NJ sets aside $2.1 million to help immigrants facing deportation

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TRENTON -

New Jersey set aside $2.1 million in its fiscal year 2019 budget to help immigrants facing deportation in the state.

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and the Democrat-controlled Legislature signed off on the new spending this month as part of a recently adopted $37.4 billion budget. It comes as the federal government fell short of a deadline to reunite families separated under a federal zero tolerance immigration policy.

The governor included the money as part of his larger goal of pushing back against Republican President Donald Trump's crackdown on illegal immigration. The new spending survived contentious budget negotiations among Democratic leaders.

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Murphy campaigned on the promise of setting up an Office of Immigrant Protection, but the budget does not include that.

Meanwhile, a report by WNYC radio says that federal payments for detaining immigrations in New Jersey is up sharply in some counties.

The report states that invoices show Hudson, Bergen and Essex counties are collecting about $6 million per month combined from Immigration and Customs Enforcement in exchange for holding immigrants in their jails.

That amount is up more than 45 percent since the beginning of 2015 and continues a three-year trend that began under former President Barack Obama.

Many detainees are awaiting trial or deportation hearings. But recently they've included people seeking asylum or those who were separated from their children under the president’s “zero tolerance” enforcement policies.

Local officials say that they see the revenue as helping balance county budgets. Some immigrant advocates say detainees have better conditions and better access to legal resources in the county jails.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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