Immigrant Rights Advocates Applaud New “Immigrant Trust Directive"

New directive will help prevent family separations and build trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement

NEW JERSEY -November 29th- Today, New Jersey Attorney General Gubir Grewal took important action to build immigrant communities’ trust with local and state law enforcement with the issuance of an “Immigrant Trust” Directive 2018-6 to replace AG Directive 2007-03. Immigrant Trust Directive 2018-6 is a great first step towards limiting law enforcement from engaging in the enforcement of civil immigration laws by limiting their voluntary interactions with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Under the Trump administration, the federal immigration enforcement agency has aggressively increased the arrests and detentions of immigrants of all statuses, creating a chilling effect in the community and leading to further distrust of all law enforcement and government agencies. New Jersey has seen a 42% increase in ICE arrests in 2017 as compared to previous years. While President Trump and ICE continue to promote racist rhetoric and anti-immigrant policies, this directive will make New Jersey a more fair and welcoming place for immigrants.

The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice and its member organizations applaud the comprehensive directive, which creates guidelines for law enforcement on how to interact with immigrant communities and limits their involvement in civil immigration enforcement. This directive will help police officers use their resources  to address and prevent crime in the communities under their jurisdictions. Most importantly, it will help prevent family separations based on immigration status.

The new directive limits the honoring of ICE administrative detainer requests with some exceptions based on a person’s criminal charge, past criminal conviction, or prior removal order. It also guides local law enforcement on how to handle other voluntary requests from ICE, which often leads to the separation of families across the state. The directive clarifies the role of local law enforcement in supporting survivors of crimes who may be seeking to adjust their immigration status.  

Additionally, the directive prohibits law enforcement from entering, renewing, modifying, or extending 287(g) contracts, which allow ICE to train and deputize police and county jail officers to check for immigration status, unless the Attorney General grants approval. Currently there are three counties in New Jersey with 287(g) contracts with ICE, specifically Monmouth, Cape May, and Salem.

As one of the most diverse states in the nation, this is an crucial first step towards making New Jersey the fair and welcoming state for all immigrants that we aspire to become. With this directive, Attorney General Grewal has given our local law enforcement the clear direction they need to uphold the U.S. Constitution and protect New Jerseyans successfully,” said Johanna Calle, Director, New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice. “We look forward to continuing to work with New Jersey leadership to ensure that federal civil immigration enforcement no longer negatively impacts immigrant communities in this great state.”

“Now more than ever, it’s up to the states to defend the rights guaranteed by our Constitution, and this directive demonstrates exactly what it looks like in action,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha. “Within our nation’s identity as a home for immigrants, New Jersey is its beating heart. More than the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island, this directive stands as the manifestation of our most important values: justice, fairness, and freedom.”

“AFSC applauds this long awaited change of policy from NJ's chief law enforcement officer. NJ is home to many immigrants, which means they should feel safe and trusting at all times. This new directive is a big step towards that. The Attorney General showed unparalleled commitment and leadership in working with immigrant community. We are proud to be working with his office," said Chia-Chia Wang, Organizing and Advocacy Director of American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program. "While this directive protects hundreds of thousands of people, there is still room for improvement. We look forward to continuing to work with the Attorney General, law enforcement, and state and local leadership to see that all immigrants in New Jersey are not subject to detention and deportation through interactions with local law enforcement."

"For years now, my family and I have lived with the fear that a simple traffic stop or any interaction with the local police could lead to deportation. As ICE arrests mothers and fathers across New Jersey in the middle of the night, when they are dropping their kids off at school or seeking justice in the courts, it is such a relief to know that our local New Jersey law enforcement agents will no longer do the work of immigration enforcement. We thank Attorney General Gurbir Grewal for his leadership in making New Jersey a more fair and welcoming state for all," said Olga Armas, Make the Road New Jersey member.   

"The new Attorney General directive promotes public safety and as it creates an environment where New Jersey’s immigrant communities are less afraid to cooperate with law enforcement. It also sends a clear message that New Jersey is taking significant steps to make our state fairer and more welcoming to our immigrant neighbors,” said Erika J. Nava, Policy Analyst, New Jersey Policy Perspective. “Research shows that states with fair and welcoming policies have lower crime rates, stronger economies with higher median household incomes, lower unemployment rates, and less poverty."

Our communities are more successful when everyone has the opportunity to participate fully, and Attorney General Grewal's directive is a critical step in ensuring that New Jersey is safe and welcoming for all of its residents. In New Jersey - and in states and localities across the country - our policies should strive to encourage all residents to safely interact with local law enforcement,” said Shiu-Ming Cheer, Senior Staff Attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. “We look forward to continuing to work with the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, AG Grewal, and others to build upon this progress to  ensure that immigrant families are able to live and work in their communities without fear.”

"This directive represents what people of good conscience hope for-- that legal practice can be aligned to what is right,” said Reverend Robin Tanner, Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit. Today the arc of the moral universe is bending a bit more towards justice."

"All state residents regardless of their documentation should be able to travel from town to town or county to county and trust that they will be treated equally under the law and this directive takes us closer to that day.  Trust is key in the relationship between police and communities. The Jewish tradition is crystal clear in its commitment to the rights of the stranger,” said Rabbi Elliot Tepperman, Bnai Keshet. “We are commanded to protect the stranger more times than any other commandment in the Torah. Bnai Keshet remembers our own history as immigrants and refugees seeking safety and we stand in solidarity with immigrants in this country."