✅Migrants from Texas have been bused to New Jersey

✅Hunterdon officials say the state proposes to process them at a closed facility

✅Gov. Murphy objected to a similar rumored plan for Atlantic City Airport

A plan is in the works to process migrants sent to New Jersey at a closed psychiatric hospital, Hunterdon officials say.

Hunterdon County Board of Commissioners Director Jeff Kuhl said the state is considering using the Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital, which was closed in 2012. The director did not provide details about the plan.

The immigrants who were bused earlier this month to New York City as part of the Texas governor's campaign highlighting a border crisis stopped at NJ Transit stations in Edison, Fanwood, Secaucus and Trenton where they were supposed to continue their trip into New York City by train. Gov. Phil Murphy said that some were met by relatives and remained in New Jersey.

The intention was to get around an executive order from Mayor Eric Adams regulating when the buses could enter Manhattan and how much notice they had to provide. New Jersey adopted a similar policy.

“Despite assurances to the contrary, such a move will likely overwhelm local resources in the area, including volunteer fire and EMS agencies," Kuhl said in a written statement. "In addition, there are no mass transit facilities located nearby the former Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital, which is located the top of a mountain, surrounded by forest."

Location of Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital in Glen Gardner and Lebanon
Location of Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital in Glen Gardner and Lebanon (Canva)

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Why are we calling them ‘migrants’?

News organizations like New Jersey 101.5 try to use neutral language to report the news and let readers and listeners judge the facts.

But finding the right words is not always easy, rarely leaves any side of a political question satisfied and is hardly ever permanent.

The Associated Press, which compiles a style guide for journalists, has not used “illegal alien” to describe people in the country illegally for many years. In 2021, the Biden administration followed suit and directed federal agencies to use “non-citizen” or “migrant.”

The AP defines “migrant” as “people who move from place to place for temporary work or economic advantage” and people “whose reason for leaving is not clear, or to cover people who may also be refugees or asylum-seekers.”

“Asylum-seekers” are people who “applied for asylum status, typically fleeing persecution and violence,” the AP says. A “refugee” was forced to leave their homeland “to escape war, persecution or natural disaster,” the AP says.

To be in the country illegally could mean crossing the border or flying in without authorization or in violation of civil or criminal laws, or overstaying a visa.

Migrant has become the go-to word to describe non-citizens who cross the border but whose status and motivations we don’t yet know for certain.

Objections about housing migrants in NJ

The objections are similar to those voiced by Gov. Phil Murphy and a group of Atlantic County politicians about a rumored plan to bring migrants to Atlantic City International Airport in September. The plan did not materialize.

Murphy's office referred questions to State Police and the Office of Emergency Management.

State Sen. Doug Steinhardt (R-Hunterdon) echoed Kuhl's concerns about a strain on resources if the plan comes to fruition.

"The impractical and illegal placement of undocumented migrants, especially in areas that lack the infrastructure, restricts services that our constituents rely on and I will continue to advocate against that approach. It’s time the president and governor do their jobs and address this emergency before it’s too late," Steinhardt said.

The hospital located off Route 31 in Glen Gardner Borough and Lebanon Township stopped admitting patients in 2012 after being closed by then-Gov. Chris Christie. The 325 acres that surround the facility are a preserve under the New Jersey Natural Lands Trust.

In 2018, lawmakers proposed reopening the hospital to relieve overcrowding at other facilities, according to NJ Spotlight News.

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