Immigration Weekly Round-Up: Bergen County Ends Most ICE Detentions; DHS Reviewing Handling of Recent Border Issues; Dozens of Legal Scholars Call for Immigration Reform
N.J. Bergen County Board Votes to End ICE Prison Contract at Local Jail
This week, the Bergen County Commissioners Board officially ended its agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that permitted the detention of immigrants at the county jail in Hackensack, New Jersey. The board’s decision was unanimous, and ICE now has 45 days to remove the remaining detainees from the Bergen County Jail.
However, the county did not end its arrangement with ICE entirely. The commissioner’s board approved a new contract with the U.S. Marshals that lets the federal government hold immigration inmates if they are waiting for trial or to be transferred to another facility. It is not immediately clear how long detention would be permitted under these limited circumstances.
Following Hudson County’s decision to end their contract with ICE last month, the Bergen County Jail was the lone remaining facility in New Jersey to work with ICE. Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton issued a statement saying, “having seen federal enforcement priorities change and large fluctuations in the number of detainees in the jail, it is no longer the county’s best interest to continue housing ICE detainees. I believe that this is the right way to move forward.”
DHS Reviewing Agency Failures After Thousands of Haitians Arrived at Texas Border
Officials within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acknowledged this week that internal failures to share intelligence and protracted internal debates over how to manage deportation efforts left officials struggling how to handle over 25,000 Haitians who arrived at the southern border in Texas last month.
These officials pointed out that Customs and Border Protection (CBP), ICE, and DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis had received information in July that large groups of Haitians who had fled to South and Central America were attempting to travel to the United States. However, this information was not widely shared among the several government agencies charged with border safety and the enforcement of immigration laws.
Meanwhile, many within the Biden administration disagreed about the procedure for deporting Haitians unlawfully present in the United States, or how to handle an immediate humanitarian crisis. Some in the administration argued that deportations would be inhumane given the political upheaval following the assassination of Haiti’s president, as well as the large earthquake that struck in August. Others said that deportations would deter future migrants. This led to confusion, as deportations were temporarily halted, but then ramped up within a matter of days, deporting more than 7,200 migrants back to Haiti.
DHS is conducting an internal review of the factors that lead to this crisis and how to manage the situation better in the future. This review comes as tens of thousands of Haitians are still in Colombia and Panama, with indications that they intend to travel to the United States as well.
Legal Scholars Demand Senate Leadership Include Immigration Protections in Reconciliation Package
Recently, a group of over 90 legal scholars from across the United States submitted a letter to the United States Senate demanding that Vice President Kamala Harris, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), include immigration reforms in the massive budget legislation currently being considered by Congress. These scholars explicitly asked that the Senate not follow the recommendation of the Senate Parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, who advised that the immigration provisions were substantial shifts in non-budgetary matters that were outside the scope of a budget bill.
The scholars suggest that while the Presiding Officer may rely on the Senate Parliamentarian for advice, ultimately, the decision lies with the Presiding Officer of the Senate, who is either Vice President Harris or, if she is not present, Senator Leahy. The scholars highlighted that the immigration would, in fact, have a substantial effect on the federal budget, stating that “The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the budgetary effect of the LPR provisions would be $140 billion over the next 10 years — more than the entire effect of some statutes enacted through budget reconciliation in the past.”