Hudson County will stop housing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees as of Nov. 1, according to a letter from Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise.
DeGise penned the letter to ICE on Sept. 10, saying the county will stop accepting ICE detainees in about six weeks.
“…Effective November 1, the Hudson County Correctional Center will no longer house or accept any ICE detainees for housing,” DeGise wrote. “Until that time, the detainees currently housed at the facility can remain on the same terms as before.”
Jim Kennelly, a spokesperson for Hudson County, confirmed the letter, which ends the county’s controversial contract with ICE.
ICE contract melted
While the facility held upward of 600 ICE detainees a few years ago, the number has dropped. The pandemic sped things up, as more detainees were released to mitigate the spread of the virus. Now only 40 or so ICE detainees are currently housed at the Hudson County Correctional Center in Kearny.
Under the terms of the contract, the county is paid $120 per detainee per day by ICE. When the contract ends, the revenue formerly generated by the ICE detainees will be offset by other federal and state prisoners.
The Hudson County Board of Commissioners recently accepted a $7 million grant from the state Department of Community Affairs for the county’s pilot re-entry program, which helps prisoners reintegrate into society once released and will make up for lost revenue.
“The revenue is being replaced in a number of ways, including adding additional US Marshals prisoners and state inmates in the terminal phase of their sentences who reside in Hudson County,” Kennelly said. “We also anticipate some inmates from other county facilities will be housed with us going forward as part of ongoing consolidation efforts in other counties.”
The ICE detainees housed in Hudson County will go to other ICE-contracted facilities, he said. According to Kennelly, staffing at the jail will not be affected by the decision “at this time.”
Hot and then cold
The move to end the contract is a huge reversal from just months ago, when the Hudson County Board of Commissioners voted to renew the contract for 10 years.
The county faced pressure from activists and residents at commissioners meetings to not renew the contract due to inhumane conditions at the facility. After its renewal, the opposition did not cease, culminating in protests outside the homes of county officials. Officials responded with restraining orders against protesters after consecutive nights of demonstrations.
The decision to end the contract comes after Gov. Phil Murphy signed new legislation banning jails in the state from entering into new contracts with ICE. While the bill does not affect current contracts, such as Hudson’s, it was a signal that opposition to ICE contracts extends from the streets to the highest level of the New Jersey state government.
Hudson County was one of the last two counties in the state with ICE contracts, with Bergen County now being the last.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.