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U.S. Senators Bob Menendez, center, and Cory Booker, right, with Rep. Albio Sires in 2018.

Vainieri hits U.S. Senators over ICE contract statements

Hudson freeholder chairman says senators attempting to dodge criticism from activists

By Nikita Biryukov, December 04 2020 3:48 pm

Hudson County Freeholder Chairman Anthony Vainieri attacked U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez (D-North Bergen) and Cory Booker (D-Newark) and over criticisms of the county’s recent renewal of a contract to house Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees at facilities in Hudson.

“The Senators have had a long time to constructively engage and work with us and failed to do so, and their statements are nothing but an attempt to shield themselves from criticism from activists who do not speak for the majority of Hudson County residents,” Vainieri said. “Even more disturbingly, Senator Booker just ran for reelection on the same ticket as the entire Hudson County Freeholder Board — if he felt this way about this issue, why did he wait until after the election to talk about it?”

The two senators criticized the county’s contract, which Hudson millions of dollars each year, late Thursday night.

Menendez said the money wasn’t worth the human cost.

“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,” he said.

Booker said the contract perpetuated “dehumanizing immigration enforcement tactics.”

Vainieri said the two should have made their concerns known before the county renewed its contract for up to 10 years last month.

“Senator Menendez and Senator Booker have had two years to work with Hudson County leaders on finding a path forward regarding the ICE contract that would be fair to both county taxpayers and the detainees themselves, and it’s infuriating after all of this time and after the vote has already been taken to parachute in now and try to tell Hudson County government how it should operate,” he said.

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