BXD & BDS Issue Joint Statement in Opposition to Phase-Out of Hudson County Jail Contract with ICE

Sept. 6, 2018 – (New York, NY) Today, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise announced a plan to exit a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to provide immigration detention in the county jail. Brooklyn Defender Services and Bronx Defenders released the following statement in opposition to this plan:

“As attorneys representing detained immigrants facing deportation through New York City’s pioneering New York Immigrant Family Unit Project (NYIFUP), we strongly support the movement to abolish ICE and believe there is no place for the jailing of asylum-seekers, longtime community members,  or anyone else based on birthplace in a just society. The civil and human rights violations perpetrated by ICE against immigrants and people of color are longstanding and well-documented. That said, ending contracts for ICE detention in jails near large immigrant communities where attorneys are provided for free will do far more harm than good and we question whether directly impacted people were engaged in this decision. Hudson County and other local governments have local control over jail contracts with ICE, but they do not have any control over what will happen to detained people if these contracts are terminated. That’s up to ICE.

People who are currently detained near their families and communities would be moved, likely hundreds or thousands of miles away, and quite possibly to remote private prisons where neither attorneys nor vigilant community members and clergy would be able to advocate for their rights and safety.

Certainly, reallocating revenue from the contract with ICE toward better serving people caught in the web of immigration detention, as local advocates and elected officials have called for, is worthy, but phasing out the contract itself is the wrong move.

NYIFUP representation has increased the likelihood of detained people winning their cases by a factor of 12 – from 4% to 48%. In addition to saving people from deportation, family dissolution, and in many cases death in their country of origin, this program has shown that nearly half of the people arrested and detained by ICE have a legal claim to remain in their homes and communities here under the law. This only strengthens the argument to abolish ICE.

Our country must fundamentally transform its immigration system to recognize the humanity of all people, including by repealing the laws that created our current mass immigration detention system. Until that is achieved, we must proceed responsibly and do no harm.”


Anna Kim, annakim@bronxdefenders.org, (919) 259-8069

Jared Chausow, jchausow@bds.org, (650) 814-0565