NEWARK, N.J. — A small but vocal group gathered on the steps of the Essex County Hall of Records, in advance of an evening freeholders meeting, to demand the county end a long-standing contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The contract means the county holds up to 800 illegal immigrants in its local correctional facility. In turn, the county receives $117 per day, per detainee – about $40 million a year.
Citing deplorable conditions in the Essex County facility, activists are demanding that Essex County follow the lead of Hudson County, which has announced plans to stop jailing immigrants for ICE in its local jail next year.
"We've had moldy bread, slimy lunch meat, lack of access to healthcare, lack of access to mental healthcare, lack of access to clean drinking water, lavatories filled with flies," activist Cathy O'Leary said Wednesday.
These protesters say they're part of a growing movement demanding an end to what they call deplorable imprisonment of immigrants waiting for their cases to be heard.
Newark City Council President Mildred Crump added her voice to the movement
"I don't think they should be jailed," said Crump. "There should be some kind of center... where they can remain until their immigration status, if it's in question, is solved."