Activists call for Rensselaer County Jail to end contract to house ICE detainees

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TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – With their chants and signs, demonstrators made clear the United States Immigration Customs and Enforcement is not welcome in Rensselaer County. The Rensselaer County Jail has a contract to temporarily house ICE detainees before deportation.

Some demonstrators say they would like to see ICE deported from Rensselaer County, not immigrants. “We are fighting for the Dignity not Detention Act in the New York Legislature so that no county jail can enter in agreements with ICE and inflict this torture,” says one demonstrator.

Rensselaer County is the only county in New York State which has entered a contract to temporarily house the agency’s detainees. Last month, a complaint was filed against the jail for its alleged handling of women in federal custody. The woman, known as “Ms. Q”, alleges physical abuse and medical neglect at the facility.

Ms. Q’s sister spoke at the demonstration outside of the Rensselaer County Public Safety Building saying, “all I asked for today is to please, please release her…”

Rensselaer County Sheriff Patrick Russo entered into the ICE contract in 2018. At the demonstration, there were calls for the sheriff’s resignation.

News10 reached out to the sheriff’s office in September for comment on the complaint, his office says, “the female inmate’s main complaint… was she did not want to be quarantined upon arrival to the facility…” The sheriff’s office says the woman was given a grievance form but later state she no longer wished to further the grievance.

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