It’s called Law Enforcement Directive 2018-6, more commonly referred to as the “Immigrant Trust Directive”, and it bars local law enforcement agencies from working with federal immigration officials.
And now the New Jersey Attorney General who issued that directive is about to be sued because of it.
On Wednesday, Ocean County General Counsel John C. Sahradnik was authorized to file a federal lawsuit against state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal for his directive that prevented local authorities from assisting ICE.
The action comes after employees from Ocean County Jail felt that they were ‘legally obligated’ to prevent ICE officials from accessing a computer database to look for inmates who may also be in violation of federal immigration law.
A spokesman for the AG’s office said that the lawsuit won’t hold any weight.
He said that the New Jersey Criminal Justice Act of 1970 gives the state attorney general a greater amount of discretion. The statute grants the authority to the attorney general to establish statewide law enforcement policies, including policies that promote the public trust in police, and encourage victims and witnesses to cooperate with law enforcement.
AG Grewal previously said that working with federal officials in this capacity would “essentially deputize our state’s police officers to act like ICE agents.” Grewal says that the measure was supposed to build trust between the immigrant communities and law enforcement for reporting and helping with criminal investigations. He says cooperation with ICE can only continue if he decides it serves “a valid law enforcement purpose.”
“Officials and residents may not instruct their law enforcement officers to ignore a law enforcement directive,” Grewal said following complaints about the measure.
“The attorney general’s authority — which has been used by prior attorney generals across administrations — extends to all 36,000 law enforcement officers in New Jersey, whether they work at New Jersey State Police, a local police department or a county sheriff’s office,” the AG’s spokesman said.
Grewal’s directive went into effect in March of 2019. NJ.com reported that at the time, sheriff’s offices in three New Jersey counties — Cape May, Monmouth and Salem — still had existing agreements with ICE under a program dubbed “287g,” which allows state and local law enforcement to “act as a force multiplier” for ICE. Several counties had earlier done away with the agreements, which in New Jersey mainly applied to officers in county jails.
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21 states take part in the 287g program. Officials say it “allows ICE to actively engage criminal alien offenders while incarcerated in a secure and controlled environment.”
AG Grewal recently went after two sheriff’s offices for “failing to inform the state’s attorney general that they are helping federal immigration authorities capture and deport undocumented migrants.”
So because law enforcement officers in New Jersey are doing their jobs by working with federal ICE agents to help arrest and deport people who are actively breaking the law, the attorney general, who is supposed to work to uphold the Constitution… threatened them.
We’re a nation of laws. We don’t get to pick and choose which ones we break and which we uphold.
In a pair of aggressive letters that Grewal’s office sent to the elected sheriffs in Monmouth and Cape May, officials claim the county sheriffs went directly against a directive that Grewal had issued which would aim to limit cooperation between New Jersey cops and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Grewal says that the departments’ failure to notify the AG’s office about the renewal directly shows that they “deliberately declined to disclose this information.”
Other anonymous members of New Jersey law enforcement have spoken with LET about the directive. They say that not only is Grewal misrepresenting the voice from his constituents, but he’s ignoring federal laws in favor of his own agenda. He shouldn’t be allowed to decide which laws are valid and which aren’t. They say he’s abusing his power and they want him gone.