The New Jersey State Senate and Assembly recently passed bills that would ban counties from signing new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement contracts. The bills will also prohibit counties with existing ICE contracts (Essex, Hudson and Bergen) from renewing them. The legislation is awaiting Gov. Phil Murphy’s signature.

The two major political parties have done little to resolve the immigration issue. Nationally, the Republicans vote for jails and walls; the Democrats vote for dithering. The presence of 11.5 million undocumented residents are a testament to the failure of both approaches. Meanwhile in North Jersey, enterprising Democrats have collaborated with ICE to balance county budgets with lucrative jail contracts.

Immigration is a global phenomenon. Nowhere have walls and jails stopped desperate people from fleeing life-threatening situations. Turning a blind eye to undocumented immigrants so they can provide cheap labor is also not a solution. The opportunists who control both parties need to do better and come up with a path to citizenship for all. The current system — or lack of one — is deeply inhumane. 

Jim Price

Editor's note: Essex County officials announced in late April they were ending a contract to house ICE inmates at the county jail.


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