Hunger strike by ICE detainees at NJ jails? Not so, officials say
Federal and local officials are denying reports that immigration detainees at the county jail are on hunger strike.
The Abolish ICE NY-NJ Coalition said in a written statement on Monday that dozens of ICE detainees at the Essex and Hudson jails have gone on strike to "gain their freedom."
"The strike coincides with a spike in COVID-19 cases at both facilities creating fear, a sense of urgency and exacerbating the already harsh conditions for those inside jails and ICE facilities," the group's statement said.
Hudson County spokesman James Kennelly told New Jersey 101.5 in an email on Tuesday that "detainees, after engaging with ICE, appeared satisfied and were eating" on Monday.
Anthony Puglisi, a spokesman for Essex County, also said Tuesday that all inmates were eating.
A spokesman for ICE on Tuesday said that "there are no hunger strikes at Hudson or Essex."
Kennelly said that at Hudson's jail, 35 inmates, a U.S. Marshal’s inmate and two corrections officers have tested positive for coronavirus as of Tuesday. No ICE detainees have tested positive, according to Kennelly.
"All are in our dedicated medical isolation unit in the facility that operates with separate air handling and full CDC quarantine protocols. None have exhibited serious symptoms thus far," Kennelly said. The corrections officers are in self quarantine, according to Kennelly.
Abolish ICE NY-NJ Coalition did not return a request for more information on Tuesday.
The group said that immigrant detainees at the Bergen jail had been denied water, medical care, heat and access to windows during their hunger strike. ICE denied these allegations.
There's also been anti-ICE protests outside of Bergen County jail, which recently devolved into violent clashes with law enforcement.
Previous reporting by Erin Vogt was included in this report.