Hudson County freeholders expected to vote on ICE contract renewal tomorrow

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The Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders are expected to vote on the potential renewal of their contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at tomorrow’s meeting, pending the outcome of today’s caucus.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Today’s caucus meeting is set for 4 p.m., while tomorrow’s regular session is set for 1 p.m. Both sessions can be attended via Zoom (here and here).

The agenda item calls for “ratifying the authorization of an Intergovernmental Services Agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the housing of federal prisoners and/or detainees at the Hudson County Correctional Center.”

As long as it stays on the agenda following this afternoon’s session, their vote will come 12 days after a five-hour meeting where the majority of the meeting was spent hearing from anti-ICE activists who adamantly opposed another contract extension.

“The Board hereby authorizes the County Executive, Thomas A. DeGise … or their lawfully appointed designee, to execute any and all documents and take any and all actions necessary to complete and realize the intent and purpose of this Resolution,” the measure says.

The item is still on the agenda heading into Tuesday.

Freeholder Bill O’Dea (D-2) made a motion to move the resolution to their December 10th meeting, but it did not receive a second from any of his eight colleagues.

Furthermore, O’Dea and Al Cifelli (D-9) both intimated during the end of the 25-minute caucus that they would consider supporting and/or introducing a motion to carry the resolution until a date to be determined – whether their next session or a special meeting.

The agreement, which earns the county $120 per detainee, per day and has been on the books in some form since 1996, was not on that meeting’s agenda.

While tomorrow’s meeting starts early, it would be wise not to make dinner plans since groups such as Solidarity Jersey City and the Hudson County Progressive Alliance have been mobilizing their members over the weekend to ensure their voices are heard again.

In late 2018, County Executive Tom DeGise said he planned to “phase out” the ICE deal by the end of 2020, though he told HCV just prior to the presidential election that he’d be open to negotiating with a Joe Biden administration.

To date, four freeholders have publicly expressed their feelings on the contract.

O’Dea and Joel Torres have said they will vote no, as they did in 2018, with O’Dea emphasizing that the contract is no longer as lucrative as it once was, likely only bringing in around $3 to $3.5 million with 79 detainees at the correctional facility.

And although Anthony Romano and Anthony Vainieri, the board chair, haven’t outright said they would support renewing the contract, both have expressed the current agreement is probably the best option to keep detainees close to their families and legal counsel.

 

Editor’s note: This story was updated with new information following the freeholders’ 4 p.m. caucus meeting.