TRENTON, N.J. — State and local governments in New Jersey could be prohibited from doing business with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as a new bill advances through the state senate.
The bill, known as S3361/A5207, would prohibit public and private contractors from entering into, renewing, or expanding ICE detention contracts in New Jersey. The bill would allow for local, state, and federal officials to coordinate the safe and planned release of people currently detained in ICE facilities to their families and community.
The bill advanced by a 4-2 vote out of the state senate’s law and public safety committee. It’s now being referred to the senate’s budget and appropriations committee. The assembly version of the bill remains in that chamber’s law and public safety committee.
The legislation has the approval of State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, a primary sponsor. The assembly version of the bill is co-sponsored by eight different members, all Democrats.
For immigration activists, this bill’s passage could mean ICE would have a less pervasive influence on their lives.
“Nearly one in four New Jersyans is an immigrant, and whether undocumented or not, all immigrants are at risk of detention and deportation under ICE’s terror regime. Today’s win follows a wave of momentum at the local level to end detention and free New Jersey from ICE’s grip,” said Amy Torres, Executive Director of the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice. “This is not the final step, but allows the movement to gain firm footing for the continued fight to #FreeThemAll.”
Weinberg sees the bill as a matter of justice.
“No human should be imprisoned because of their immigration status,” Weinberg said. “I applaud NJ Alliance for Immigrant Justice and the ACLU for their continued advocacy. Thank you to the Senate Committee members for supporting our immigrant population and basic human rights.”
Essex County, home to the state’s most-populous city in Newark, has already ended it’s contracts with ICE, with Hudson County legislators also considering it. Essex County Correctional Facility is currently housing 165 detainees. The target date to depopulate them from the prison is set for Aug. 23.
The Bergen County Jail in Hackensack has been a site of protests over the treatment of its prisoners. PIX11 News took a tour of the facility in December.