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Lawsuit Says At-Risk Detainees Aren’t Released Despite Overcrowding

Bergen County Jail is about 50 percent over capacity, and many of those jailed are at high risk of contracting COVID-19.

Deanna Garcia

Feb 01, 2021

Bergen County Jail

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement revealed in a report that its detention center at Bergen County Jail is about 50 percent over capacity, despite denials from the jail. About 35 percent of those jailed at Bergen are medically compromised and at high risk of contracting COVID-19. After a 2019 lawsuit asked for the release of detainees, a federal judge ordered ICE last year to review detainees’ medical history and evaluate if they should be released to avoid catching COVID-19. Yet lawyers said ICE has not followed the court’s orders, leading some detainees to go on hunger strikes to demand their release. An ICE spokesperson said the data was inaccurate and the jail is actually under capacity, but a further explanation of the discrepancy was unavailable. Gothamist 

In other local immigration news…

NY Lawmakers Visit Prisons To Evaluate COVID-19 Concerns

New York lawmakers are starting to visit five state prisons, two local jails and one detention center where ICE detainees are held as COVID-19 spreads through the facilities. State Sen. Julia Salazar (D-Brooklyn), the chair of the Senate Corrections Committee, Assemblymembers Carmen de la Rosa (D-Manhattan) and Dan Quart  (D-Manhattan) launched a month of visits on Saturday. “We cannot allow more sickness and death behind bars,” the lawmakers said in a statement. “We call on the governor to release vulnerable people and ensure access for incarcerated New Yorkers while we continue the fight for parole reform and an end to solitary confinement.” Spectrum News 

NJ Attorney Cautions Immigrants About Excitement for Biden

Ingrid Echeverria, immigration attorney in Hudson County, cautioned immigrants to tamper their excitement over President Joe Biden’s immigration reform bill that promises 11 million undocumented immigrants a faster path to citizenship. “We have to educate people so that they understand that this is not a law already,” she said. “It has to go through the process of becoming legislation, so the best thing they can do right now is to prepare.” Echeverria went on to explain how most of her clients were traumatized by aggressive enforcement and have hesitated communicating with government agencies. NJ Spotlight

This article, including the headline, was changed to add more information from ICE.



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