New Jersey Demanded Its Counties End Their 287(g) Agreements. Three of Them Are Suing the State Instead

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal

Monmouth, Ocean, and Cape May Counties are suing the state of New Jersey over the Attorney General’s Directive, which placed limits on the amount of aid local law enforcements could use when cooperating with immigration authorities.

Titled the “Immigrant Trust Directive,” the policy put into place by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal most recently blocked Monmouth County from participating in a federal program that trains corrections officers to determine the immigration status of jail inmates and then flags them for federal action. An earlier state directive, handed down in September, seeks to prohibit the sheriff’s departments in Monmouth and Cape May Counties from continuing the 287g agreement that has allowed some of their officers to act as immigration agents in county jails. Monmouth and Cape May Counties both renewed for a decade despite Grewal’s directive. 

Angered over the fact that they can’t jail and hold people for ICE to deport them, the counties are moving towards suing the state to continue. It begs the question how much money does ICE give to allow constitutional rights to be revoked for undocumented individuals living in New Jersey? 

The Directive’s goal, according to Grewal, “is clear—to make it easier for New Jersey’s law enforcement officers to solve crimes and ensure the safety of all 9 million people in our state by building trust with our large and diverse immigrant communities. Because of the bright line between New Jersey law enforcement officers and federal civil immigration agents, immigrants can come forward as victims and witnesses of crimes without fear of reprisal.”

Monmouth County is arguing that it is unprecedented that state officials supersede federal law, as the AG’s directive runs counter to federal Department of Justice guidance. “We wanted someone in here to make sure Monmouth County is protected and do the right thing,” Freeholder Director Tom Arnone argued, “We have never had a period of time when the (New Jersey) attorney general has made a ruling over the DOJ. Right or wrong, we are obligated to do our due diligence.”

Not surprisingly, the arguments fall back onto a rhetoric of keep citizens safer, blaming the recent bail reform in place for possibly pushing out violent offenders that could otherwise be picked up by ICE. 

While state politicians and some residents claim that the agreements keep the Monmouth County residents safe, others are against continued cooperation. The idea that immigrants commit more violent crimes has proven time and again to be false, dredged up for the purpose of justifying ICE’s cruelty and encroachment of civil liberties. Increasingly, minor misdemeanors that would land a citizen with a ticket and an uncomfortable day at court are being used as justification to deport large populations in immigrant communities, both in the state and beyond. 

It is hypocritical that those counties, who proudly harken to their Italian, Irish and immigrant roots at the drop of a hat, would whoop and holler for the ability to throw those whose histories aligned with our own in prison indefinitely. Fleeing violence, economic hardship, and increasing poverty, they’ve come into this country – and this state – to make a better life for themselves.

Our families fled from the same. Fleeing economic hardships, famine, rising fascist governments and violence, they came to this country to make a better life. Now, in the face of Libertas, we’ve spit on them as violent offenders and gleefully watch them being separated from their families and loved ones. 

Have we no shame?

Never Again Action, Elizabeth, New Jersey, June 2019

(Photo Credit 1: Tariq Zehawi / Asbury Park Press) (Photo Credit 2: Facebook / Never Again Action)

New Jersey ended its contract with ICE: A week later the retaliation began

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announces new directive concerning collaboration with ICE

On Thursday, November 29, NJ State Attorney General Gurbir Grewalannounced the implementation of new guidelines in New Jersey’s cooperation with ICE. His new directives curtailed local police’s ability to inquire about someone’s immigration status and turn undocumented immigrants over to immigration officials for deportation. The AG said the policy shift is to ameliorate relations between police officials and the immigrant communities where they serve: “No law-abiding resident of this great state should live in fear that a routine traffic stop by local police will result in his or her deportation from this country.”

Yes, it is that easy for states and local municipalities and cities to end their cooperation with ICE. 

Under the new rules, New Jersey police cannot stop or detain anyone based on their immigration status, nor can they ask the immigration status of anyone unless it is part of an ongoing investigation into a serious criminal offense. Further, police cannot participate in ICE raids, and ICE cannot utilize state or local resources. 

The new policy has been the keystone of the Murphy administration, which has been working on revamping police guidelines regarding undocumented immigrants since shortly after he was elected, and said he would make New Jersey a “sanctuary state” during his campaign.

True to its authoritarian nature, a week later, in response to the new directives, ICE conducted “at-large” arrests. In one of the largest raids in the history of New Jersey, officials on Friday announced the arrest of 105 peopleover a five-day period. They began literally right after the Attorney General released the new directive.  

