Some of the tristate region’s most Democrat-leaning counties are making millions of dollars by detaining illegal immigrants for the federal government.
Invoices show Hudson, Bergen and Essex counties in New Jersey are collecting about $6 million per month combined from Immigration and Customs Enforcement in exchange for holding the illegals in their jails. That amount is up sharply, by nearly 50 percent, since the beginning of 2015 and continues a three-year trend that began under President Barack Obama.
The revenue increase is especially evident in Essex County, where ICE paid nearly $3 million for the month of May, nearly double what the county was getting in any month during Obama’s presidency.
Up to about 2,000 immigrants are held in the three county jails at any one time as they await deportation proceedings, and some are detained for years. Hudson and Essex counties house among the highest number of immigrant detainees of more than 100 county jails around the country that have ICE contracts.
Hillary Clinton won Hudson and Essex counties by large margins over Trump, and Bergen County went for Clinton by about 14 percentage points.
Local officials see the revenue as helping balance county budgets.
“These folks were going to be sent somewhere, and chances are if nobody stepped up they could have been placed in one of the tent cities being set up,” said Albany County County Sheriff Craig Apple, who recently began accepting immigrant detainees for $119 per day. “They will be in an air-conditioned wing and getting help with access to free legal services.”