W.When New Jersey passed a law banning new, renewed, or renewed contracts with immigration and customs in August 2021, it came as a shock. Just two years ago The nation reported on the cynical greed of deep blue districts where Democratic officials denounced the Trump administration while generating immense revenue by keeping ICE prisoners in county jails. During the passage of S3361 / A5207 is a victory for the movement – bringing New Jersey to the top of the nation’s immigration justice system – and begs the question of what the state-level abolition of the ICE will entail in the Biden era.
Resistance to the ICE collaboration dates back decades in New Jersey, though the Trump years saw heightened activism from district government meetings disturbed by songs and sings civil disobedience In the streets. As the pandemic made ICE incarceration a possible death sentence, ICE detainees went on repeated hunger strikes at all four New Jersey facilities, with outsiders offering their assistance.
All of that resistance work peaked and fell in November 2020 when the owners of Hudson County (now commissioners) voted 6-3 to renew their contract with ICE against unanimous opposition from more than a hundred speakers. They had their two-year extension in 2018 publicly as “Output path“But this time County Executive Tom DeGise cited the new Biden administration as a reason to extend the agreement for up to ten more years.
The twelve-hour county meet-up was a tour de force by the organization, drawing speakers from all walks of life including those imprisoned in Hudson County speaking of its horrors, but it also reflected the lack of democratic accountability that is manifesting in New Jersey tightly guided circular machineswhere established companies are protected from challenges. The Hudson Showdown indicated the need for a state-level strategy away from the impenetrable machine fortresses. It also solidified abolition as the consensus of the movement. However, there is a risk that termination of ICE contracts could result in detainees being transferred to facilities in other states, away from family or lawyers. During the Hudson’s 2018 contract renewal debates, the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) argued that it aims to represent New Yorkers incarcerated in New Jersey pro bono against the termination of the contract. In 2020, NYIFUP took instead Neutral position. However, staff unions, including many of the immigration attorneys who represent prisoners in New Jersey, delivered one Statement that calls for the end of the Hudson ICE contract.