New Jersey lawmakers are advancing a bill that would prohibit counties, municipalities, and private prison operators statewide from entering ICE contracts “to house or detain individuals for federal civil immigration violations.”
According to nj.com, the bill, S3361, was voted out of the state Senate Law and Public Safety committee Thursday along party lines, with four Democrats supporting the measure while two Republicans voted against it.
The Assembly companion A5207, is not yet scheduled for a vote in the Assembly Law and Public Safety committee. Before heading to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk first it must pass the full Assembly and Senate, however, it is considered a step forward over the immigration issue.
The bill not only would stop local and state governments from agreeing to new contracts; it would bar the renewal of any existing contracts, including the facilities in Bergen and Hudson counties. The state’s North Jersey facilities have faced mounting calls to close while deportations increased under the Trump administration, but fewer people are housed in ICE detention centers due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Free from ICE’s grip
Amy Torres, executive director of the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice and advocate calling for the closure of ICE facilities for years, called Thursday’s vote a “win (that) follows a wave of momentum at the local level to end detention and free New Jersey from ICE’s grip.”
“This is not the final step, but allows the movement to gain firm footing for the continued fight to #FreeThemAll,” she said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen and sponsored of the bill claimed the immigration status should not be a reason for imprisionment. “No human should be imprisoned because of their immigration status. I applaud NJ Alliance for Immigrant Justice and the ACLU for their continued advocacy. Thank you to the Senate Committee members for supporting our immigrant population and basic human rights,” she said.