Thursday’s vote was an attempt by the count’s Democratic leadership to placate activists and immigrant advocates who were angered by the July re-authorization of the contract.
JERSEY CITY — The freeholder board on Thursday voted to approve a new version of the county’s controversial contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, one that requires freeholder approval if the county wants to extend the contract beyond 2020.
The reference to 2020 is the only change to the ICE contract approved by the freeholders, who renewed a version of the contract in July that has no end date. The agreement allows ICE to house immigrant detainees at the county’s Kearny jail.
Thursday’s meeting ran for four and a half hours as dozens of speakers sounded off on ICE, immigration and President Trump.
This vote was an attempt by the county’s Democratic leadership to placate activists and immigrant advocates who were angered by the July re-authorization. Judging by the comments of some of those activists on Thursday, the anger of anti-ICE activists has not diminished. They branded the freeholders “tepid liberals,” scolded them for working with ICE in the Trump era and criticized the measure approved Thursday as one that “falls short” of the county’s pledge to exit the contact.
The meeting also saw dramatic statements from former detainees at the Kearny jail. Speaking through translators, one said he was targeted and abused at the jail because he is gay, another said he was raped twice by other inmates and jail officials did not investigate.
“We are not criminals. We are humans that deserve respect,” said one of them, Edwin Perez.
The board voted 6-3 to approve the new version of the contract. Board members Ken Kopacz, Jerry Walker, Anthony Romano, Caridad Rodriguez and Albert Cifelli joined the board’s chair, Anthony Vainieri, in favor. Bill O’Dea, Joel Torres and Tilo Rivas voted no.
When the county renewed the contract in July, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise initially defended it amid criticism from local activists. In September, he bowed to pressure by announcing a “path to exit” the contract. On Thursday, his critics said he has not followed through on that pledge.
“I can’t even stress to everybody that’s here tonight the empty promises that we have received from this freeholder board,” said Kristen Beatty, co-chair of Hudson County’s branch of the North New Jersey Democratic Socialists of America. “It’s very discouraging.”
Vainieri told The Jersey Journal that …read more
Source:: New Jersey Real-Time News