Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise said a program with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been safe and effective, also revealing that a public safety academy is coming to Secaucus, in his 15th annual State of the County address.
“In July, we re-authorized our Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to participate in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Priority Enforcement Program, often referred to by its place in federal code, 287(g),” DeGise said during a succinct 15-minute speech.
At the, the ACLU blasted the decision for the county to renew the program, calling it “baffling” and disconcerting.”
DeGise acknowledged that similar criticism may be forthcoming, particularly given the controversy surrounding President Donald Trump’s currently lifted immigration order, but said the statistics clearly support the move.
“There may be calls in the days ahead by activists for us to withdraw from that agreement. I do not believe we should … What swayed us to continue the program was the limited nature of how 287(g) operates.”
“These rules narrow the category of individuals who may be flagged for an ICE detainer to only those who pose a meaningful threat to public safety. Statistics show that the guidelines for the 287(g) program, set by the Obama administration, limit its reach to a tiny number of very dangerous individuals.”
DeGise further stated that these individuals are typically felons convicted of murder, sexual assault against children and human trafficking – among other serious criminal offenses.
Additionally, a 15-month study concluded on June 29, 2016 found that 599 foreign born inmates were held at the jail and less than two percent were flagged.
On the subject of the new public safety academy, the county exec explained that the plan is for the facility to be built at 635 County Ave. – the site of the former juvenile detention center.
Hudson County Community College will also be acting as a partner in the initiative, providing academic support and classroom space. To get off the ground, the project needs approval from the state.
The “steering committee” overseeing the initiative includes Freeholders Anthony Vainieri (D-5) and Anthony Romano (D-8), former jail director turned County Administrative Assistant Oscar Aviles, Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli, North Bergen Police Chief Bob Dowd adn North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue’s Mike D’Orio.
Immediately after his address concluded, DeGise signed an executive order authorizing the steering community to take four months to establish the scope of the project.
The county hopes to have the new public safety academy up and running by 2018.