essex county commissioner board adopts resolution of support for state legislation prohibiting detention facilities from entering into contracts to detain undocumented residents

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. PHOTO BY GLEN FRIESON”

Resolution introduced by Commissioner Brendan Gill affirms Board’s support of State legislation banning government and private facilities in NJ from entering into contracts with Federal Immigration Authorities to detain noncitizens

(Newark, NJ) – On June 9, 2021, the Essex County Board of County Commissioners adopted a resolution of support for New Jersey State Senate and Assembly bills S3361/A5207. If signed into law, the bills would prohibit State, local government agencies and private detention facilities from entering into, renewing, or extending agreements with Federal Immigration authorities to detain individuals charged with violating their immigration status.

Commissioner President Richardson views the pending Senate and Assembly bills and the Essex County Commissioners’ resolution as significant steps forward. President Richardson stated, “While the County Commissioners have worked to ensure proper services to ICE detainees under our care, we support legislation that removes Essex County from this custodial relationship with our residents, many of whom are detained solely for questionable immigration status.”

The resolution was introduced by Commissioner Brendan Gill and sponsored by acclamation. Essex County currently has a contract in place with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold undocumented residents suspected of violating their immigration status. Although this contract is in place until 2026, the Board recently welcomed and supported County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr.’s decision to completely depopulate the ICE detainees from the Essex County Correctional Facility (ECCF) by August 23, 2021, signaling a marked transformation in the County’s Contract with ICE.

Within the last 2 years, the Board of Commissioners has worked with the County Administration and local advocacy groups to provide nearly 2 million dollars of County funds towards the legal defense of ICE detainees in the ECCF, and implemented the ECCF Civilian Task Force to address concerns regarding fair treatment of the detainees being held in custody. Since 2019, the Civilian Task Force has provided community based independent oversight of the Essex County Correctional Facility, and is the first independent oversight board of a county correctional facility, in the entire country, not mandated by court order.

Commissioner Gill, who has been in opposition to the county’s contract since 2019, was pleased with the Board’s support of the resolution and believes the decision to de-populate the ECCF of ICE detainees was a prudent course of action.

“As I have stated on many occasions, I am against Essex County’s contract with ICE, and I am in favor of a responsible wind down of the contract.” Commissioner Gill stated, “The county’s decision to depopulate the ECCF of ICE detainees by August 23, 2021 is a positive step towards removing Essex County from the process that leads to undocumented residents enduring the criminal consequences of incarceration, due to the alleged civil offense of violating their immigration status.”

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For Additional Information:
Kyalo Mulumba, Public Information Officer
Essex County Board of County Commissioners
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Board of County Commissioners,
County of Essex
465 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.,
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Newark, New Jersey 07102