Immigrant Advocates Tell Pols, Don’t Ignore Detainees in County Jails

NJTV News | August 14, 2018 | Immigration
Elizabeth Detention Center gets the most press, but the majority of undocumented immigrants rounded up by the Trump administration are in county facilities

The Elizabeth Detention Center, which is run by a private company, houses 300 immigrant detainees — many sent from the southern border since the Trump administration’s crackdown.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) toured the facility this past Friday, and described the detainees he met as “people who are spouses of Americans, who are parents of Americans, who have never had any criminal problems whatsoever.”

Is this “the best use of taxpayer dollars? It’s very expensive,” Booker continued. “These aren’t flight risks. They aren’t going to leave their American children. There’s a lot of these policies that don’t reflect our values, don’t keep us safe, and cost Americans a lot of money in terms of the detention costs.”

The Elizabeth center has become the focus for political protests by elected officials. But officials are making a priority of the “wrong spot,” said Project Coordinator at the American Friends Service Committee, Serges Demefack.

“It’s been the same facility they are touring over and over. And we want to ask Sen. Booker and Sen. Menendez to go into the county jails in New Jersey that are housing the majority of immigrant detainees,” Demefack said.

Protests have recently targeted Essex, Hudson, and Bergen County jails which hold most of the immigrant detainees and together collect $6 million a month from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Critics call it blood money. Thursday, protesters in Jersey City angrily complained about the Hudson County freeholders’ unscheduled vote on July 12 when the board unexpectedly renewed a contract with ICE. It currently houses more than 600 detainees at its county jail in Kearny.

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