By KATHY CHANG
METUCHEN — The Metuchen Police Department will not be used as a tool of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said Mayor Peter Cammarano in response to resident concerns over President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders to ban residents of seven Muslim-majority countries.
Resident Barbara Schmidt addressed her immigration concerns at a Borough Council meeting on Feb. 6.
“My daughter is an immigrant, a lot of my friends and neighbors are immigrants and some of the proposed executive orders that have not been signed yet that have been circulated directly affect our family and some of my friends,” she said.
Schmidt said she learned that Middlesex County is a sanctuary county, which means it will not honor an ICE detainer unless an individual is charged with a first or second degree crime, is identified as a known gang member or has been subject to a final order of removal by ICE.
She asked Cammarano and the council what the borough’s stance is on the president’s executive orders and if they would cooperate with ICE if they came looking for her family and friends.
Cammarano said on multiple levels it is similar to the way they have been operating for years in Metuchen by following the guidelines with the Middlesex County prosecutor and through the state Attorney General’s office, which issues all the directives that pertain to immigration.
“We are looking at the issue and we are continuing to look at it trying to sort exactly what is going on,” he said. “There have been some discussions individually about it here and what it means to us.”
Cammarano said if residents are worried that their police department is going to be used as a tool of the immigration department, it is not.
“I mean if someone has a detainer for a serious offense or an order to be deported, it’s a different issue, but certainly they are not going to be deputized as an arm of the immigration department,” he said.
Trump signed the executive orders on Jan. 27. A federal court struck down the executive orders eight days after they were signed.