KEARNY, NJ — Hudson County is planning to stop jailing illegal immigrants for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. The federal government pays Hudson County $20 to $25 million per year for this.
"Right now, what we are doing for ICE and for Donald Trump is we're saying, lets make it really easy to round people up who in the past wouldn't be round up," said Seth Kaper-Dale, a pastor who has helped undocumented immigrants and refugees.
Kaper-Dale says Hudson County's plan falls short because holding immigrants for the Trump administration should end right now. County freeholders are considering a resolution that would allow them to exit the contract in 2020.
"We recognize it will take some time to deal with the 700 people currently detained," he says, "but do not take another body through an ICE contract if you’re serious that its an immoral thing."
County executive Tom DeGise says that would be impossible. If Hudson County ripped ICE out of their budget today, it would mean layoffs and tax hikes. The county relies on almost $2 million per month from ICE.
"They’re not shy to say this is a money game," stated Kaper-Dale. "But I think the immorality of making money for your county through wrong imprisoning is an unacceptable thing."
The county executive said today that if you took all the immigrant detainees away, the Hudson County Jail would have more guards than prisoners thanks to New Jersey bail reform.
Pro bono attorneys for immigrant detainees in Hudson County say that if immigrants can't be held here, ICE could send them even further away from their families. Many of the 700 immigrants housed at the Hudson County Jail were arrested in New York.
"I’m not in favor of just ripping them off the streets and throwing them into jail," said DeGise. "But once they're in the system, I think I'd rather be where they are right now as they fight to go back into their homes than anyplace else."
Hudson County Freeholder Chair Anthony Vainieri said the board plans to vote on a resolution for the ICE exit plan next month.
"We’re just housing these detainees here because they have to go somewhere," he said. "You’re never ever going to get rid of this situation we have unless Donald Trump is not the president."