What to Know
- New Jersey's attorney general ordered two county sheriffs Friday to stop providing help to federal immigration authorities
- This is the latest skirmish over a state directive issued last spring that largely barred such cooperation
- The directive bars local law enforcement officers from participating in civil immigration enforcement operations conducted by
New Jersey's attorney general ordered two county sheriffs Friday to stop providing help to federal immigration authorities, in the latest skirmish over a state directive issued last spring that largely barred such cooperation.
The directive bars local law enforcement officers from participating in civil immigration enforcement operations conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. It prohibits them from questioning or arresting anyone based solely on suspected immigration status, or asking a person's immigration status unless it's necessary in investigating a serious offense.
The policy drew strong pushback from ICE and from some county law enforcement officials in New Jersey. Two of the latter, the sheriffs in Cape May and Monmouth counties, are the only ones currently with agreements with ICE, called 287(g) agreements.
The agreements "undermine public safety" and discourage people from reporting crimes, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Friday.
"In an average week in New Jersey, 2,400 people are arrested," he said. "To prosecute those crimes we need victims and witnesses to come forward."
In an emailed statement, Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden called Friday's directive "a disappointing day for law enforcement" and vowed to fight back.
"We shall continue to pursue legal remedies to this directive, which deprives Monmouth County of the ability to identify individuals who have committed crimes and are here illegally," he said.
Critics of the directive have said it makes New Jersey a "sanctuary state" and makes it easier for violent criminals to be released from custody before they can be handed over to immigration authorities. Grewal said Friday the directive already gives local authorities the ability to identify the most dangerous offenders to ICE for detention and possible deportation.
The revised directive issued Friday also adds additional gun offenses and domestic violence offenses to the list of crimes that trigger notification to ICE, Grewal said.
Messages left with ICE and the Cape May County sheriff weren't immediately returned Friday.
Grewal's announcement came a day after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested more than 50 people in New Jersey in a weeklong action it said was aimed at "public safety threats" who had been released by local authorities.