NJAIJ, AFSC, First Friends, Hudson for All, ACLU-NJ & others called on Hudson County to end participation in federal program
Following a campaign by advocates calling on Hudson County to end an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement enabling county employees to perform the functions of immigration agents, the county government announced it would withdraw from its 287(g) agreement with the federal government.
“Today is a proud day to be from Hudson County,” said Andrea Long, a lead organizer of the grassroots organization Hudson for All and the donor relations manager for the ACLU of New Jersey. “In a county where nearly half of all residents are immigrants, participation in 287(g) exposed our neighbors to the risk of being swept up in the Trump administration's mass deportation campaign and endangered everyone here. We’re grateful that County Executive DeGise and the freeholders realized how serious of a threat 287(g) posed to our community, and we need other counties to follow Hudson’s example. We look forward to working with the Freeholders and the County Executive in the next step for protecting immigrants – passing a Fair & Welcoming Ordinance.”
Advocates from a host of New Jersey organizations in addition to the ACLU of New Jersey, including the Alliance for Immigrant Justice, American Friends Service Committee, First Friends New York New Jersey, Hudson For All, Make the Road New Jersey, and ACLU People Power, among many others, had strongly pushed to end the program. Three other counties – Cape May, Monmouth, and Salem – currently have 287(g) contracts with ICE.
"New Jersey has the third largest percentage of foreign born residents in the country, and Hudson County has the most diverse community in the state,” said Johanna Calle, executive director of the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice. “Relationships with ICE go against the values of our state and the needs of immigrant communities. Hudson County has realized what others should, too: that working with ICE is a liability that jeopardizes the public safety of their residents. We applaud Hudson County leadership for putting community priorities over anti-immigrant policies that separate families.”
Efforts to end the 287(g) agreement in Hudson County gained strength in June 2016, when advocates urged Hudson County not to renew its expiring contract. Despite news reports and meetings indicating Hudson County’s willingness to end the agreement, the county executive renewed it in July 2016, prompting an outcry from residents.
Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act is a voluntary, unfunded federal program whereby state or local law enforcement agencies may have officers deputized as federal immigration agents, with the power to conduct immigration arrests and initiate deportation proceedings.
“Hudson County did the right thing by ending its 287(g) agreement,” said ACLU-NJ Senior Staff Attorney Farrin Anello. “Now the county can focus on protecting public safety rather than targeting immigrant residents. Other counties should follow Hudson County’s example, and we urge statewide reforms to end the use of local resources for federal immigration enforcement.”
Agreements under 287(g) have led to civil rights abuses, most notoriously under Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose 287(g) agreement was terminated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security after a federal investigation revealed racial profiling and discrimination.
"We’re thrilled and relieved that Hudson County terminated its 287(g) agreement, and we’re inspired by the power of the people of Hudson County and New Jersey advocates to persuade Hudson County to do the right thing,” said Chia-Chia Wang, organizing and advocacy director of the American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program. “Local law enforcement should not be in the business of carrying out federal immigration, which undermined trust among communities and negatively impacted all residents. Other counties that have similar agreements should take note and end their participation in the machinery of immigration arrests, detentions, and deportations now."