ICE Detainees in New Jersey Go On Hunger Strike in Demand for Freedom

Published December 30, 2020

ICE Detainees in New Jersey Go On Hunger Strike in Demand for Freedom

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees at the Hudson County jail began a hunger strike Monday, demanding their release amid a coronavirus outbreak at the facility.

There are an estimated 25 to 28 detainees striking at the jail in Kearny. Detainees at the Essex County jail also launched a hunger strike on Monday.

The hunger strikes come on the heels of an outbreak of COVID-19 cases at the Hudson County jail. As of Christmas Eve, at least 16 county prisoners and one federal inmate had tested positive for the virus. By Sunday, that number rose to 33 prisoners. Hudson County spokesman Jim Kennelly noted on Monday that no ICE detainees are currently infected with the virus.

ICE pays Hudson County $120 a day per detainee as part of the agreement. All ICE detainees in the Hudson County jail are currently New York residents.

ICE detainees in Hudson and Essex counties went on hunger strike in March during the first wave of the coronavirus.

There was a hunger strike in August, as well as a suicide or self-harm attempt, the documents showed.

Meanwhile, a recent hunger strike at the Bergen County jail resulted in two detainee releases and several transfers to other facilities, including one as far as Miami. Those striking in Bergen County were at times denied water, medical care, heat, window access.