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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Don't end N.J. contracts with ICE. Fight to improve jail conditions

NJ.com (Editorial)
July 30, 2018

Democrat-led county governments are falling under fire from their own party, for collecting millions from the federal government to detain unauthorized immigrants in their jails.

Hudson, Bergen and Essex counties are raking in more than $6 million a month from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to WNYC’s Matt Katz. Essex made nearly $3 million in May alone — nearly double what it got in any month during Obama’s presidency.

This is thanks to the Trump administration’s soaring arrests, including people seeking asylum or separated from their children at the border; even long-time residents with no criminal history.

Like Pablo Villavicencio, a Brooklyn pizza deliveryman and father of two, who was held in Hudson county’s lockup for nearly eight weeks after being arrested while dropping off food at an Army base.

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez is seeking a third term in November.

At the time, he was married to a U.S. citizen and in the process of applying for citizenship himself. Because of outrageous cases like this, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., is among many Democrats who have condemned these jail contracts.

Jay Arena, running against Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, has said they are akin to “taking Donald Trump’s blood money.”

This revenue helps tamp down our local property taxes. But is it blood money? Should counties end their contracts with ICE?

The answer is no. If we did so tomorrow, immigrants like Villavicencio would not suddenly be released. They would be shipped much further away from their families and attorneys.

Asylum seekers and other immigrants in New Jersey detention facilities complain about bad food, dirty water and inadequate medical care, according to a new report.

This is not just theoretical. When four county jails ended their ICE contracts a few years ago, immigrants held in Passaic, Middlesex, Monmouth and Sussex were moved as far away as Orange County and Buffalo, N.Y. Virtually no one came to visit them there, said Sally Pillay, head of an immigrant advocacy group. It’s onerous enough for relatives working long hours and swamped lawyers to visit New Jersey’s lockups.

Granted, we should not be wasting taxpayer money to warehouse people who are harmless. This was the point of bail reform in New Jersey: Keep the dangerous locked up, but ensure that people who pose no risk aren’t crowding our jails, simply because they’re poor. Yet now, thanks to ICE, the cells we cleared of low-risk detainees are being filled up again, with harmless immigrants.

Why should a pizza guy sit behind bars for close to two months, while a sex offender gets out with an electronic monitoring bracelet?

But the counties cannot stop ICE from detaining these people. So instead of effectively demanding that they are shipped further away, protestors should insist that we improve the conditions of our jails.

The Hudson lockup where Villavicencio was held with five parents separated from their kids at the Mexican border was “inhumane,” he told the New York Daily News. “We had to clean the place from residuals of urine and feces, and there was no air conditioning. It was very difficult.”

A February report by Human Rights First found much the same thing — poor conditions in Hudson and Essex county jails, it said, including “countless complaints” of inadequate medical care, bad hygiene, racism and discrimination by staff and denial of due process.

The group called this a human rights violation. County officials deny it, saying their jails regularly pass inspections. Yet to maximize profits, they will always have an incentive to spend as little as possible on each person in custody. That’s why improving oversight is crucial.

Largely thanks to a 2016 complaint by Pillay’s group, Hudson county is now setting up a new system for medical grievances. If an allegation of poor care is not recognized by the jail, it will go to an outside appeals board. Why doesn’t Essex adopt this as well?

Instead of breaking ties with ICE, which simply relocates detainees, turn the heat up on people like “Joe D” to improve how we are treating them.

For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

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