Joe Divincenzo and Chris Christie
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Whit Strub for The Nation: New Jersey Is Addicted To ICE

North Jersey is a Democratic stronghold. Why is it complicit with Trump’s deportation machine?

Few counties in the nation are more solidly Democratic than Essex County, New Jersey. Donald Trump got just 20 percent of the county’s votes in 2016, and last summer, over a thousand people gathered in Newark to protest Trump’s family-separation policy.

Yet, if you scroll through Essex County’s 2018 budget, you’ll find the third-largest entry among its general non-tax revenue streams is $35.6 million for “federal inmate housing,” or immigrant detainees. This is part of a lucrative contract with ICE that dates back to 2011, and, despite the national outrage over Trump’s deportation machine, it shows no signs of being canceled.

Whitney Strub teaches women's and gender studies at Rutgers University-Newark.