Fair and Welcoming New Jersey

Bring Trust Back

In 2020, NJAIJ urges our state to continue adopting policies to ensure our state becomes a Fair and Welcoming state, establishing clear separations between our state resources and federal immigration enforcement. This includes declining to cooperate with ICE requests to detain an individual unless ICE provides a judicially-issued warrant, and declining to use local resources to facilitate ICE enforcement such as access to databases, public facilities, or schools. ICE should not be allowed to enter courts across the state to conduct federal enforcement activities. Additionally, New Jersey should legislate the Immigrant Trust Directive to ensure local resources are only used to address local law enforcement needs and all immigrants can seek help from their local police officers in times of need.

When local law enforcement voluntarily cooperates with or works on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), significant gaps in trust and cooperation grow between immigrant communities and the police. When there are close ties between local law enforcement and ICE, immigrants are less likely to report crimes, act as witnesses in criminal investigations and prosecutions, or provide intelligence to law enforcement. Better community policing depends on building trust with every community.

In November 2018, Attorney General Grewal announced the "Immigrant Trust" Directive. Implemented in March 2019, the directive limits local and state law enforcement from inquiring about immigration status and reporting, notifying or voluntarily cooperating with ICE in most cases. The directive helps to develop community trust with local law enforcement by creating a clear, bright line between local law enforcement and federal immigration agents. Federal law does not require states to aid ICE enforcement actions and New Jersey - and its localities - should not be in the business of immigration enforcement. In 2019, AG Grewal further updated the directive to immediately end all 287(g) contracts with the federal government that to deputize local law enforcement to perform immigration law enforcement functions.

Ending Unconstitutional Detention of Immigrants

Read our Ending Immigration Detention Platform here.

Currently, three counties – Bergen, Essex, and Hudson, have entered into lucrative Intergovernmental Service Agreements (IGSA) through the rental of county jail space to ICE for immigration detention. These types of contracts undermine the criminal justice system and erode the community’s trust in local police while using county resources and time to detain immigrants on behalf of the federal government. Such agreements also open localities to liabilities due to possible violations of the civil rights of those detained. The due process and civil rights of community members, immigrants, and nonimmigrant, are often violated due to substandard conditions and deteriorating services.

NJAIJ urges counties and localities to oppose all IGSA contracts with ICE and encourages the state to do everything in its power to incentivize localities not to contract with ICE. Additionally, New Jersey should have a detention oversight committee that ensures that the conditions and services for all detainees in state and county jails adhere to human rights standards and maintain the dignity of those currently held in facilities paid by taxpayers.

Take Action to demand the release of all detainees to protect from risk of Covid19 outbreak

Tell ICE officials, county officials, and private detention officers to protect the American public health and the health and well-being of detainees and those incarcerated by adequately testing and releasing all. Click through the links on this page to take action on each set of officials responsible for the people detained in these facilities. 

Universal Representation - Due Process for All

Immigrants who are facing immigration deportation proceedings are not guaranteed free legal representation because immigration proceedings are civil, not criminal. While Governor Murphy has allocated a limited amount to go towards Universal representation of New Jersey immigrant detainees, it is far from enough to ensure all detainees have the representation they need. This violates immigrants’ due process and keeps people in detention for long periods of time. Most immigrants who face court hearings without representation lose their case and low-income immigrants are less likely to be able to afford representation. States like New York and major cities across the country have already implemented public legal defense programs to represent immigrants who can’t afford legal counsel.

NJAIJ calls upon our state to prioritize due process and rule of law by fully funding a statewide legal counsel program to provide universal representation in civil proceedings to those who cannot afford it. This will prevent families from being separated due to inability to pay an attorney.