Make the Road NJ.

A county spokesman could not be reached late Monday evening.

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