DeGise vows to keep county ICE program, unless Trump pushes for changes

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Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise said despite some expected criticism, the county will continue their jail program with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), unless the President Donald Trump administration pushes for drastic changes.

“The one thing that I did say in the State of the County speech is that we’re gonna live to the terms we agreed to, those were developed by the [President Barack] Obama administration. They were meant to keep serious people off of the streets,” DeGise told Hudson County View.

“The people that were affected by our involvement with 287(g) one was a child molester, there was a human trafficker, there was assault on a police officer, there were weapons offenses here. Why anybody would want to change that policy and allow these people to go back into the communities they terrorize, I don’t really know.”

DeGise 15th State of the County speech last week focused largely around the 287(g) program, stating that the rules of the agreement only apply to a small number of individuals that could be picked up on an ICE detainer.

During his address, the county executive said 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.

However, DeGise explained that if the Trump administration changed the parameters of the program, it would be time to cancel the county’s agreement with ICE.

“But, if the Trump administration insists that our participation in 287 go further then what we’ve agreed to, then it’ll be time to get out,” he stated.

“As long as we are allowed to continue on the terms that were developed last year, last summer when we negotiated this with a lot of meeting, I’m gonna stick with it ’cause I think – we complain about crime a lot in the streets and you know how unsafe some of our neighborhoods are – sometimes you gotta give law enforcement the tools they need in order to get the bad guys out of here.”

DeGise further stated that under the current deal, three corrections officers at the Hudson County jail in Kearny have the ability to flag inmates with felonies and bring that to the attention of ICE.

In a letter to the editor published on Tuesday, an activist questioned whether or not 287(g) was still operating under the standards of the Obama administration and how small the scope of the program actually is.