Since President Donald Trump's election, Democratic lawmakers have called for ending cooperation with immigration authorities. Protested immigration enforcement tactics. And some have started calling for abolishing ICE.

But while Democrats have been demonstrating against Trump administration immigration policies, few have paid attention to how Democratic officials in New Jersey's deepest-blue counties have collected millions of dollars by doing business with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A review of public records by WNYC, found that Bergen, Essex and Hudson counties have earned $150 million since January 2015 in exchange for incarcerating immigration detainees.

The amount that the counties have been paid has increased by double-digit percentages since Trump's election, WNYC found.

On Thursday, the Democratic-controlled freeholder board in Hudson County — which has one of the largest concentrations of immigrants in the state and the nation — renewed an ICE contract to house detainees at the county jail in Kearny. The deal will provide the county with $120 per inmate per day, a 9 percent increase from their previous contract.

The three counties house as many as 2,000 detainees at any given time, including asylum seekers and immigrants who overstayed their visas but have not been accused of criminal violations.

Some officials have defended the county facilities, explaining that immigrants might otherwise have to be housed in federal or state prison and have less access to legal advocates.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email

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