The purpose of the Northern New Jersey Sanctuary Coalition is to serve as support for people who have applied for political or cultural asylum and been released from federal detention, and for selected other asylum seekers.

Among the services the Coalition provides are housing, access to medical care, financial support, educational opportunities including language instruction, transportation, social events, liaison with attorneys, and help with job searches and dealing with bureaucratic offices.

The goal is to help the asylum seekers/asylees establish themselves and achieve durable self-sufficiency, with care and support greatest in the beginning and less as they become increasingly independent and able to support themselves.


Since 1996, the policy of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service) has been to detain these individuals in federal detention centers pending the adjudication of their asylum claims. Asylum seekers are detained in grim surroundings for periods, some in excess of four years, though they have committed no crimes. Recent surveys have shown that the New Jersey jurisdiction is the harshest in the country, with fewer than 3.8% of all detainees released prior to their hearing.

The Coalition has helped asylum seekers from the former French Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, the Darfur region of Sudan, Syria, and more recently from Eritrea, Ethiopia,Yemen, India, Togo, Uganda, Palestine,  Chad, Nicaragua, and Cuba.

Organizations which are affiliated with and support the Northern New Jersey Sanctuary Coalition include the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County (Teaneck), St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (Teaneck), Central Unitarian Church (Paramus), Unitarian Society of Ridgewood (Ridgewood), Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Palisades (Englewood), Temple Emeth (Teaneck), Congregation Agudath Israel (Caldwell), First Friends of NJ and NY (Kearny), Islamic Community Services Group,  St. Peter The Apostle Parish Church (River Edge), and Darul Islah Mosque (Teaneck).  Other individuals and organizations which have helped our clients from time to time include: Lowenstein Sandler pro bono lawyers, Human Rights First, the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, the Bergen County Volunteer Medical Initiative (BVMI). Women Helping Women, and Dr. Mark Kantrowitz, DMD.  The Northern NJ Sanctuary Coalition welcomes support from individuals and organizations that share our purposes.

We are also very thankful for those individuals who open their homes to our clients, as they constitute the backbone of the help we are able to provide, without whom we wouldn’t have a program.

Elizabeth D. Ames, MD, Outgoing President  01/10/20

The Northern New Jersey Sanctuary Coalition is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation

 Northern New Jersey Sanctuary Coalition  –  P.O. Box 5017, Caldwell, NJ 07006