U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (D-NJ) are calling for an end to county deals with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) due to the agency’s “inhumane, xenophobic policies designed to terrorize and rip apart immigrant families.”
“No governmental entity in New Jersey should be accepting money from ICE to detain individuals, particularly when the agency continues to pursue inhumane, xenophobic policies designed to terrorize and rip apart immigrant families; it has to stop,” Menendez said in a statement.
“As a former [Union City] mayor, I understand the tremendous local fiscal and other challenges caused by the pandemic, but I do not believe taking blood money from ICE, to turn our jails into waystations for deportations for nonviolent, non-criminal immigration detainees, is consistent with our values nor is it in the best interests of our communities.”
On November 24th, the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders voted 6-3 to approve a new deal with ICE, which has been on the books in some form since 1996, and run all the way through 2030, despite over nine hours of public comment against the concept.
The agreement allows the county to earn $120 per detainee, per day.
Booker echoed a sentiment very similar to Menendez.
“No private or government entity should be contracting with ICE. These arrangements too often incentivize locking up people who pose no risk to the public, and perpetuate dangerous and dehumanizing immigration enforcement tactics,” he began.
“I have long fought to align our immigration policies with our nation’s core values, including introducing legislation that would end ICE detention contracts and ensure detained immigrants are treated fairly and with dignity.”
In 2018, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise said he planned to “phase out” the deal with ICE by the end of 2020, but softened on that stance during a November interview with HCV where he said “we’ll have somebody to talk to” in President Joe Biden’s administration (the interview took place before the general election).
However, Menendez says now is the time for major immigration changes with Biden currently poised to take over the White House in January.
“With the incoming Biden Administration, there is an opportunity for sweeping reforms at ICE to dramatically reduce the number of people in detention and return to its core national security mission, which has been corruptly transformed under President Trump into a deportation force. This has been my long-time fight,” Menendez continued.
” … The Trump Administration should do the humane thing and release undocumented immigrants from detention who pose no public safety threat to our community; the objective must be to save lives.”