FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – Action taken by New Jersey officials to reduce state and local police participation in federal immigration enforcement has been met with opposition from officials in Freehold Township.
Members of the Township Committee passed a resolution on March 26 declaring that Freehold Township is opposing policies to make New Jersey a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants.
In the resolution, municipal officials assert that Gov. Phil Murphy has declared New Jersey to be a sanctuary state that provides safe haven for illegal immigrants who are in violation of federal law.
The committee’s passage of the resolution follows a directive from New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. According to the resolution, the directive restricts the manner in which law enforcement agencies may and may not cooperate and comply with requests from United States agencies.
The directive, which is known as the Immigrant Trust Directive, was announced in November and became effective on March 15.
According to information provided by the state, the directive, among other things, prevents police officers in New Jersey from stopping, questioning, arresting, searching or detaining an individual based solely on actual or suspected immigration status; from asking the immigration status of any individual, unless doing so is necessary to the ongoing investigation of a serious offense and relevant to the offense under investigation; from participating in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) civil immigration enforcement operations; and from providing ICE with access to state or local law enforcement resources.
According to the state, the directive does not provide sanctuary to individuals who commit crimes in New Jersey; limit the ability of law enforcement officers to enforce state criminal law; restrict officers from complying with the requirements of federal law; prevent officers from enforcing valid court orders; or stop officers from assisting federal immigration authorities in response to exigent circumstances, among other things.
According to the Township Committee’s resolution, residents are concerned Murphy’s actions relating to immigration would, by extension, make Freehold Township a sanctuary community. The resolution states that taxpayers are concerned about New Jersey’s high taxes and about unfunded state and federal mandates that could be imposed on the township by the state and federal governments related to immigration.
The resolution states that New Jersey cannot ban ICE personnel from operating in the state and that the declaration of New Jersey as a sanctuary state could result in the federal government declaring New Jersey ineligible for federal grant dollars, even further reducing the return of federal tax money.
In addition to opposing the declaration of New Jersey as a sanctuary state, committee members are asking Congress and President Donald Trump to enact comprehensive, compassionate immigration reform to welcome everyone who wishes to emigrate legally from all countries and to provide a path toward citizenship for all illegal immigrants who have otherwise been law abiding residents in the United States.
In the overall interest of residents, the committee members said they denounce and oppose efforts by Murphy and the state Assembly to make New Jersey a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants and any unfunded state mandates that may be imposed on Freehold Township as a result of the governor’s plan; they oppose all efforts to create sanctuary cities or towns in New Jersey as proposed by Murphy; and they decreed that Freehold Township will not be designated a sanctuary township and will not budget money for related unfunded state or federal mandates.