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Immigration advocates say detainees are being transferred out of Hudson jail; county and ICE say that’s not true logo 1/8/2021 Peter D’Auria,
a large brick building: By one count, New Jersey had the highest rate of deaths in custody of any large jail system in the country. © Reena Rose Sibayan | The Jersey Journal/REENA ROSE SIBAYAN / JERSEY JOUR/ By one count, New Jersey had the highest rate of deaths in custody of any large jail system in the country.

Federal and county officials on Friday pushed back on reports that dozens of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees have been transferred from the Hudson County jail to a facility in New York.

Tania Mattos, policy and Northeast monitoring manager for Freedom for Immigrants, said in a tweet Friday that 50 ICE detainees were transferred from Hudson County jail to Orange County Correctional Facility, in Goshen, New York.

Citing sources inside the jail and family members of detainees, Mattos said in a subsequent interview that the number of transferred detainees was actually 40.

But governmental agencies are refuting those reports. Hudson County spokesman Jim Kennelly, as well as an ICE official, said only three people were moved to a New York facility on Thursday.

“I’m telling you, as the county spokesman, that I’ve been informed by the operational leadership at the Corrections and Rehabilitation Center that there have been three people that were transferred to Orange County by ICE,” Kennelly said. Transfers between ICE facilities are routine, the ICE official added.

Kennelly said that reports of a mass hunger strike at the facility in Kearny are also not true. Detainee advocates have issued several press releases in recent weeks detailing what they describe to be escalating hunger strikes at the detention centers in Hudson and Essex counties.

Only one person in ICE custody at the Hudson County jail refused consecutive meals, Kennelly said.

“A., There was no 55-person hunger strike,” Kennelly said. “B., there was one person who refused up to six meals, who happened to be one of three people who was removed to Orange County, New York by ICE.”

The population of ICE detainees at the jail is currently 65, roughly two-thirds of the 93 detainees at the facility in November, the ICE spokesman said. He did not reply to emailed questions about reasons for the reported decline or a timeline of transfers or releases.

But activists concerned about conditions for detainees at the Hudson County jail are skeptical about statements coming from ICE — and Hudson County officials, since the Board of Commissioners (then-freeholders) renewed a lucrative contract with the federal agency in November.

“If Hudson officials don’t want to believe them and (would) rather believe ICE, then that’s their prerogative,” Mattos said. “But we are believing what the people who are detained are telling us and their family members.”

The federal government pays Hudson County $120 per night for every immigrant detainee housed at the jail.


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