Both of New Jersey’s U.S. senators on Friday came out in opposition to Hudson County’s contract to hold Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees in its facilities.
“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,” U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-North Bergen) said of the recently renewed contract.
The county renewed their contract with ICE last month in a 6-3 vote that followed staunch opposition at an hours-long freeholder meeting.
The contract’s many opponents said the practice was a cruel one and urged freeholders to abandon the ICE contract, while the lawmakers who backed the measure said it was needed to prop up the county’s finances.
The contract pays Hudson $120 for each day an ICE detainee is held in a county facility. It brought in more than $27 million for the county in 2018, though the level of detainees has fallen since then, and the contract is expected to bring in far less for the county this year.
“No private or government entity should be contracting with ICE,” U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-Newark) said. “These arrangements too often incentivize locking up people who pose no risk to the public, and perpetuate dangerous and dehumanizing immigration enforcement tactics.”
The issue is particularly pressing for residents in Hudson given the large number of Hispanic and Latino voters there. For instance, 77% of Union City’s residents identify as Hispanic or Latino, according to census figures.
“As a former 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,” Menendez said.