Sires: ‘I’m all for it’ if county gets out of ICE deal, but I’d hope there’s a plan for the detainees

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U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8) said today that “I’m all for it” if Hudson County gets out of their contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), but also noted that he’d hope there’s a plan in place for the detainees before that.


By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“If Hudson County decides to get out of the ICE contract, that’s a decision that the county has to make. The only thing I worry about is the families of people who are in the center … Sometimes they send those people to Texas and then they don’t have the money to see their family members in Texas,” Sires during a question and answer session with the media at an unrelated press conference this afternoon.

“So if the county decides it, I’m all for it.”

While the Hudson County Board of Commissioners voted to renew their agreement with ICE for up a decade back at a marathon meeting in November with staunch public opposition, an unexpected twist last week has changed things.

On Wednesday, Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo said that they would be phasing out their ICE deal by August after coming to terms to house inmates from Union County, whose correctional facility will be mostly shutting down by the summer.

The following day, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise said they were “determined” to follow suit, a sentiment that was echoed by Board of Commissioners Chair Anthony Vainieri (D-8).

Advocates weighed in at the meeting, calling on Hudson not to make up their lost revenue through more incarceration.

During the same session, County Commissioner Bill O’Dea (D-2) said that the county’s correctional facility in Kearny was housing just 49 detainees, which only comes out to about $2 million a year in revenue.

In a statement issued today, DeGise said that the COVID-19 pandemic significantly slowed efforts to work with U.S. Marshals, state inmates in the final phase of their sentences, and adding inmates from other county facilities.

Hudson had previously tried to enter an agreement with Mercer County, though that has been tied up in litigation with a hearing currently scheduled for December. DeGise continued that solution will take effort from the local, state, and federal level.

“The political ground has clearly shifted in Washington and Trenton. All we ask is that our administration, those on our Board of Commissioners and the vast majority our residents who want a responsible solution receive not just words to solve what is truly a systemic issue, but concrete support from Washington and Trenton to help us do so as we anticipated before the pandemic struck,” DeGise said.

” … The remaining open issues, including that detainees will have access to services like local legal counsel wherever they go, and assurances from our state and federal partners that Hudson County taxpayers are not negatively impacted must be addressed. I urge patience as we continue the path to exit in a responsible manner.”

 

News correspondent Daniel Ulloa contributed to this report.

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