The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement may reconsider its deal with Essex County to house 1,250 immigrant detainees after the county canceled a controversial bid to house some of the prisoners in a private facility.
The county from a Community Education Centers' affiliate to house 450 of the detainees at the privately run Delaney Hall.
Hours later, though, the county said it would not accept the sole bid and would re-open the bidding process.
"Based on the results of the bid Essex County plans to re-issue, ICE may need to renegotiate or modify the terms of our current contract with the county," Harold Ort, a public affairs officer with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Newark, said Tuesday.
Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. signed a five-year federal contract last Thursday that is expected to bring up to $250 million in revenue. The contract will triple the amount of federal detainees at Newark-area jails and may bring up to $50 million a year to the county for the duration of the contract.
In July, the New York Times first reported Essex County seemed to favor Community Education Centers and said its owners have contributed to the county executive's campaign and are allied with Gov. Chris Christie.
Following the Times' story, U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) wrote a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton, calling for an investigation into the bid to ensure it "fully complies with all applicable law," according to Caley Gray, a spokesman for the senator.
Puglisi said DiVincenzo met Tuesday with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. He said county and federal officials discussed the vetting process for a new vendor when a bid is finalized, "ICE will still have to do its due diligence to make sure the facility meets the requirements."
Ort declined to elaborate on the contract and any details of a meeting.
DiVincenzo's plan for the 1,250 detainees is to house 800 of them at Essex County jail on Doremus Avenue in Newark. He originally planned to house the other 450 at Delaney Hall for the five-year period. However, under a 2008 contract the county has for 1,500 beds at Delaney Hall, it temporarily can house immigrant detainees there until December.
Puglisi said the county canceled the 450-bed bid because it would have to pay more to house detainees at Delaney Hall. The 2008 contract charged the county $71 a day to house prisoners at Delaney Hall and the proposed bid would have charged $88 a day.
The spokesman said, as of Tuesday evening, the county still plans to house the first immigrant detainees by Oct. 1.