TRENTON – New Jersey prisons and jails can no longer contract to detain immigrants who are not U.S. citizens under a law signed by Governor Phil Murphy on Friday.
Murphy announced the new law in an email and without any further comment.
Immigrant rights groups and the American Civil Liberties Union have pushed for and hailed the legislation.
“This hard-fought victory reflects the resilience and tenacity of our communities – and reaffirms that our vision of a world without detention is within reach,” said Tania Mattos, head of policy and surveillance for the North East at the within the Freedom for Immigrants advocacy group in a statement.
The law follows reports showing that prisons in northern New Jersey had contracted with U.S. immigration and customs services.
These reports led to protests from immigrant rights groups, which resulted in the legislation, which was introduced in January.
“It is the state’s responsibility to protect the health and safety, including the physical and mental health, of those detained in New Jersey,” the text of the legislation states.
“New Jersey detention centers and prisons have a history of poor conditions, including inadequate medical and mental health care, the use of solitary confinement, and incidents of violence and retaliation against those in detention. “
An ICE spokesperson in Newark declined to comment on the new law.
It is not known how many detainees, if any, could be affected by the law.
Essex County announced earlier this year that it would end its contract with the agency. Hudson County officials voted late last year to extend a contract for up to a decade after earlier saying they would end the deal. Bergen County is also already home to detainees.
According to the ICE, 26 people are currently being held at Bergen County Jail, including 106 at the Elizabeth Private Detention Center.
It is not known how many are in Hudson County.
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