Englishtown council opposes directive from Attorney General

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ENGLISHTOWN – Members of the Englishtown Borough Council have passed a resolution opposing the Immigrant Trust Directive, which was issued by New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and became effective in March.

Grewal’s directive limits the types of voluntary assistance the officers of state, county and local law enforcement agencies may provide to federal civil immigration authorities, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

According to the state, the directive, among other things, prevents police officers 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 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.

The council’s resolution states Englishtown’s support for Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden’s continuing cooperation with ICE agents. The Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office has been participating in a federal program referred to as 287(g) at the Monmouth County jail.

The program, which is an agreement between ICE and the sheriff’s office, delegates nominated, trained, certified and authorized personnel from the sheriff’s office to perform certain immigration enforcement functions.

As a result of the attorney general’s directive, state, county and local law enforcement officers are prohibited from entering into, modifying or extending a 287(g) agreement with ICE.

The Englishtown council’s resolution states that the directive’s rationale is to draw a clear line between enforcement of state laws by New Jersey’s law enforcement officers and enforcement of federal laws by federal immigration enforcement officers, which is intended to maintain trust for local police in immigrant communities.

In response, the resolution states that a central precept of immigrants becoming American citizens is the oath of allegiance to the United States, compliance with the nation’s laws and respect for its institutions, and that no immigrant legally entering the country should fear federal, state or local law enforcement personnel as they all exist to serve and protect the public and ensure peace and public order in communities.

The resolution states that all elected and appointed state and local officials swear an oath to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution and the New Jersey Constitution and all of the laws contained in those documents.

“It is the considered opinion of the mayor and council that a directive issued by the highest law enforcement official of the state prohibiting local and county law enforcement officials from duties is inappropriate and exceeds the lawful authority of the Attorney General,” borough officials said in the resolution.

“Continued cooperation between local and federal law enforcement agencies is in the public interest, necessary and proper to the fair administration of justice in New Jersey,” Englishtown’s officials said.

Councilman Gregory Wojyn said the council’s resolution would not be able to directly impact Grewal’s directive, but would demonstrate the governing body’s position on the issue.

“The attorney general forced the sheriff’s hand,” Wojyn said. “This is so we are on the record.”