Essex County Freeholder Resolution on Prisoners of ICE Just a First Step

Jim Price
Published: 06/12/2020

The Essex County Freeholders passed a resolution at their June 10th meeting asking that ICE release the detainees at the Essex County Correctional Facility. It’s a step in the right direction but long overdue. The resolution is non-binding which means that the powers-that-be will be free to ignore it if they choose. In addition to being non-binding, the resolution has some unnecessary qualifiers. According to the resolution, the detainees should be released for only as long as we’re in pandemic mode. They should be released only if they are non-violent. The detainees, however, are in "civil detention”; that means they are not charged with any crime. If they were, they would be charged and awaiting trial in criminal detention. They are in jail simply because Trump has made being an immigrant a jailable offense.

The resolution will prove meaningless if the freeholders don’t publicly put pressure on both ICE and County Executive Joe DiVincenzo to comply with the resolution. Comply, as in release them to their families and communities, not transfer them to some other jurisdiction that complains less. And when the pandemic ends, leave them free. They don’t need to be in detention, civil or otherwise. Since ICE routinely ignores the instructions of federal judges, ignoring a non-binding resolution will be no problem for them without sustained public pressure. The goal is the permanent release of the detainees and the end of the contract that our all-Democratic county government has signed in its collaboration with Trump and ICE.

Topics: COVID-19Donald TrumpEssex County, NJICEImmigrationJoe DiVincenzo