Led by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, the operationresulted in arrests across the state, including 24 in Hudson County, 10 in Middlesex County, 14 in Monmouth County, four in Bergen County, 11 in Passaic County and 6 in Essex County. Those arrested last week were citizens of Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Korea, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Taiwan, Trinidad and Venezuela. 

According to Carlos Rojas Rodriguez, a community organizer for Movimiento Cosecha, which lobbies for expanded rights for undocumented immigrants in the state, including access to driver’s licenses, the new arrests had to be connected to the directive, and called ICE a rogue agency: “It is a shame that while the new AG is trying to create trust between the immigrant community and law enforcement, the ICE director John Tsoukaris is trying to destroy that trust and criminalize immigrants across the state.”

Those arrested were people and citizens of the state of New Jersey, a state that, like New York, has a history of being a melting pot of immigrants, migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees fleeing economic depression, state-sanctioned violence, hoping for a better life for themselves and their children. Almost every resident shares their immigrant story of “Coming to America” with pride and reverence for their family members who made the journey. Those undocumented in the state are no exceptions.  

As a community, now, we must decide whether or not we are going to honor the memories of those who are coming as the descendants of immigrants ourselves, or as prejudiced individuals who have forgotten our collective history of migration. We must also  come to terms with the hypocrisy of the Trump administrationand ICE deportation machine, who would arrest undocumented immigrants in this state but leave those who benefit the Trump business alone to have their labor exploited. 

(Photo Credit: NorthJersey.com) (Video Credit: YouTube)

When you give little men power, they exploit the vulnerable

It has become an almost daily occurrence since Trump began his family separation policy last May: mothers and fathers taken away from their children, young boys and girls crying for their parents while border patrol chuckles in the background at the “orchestra;” the mystery of where young girls who were separated were being held and started the hashtag #wherearethegirls; and the horrific rampant abuse from Border Patrol Agents, both on the job and off. Between 2009 and 2014, the ACLU obtained documentation of nearly 30,000 pages of abuses by Border Patrol Agents.

Being called a “dog” or a “prostitute,” being beaten and threatened with rape, denied water and forced to stand naked in front of agents: these atrocities have happened to children, from the ages of 9 and 14. They come here scared, escaping violence and economic crisis. They are dehumanized and are considered contaminants in this country.

They are women and children. They are human beings.

A 4-year-old was sexually assaulted by a Texas policeman, who then threatened to have her undocumented mother deported to Guatemala if she reported him. A 6-year-old being abused sexually in detention was forced to sign a statement acknowledging that it was her responsibility to stay away from her abuser; she could only write the letter D to sign.


An employee in an Arizona facility housing migrant children was arrested for sexually molesting a 14-year-old girl. A Honduran woman identified as E.D, detained with her toddler, was sexually assaulted and was threatened with deportation if she reported her rapist. Recently, an ICE officer was apprehended and charged with murdering four women (all of whom were sex workers) and attempted murder of a fifth in Laredo, Texas. Less than 24 hours later, another officer was apprehended and charged with ten felony counts and one of incest in Medford, Oregon.

These trends are not indicative of a few bad apples that have seeped into the immigration system hellbent on doing harm. They are not ones that just slipped through the crack. These documents of abuse and murder, violence and degradation, are part of a larger culture of dehumanization of women and young children arrested and in detention. When people are not even considered people, when their humanity is stripped because of lies, of fear and of anger, then they become bodies that can be exploited by the scum and worst of this country; to be exploited by the little men.

When you ignore the truth and experiences of those fleeing violence in their home countries, believing migrants to being oxymoronically lazy and siphoning off government aid, and taking all our jobs, you remain complicit in the abuses that young children and migrants suffer after they are detained. You have wanted them to go away and now, not even considered human, you’ve doomed them to years of psychological trauma and fear. Would you wish that on your own children? On your sons? On your daughters? Would you wish that on a human being?

Is it easier to believe that those boys, girls, mothers and fathers fleeing economic injustice and violence are the root causes of America’s problems, over the idea that those wealthy elites in power have drained America’s once great resources and social safety nets through economic liberalization?

Open borders and the end of ICE does not bring crime and drugs and rapists. They are already in this country. And one of them sits in the highest office. It’s time to end the cruelty known as ICE.

 

(Photo Credit 1: Splinter / AP / Jeff Chiu) (Photo Credit 2: The Nation)