2019 county budget to allocate funds to legal services for ICE detainees

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. and the Board of Chosen Freeholders recently announced that the 2019 Essex County budget will include an allocation of $750,000 to create a Legal Services Fund to provide representation to ICE detainees at the Essex County Correctional Facility.

“We are pleased to join with the Freeholders to announce the creation of the Legal Services Fund for ICE detainees. This will ensure immigration detainees have enhanced access to legal representation,” DiVincenzo said. “We have always been committed to providing the best possible conditions for people being detained at our correctional facility. This will ensure detainees have the legal representation they are entitled to.”

“The subcommittee hearing held on Thursday evening, March 14, was a much needed step in demonstrating the board’s commitment to make sure that all people of the county, including undocumented residents, receive equal protection under the law,” Gill said. “As an immediate action item, I asked for substantial monies from the revenue of the ICE contract be earmarked for the legal defense of the undocumented detainees in the Essex County Jail. We are pleased to announce, along with the administration, that $750,000 will be set aside for the legal defense of said undocumented detainees.”

“The subcommittee hearing provided the proper forum for a necessary conversation that needed to be had. This was somewhat overdue, but it’s never too late to do the right thing,” Freeholder Vice President Wayne Richardson said.

The creation of the Legal Services Fund seeks to provide access to legal representation that is above and beyond the pro bono services currently available. The specifics of how the new fund will operate are still being worked out. Detainees also have access to a variety of immigrant advocacy organizations that provide assistance to both those in the ECCF and their families.