For decades, Hudson County has been a welcoming community and bastion of democratic values. But on Thursday, July 12, we were betrayed when the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders, in an astonishingly swift 5-2 vote, chose to contract once again with the federal agency of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As you know, ICE is responsible for the recent rash of cruel, heinous, and inhumane practices inflicted on those seeking refuge and/or asylum. Make no mistake, Hudson County - with that vote, our Freeholders have made us all complicit in this machine which is tearing families apart on a daily basis. This is your tax dollars at work. The vote on this contract was put on the agenda at the last minute, in an attempt to prevent the public from taking notice and speaking out.
This meeting took place at 1pm, on a weekday, at a time when activists and concerned citizens were unable to attend. We echo the sentiments of Sally Pillay, program director of First Friends of NJ and NY, “It was disappointing that the Freeholders rushed and voted to continue the IGSA agreement, without further review of what is written in the contract and without acknowledging Freeholder Torres’s request to table the item for further research and discussion. Clearly profits before humans were the driving point, given there are 800 ICE detainees to 400 inmates incarcerated in the facility.
This is not the Hudson County we know and love. We are a place of acceptance; a place where those seeking refuge are welcomed with open arms; a place where diversity isn't just tolerated, but celebrated. Today, we call upon County Executive Tom DeGise and the Board of Chosen Freeholders to utilize the 60-day opt-out clause in the contract and retract their agreement with ICE. We elected you to make moral judgments in the best interest of Hudson County, and this decision is in clear violation of your contract with your constituents.
We encourage everyone to attend the next Freeholders meeting, currently scheduled for August 9, again at 1pm at 567 Pavonia Avenue, Jersey City NJ 07508. Although the timing is challenging, this might be the last chance for your voice to be heard. We must speak for those who cannot speak for themselves and we must fight for those who have nowhere else to go because that’s what America is all about.
Ron Bautista, Former Hoboken Mayoral Candidate
Phil Cohen, Chair, Hoboken Democratic Committee
Nora Martínez DeBenedetto, First Vice Chair, Hoboken Democratic Committee
Rachel Hodes, Recording Secretary, Hoboken Democratic Committee
Vera Sirota, Hoboken Democratic Committee Member
Eytan Stern-Weber, Co-Founder, Hudson For All; Immigrantion Lead, Hudson CAN