TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senator Nia Gill that would prohibit local entities and private correctional facilities from entering into new federal detention agreements to detain noncitizens, and would also ban the renewal or expansion of ICE detention contracts in New Jersey was passed today by the full Senate and sent to the Governor for final approval.
The legislative action comes in response to a new request from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement seeking additional detention space in New Jersey and the tri-state area. In October, 2020, ICE solicited a Request for Information” for new detention sites that would result in contracts to house up to 900 more detainees in New Jersey.
“County jails and other entities should be used to house people accused of real crimes, not to hold undocumented immigrants, and thereby needlessly separating them from their families,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “New Jersey has for generations been a landing spot for new immigrants from all over the world. These are our neighbors and friends. They enrich our lives, and strengthen our economy. This bill recognizes our common humanity, and I look forward to seeing Governor Murphy sign it into law.”
In January 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order that bans the Department of Justice from entering into these agreements. In addition, Virginia, California, Michigan, Illinois, and numerous county officials in other states have outlawed the practice.
“Allowing ICE to house detainees in New Jersey jails is a tacit approval of an immigration policy that tears apart families, destabilizes communities and even deports parents of United States citizens,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic). “Detainees are denied due process as well as adequate medical treatment. These policies continue the systemic racism of the incarceration of black and brown people. With the passage of this bill, New Jersey will join other states in leading the fight to end this form of immigration detention.”
The bill, S-3361, was released from the Senate by a vote of 23-15.