For Immediate Release-
November 25, 2020
Madelyn Hoffman, Communications Chair, Green Party of New Jersey 973-876-1023 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Freeholders’ vote fails to uphold their commitment from 2018 to phase out the contract with ICE by 2020.
NEW JERSEY — Despite unrelenting opposition from former detainees, directly impacted individuals, immigration attorneys, elected officials, faith leaders, medical doctors and community advocates, Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders decided to renew the county’s contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a 6-3 vote, late Tuesday night. Public testimony, all of which were in opposition, lasted over 9 hours in what ended as a 12 hour meeting, making it the longest government meeting in New Jersey history. According to the renewed contract, ICE is able to detain immigrants at the Hudson County Correctional Facility for the next ten years.
Hudson County freeholders scheduled the meeting for 1:00 PM on a Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and capped the public comment at 5:30 PM, making it deeply difficult for working community members to voice their opposition. As a result of the freeholders efforts to kneecap public comment, one individual who planned to read a survey and testimony calling to end the contract from people currently detained at Hudson County was never called on. The freeholders did not get to listen to this testimony before casting their vote to extend the contract.
“Today the Hudson County freeholders not only went back on their word, but also rejected the will of communities in New York and New Jersey and their allies. Every single public comment issued during the public comment portion was in opposition to the contract,” said Tania Mattos, Northeast Monitoring Manager and Policy Monitor at Freedom for Immigrants, a member of the Abolish ICE NJ-NY Coalition. “By renewing the contract, Hudson County is inviting ICE to make more arrests to fill empty beds during a global pandemic. This vote only motivates us to work harder. Our communities will not stop fighting for a world that emphasizes dignity over detention.”
Over the last 24 years, thousands of immigrants have lost their freedom — and some have even lost their lives — due to this contract, which Hudson County has egregiously and immorally defended for years, based on its desire to profit from incarcerating community members from New York and New Jersey for $120/day per person.
“In my opinion, these jails shouldn’t exist. They are torture centers, similar to hell,” said Edwin, a member of Queer Detainee Empowerment Project who was previously detained at the Hudson County Correctional Center, and testified before the freeholders Tuesday. “I want these contracts with ICE to end. People can die inside, and even when they get out. What you go through in there will leave you damaged for life.”
“Following a historic national election that served as a referendum against racism, hate, and family separation, Hudson County’s Democratic Board of Chosen Freeholders voted to deny justice and safety for immigrant communities by extending their ICE contract for 10 years, the maximum period of time allowed by law,” said Amy Torres, a member of Hudson County Progressive Alliance. “These Democratic lawmakers, who preside over one of the most diverse counties in the nation, proved that no amount of moral imperative, public participation, or sound reasoning can overcome the control wielded by the current political apparatus. Hudson County Progressive Alliance is proud to work alongside our allies to fight for an open convention that forces accountability from our elected officials and brings all of our residents, regardless of status, closer to a more direct democracy.”
On November 17, 60+ immigrant rights organizations signed on to a statement drafted by the Abolish ICE NY-NJ coalition demanding that Hudson County not renew its contract with ICE. The coalition efforts to end the ICE contract were joined by public calls urging no contract renewal, including letters from New York State Senators Jessica Ramos, Gustavo Rivera, and Julia Salazar, New York State Assembly Member Ron Kim, New York City Council Members Carlos Menchaca, Carlina Rivera, Brad Lander, Helen Rosenthal, Ydanis Rodriguez, Antonio Reynoso, Margaret Chin, and Inez Barron, Jersey City Council Members James Solomon, Joyce Watterman, Rolando Lavarro, Yousef Saleh, and Mira Prinz-Arey, ACLU of New Jersey, and Make the Road New York & New Jersey.
This statement is released by the Abolish ICE NY-NJ coalition is comprised of organizations including Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, Pax Christi New Jersey, American Friends Service Committee, Casa Freehold, Doctors for Camp Closures, Freedom For Immigrants, Hudson County Progressive Alliance, North New Jersey DSA, NYC DSA, Green Party of New Jersey, First Friends of NJ NY and partner organizations including New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice and Faith in New Jersey.