The Essex County Board of County Commissioners
Pictured are (from left to right, front row) District 2 Commissioner President Wayne Richardson, Commissioner At-Large Romaine Graham, District 3 Commissioner Tyshammie L. Cooper, Commissioner At-Large Patricia Sebold, and Commissioner At-Large Brendan Gill. (From left to right, back row) District 5 Commissioner Vice President Carlos Pomares, District 4 Commissioner Leonard M. Luciano, Commissioner At-Large Rufus I. Johnson, and District 1 Commissioner Robert Mercado.
Dear Senators Menendez and Booker:
As you may know, on Friday, April 23rd, Essex County officially notified Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of its intention to depopulate the Essex County Correctional Facility (ECCF) of ICE detainees. According to the County’s contract with the Federal government, ICE has 120 days to remove detainees from the ECCF, which means there will be zero detainees in the ECCF by August 23rd. ICE will decide where the detainees currently housed in the ECCF will be transferred and, at the time of the announcement, there were 165 ICE detainees in the ECCF.
As President of the Essex County Board of County Commissioners, I wish to convey the Board’s deep concerns about the transfer of those detainees to various facilities throughout the country. It has always been in the best interest of the detainees to remain close to their families, friends, attorneys and community organizations helping them in a facility that was safe and secure, which Essex County provided during the years ICE detainees were housed in the ECCF.
On behalf of the Board of County Commissioners, I ask for your help in calling on the Biden Administration, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to promptly grant the release of those detainees being held due solely to their immigration status to the custody of their families. Reports show that of the approximately 38,000 detainees in ICE custody nationally, more than sixty percent of the detainees, 22,936 people, do not have criminal convictions. Alternatives to incarceration can be employed to monitor these non-violent and low-risk individuals while they await further proceedings and those alternatives, such as electronic bracelet monitors, will allow these individuals to remain closer to their families, attorneys and support systems rather than being transported to distant locations.
As a proponent of equality, equity, and social justice, I cannot condone federal policies that detain individuals for no reason other than their unauthorized entry into the United States. This Board wholeheartedly supports immigration reform that creates a viable path to citizenship and hopes that every detained person receives an expeditious and just resolution to their situation. On behalf of the Essex County Board of County Commissioners, I support and call for the release of non-violent and low-risk individuals scheduled for transfer from the ECCF.
We thank you for your continued leadership, voice, and advocacy.
Wayne L. Richardson
Essex County Commissioner President