Immigrant Rights Advocates Applaud Attorney General Grewal’s Termination of all 287(g) Agreements in New Jersey

Immigrant Rights Advocates Applaud Attorney General Grewal’s Termination of all 287(g) Agreements in New Jersey  and Denounce the Addition of Harmful Carve-Outs To the Immigrant Trust Directive

With the end of all 287(g) ICE deputization contracts, New Jersey continues to build trust with immigrant communities and improve public safety for all residents. However, the addition of policy carve-outs to the Immigrant Trust Directive goes against the intent of the directive.

NEW JERSEY -- September 27th, 2019 -- Today, New Jersey Attorney General Grewal directed all state, county and local law enforcement agencies to end all 287(g) agreements with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) within seven days. 287(g) agreements deputize local law enforcement to perform civil immigration enforcement using local and state resources for federal purposes. The elimination of 287(g) agreements with ICE will increase public safety across the state by building trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement officers. Additionally, local and state law enforcement resources can be used to address local public safety rather than federal civil immigration enforcement. 

The announcement of the termination of all 287(g) ICE agreements statewide also came with changes to the Immigrant Trust directive including the addition of gun offenses and simple assault domestic violence to the list of serious crimes in which local law enforcement may alert immigration officials of an individual's immigration status. Advocates are continuing to urge the Attorney General to eliminate any exceptions that allow for local law enforcement to participate in immigration enforcement which only help ICE fill up detention centers and separate families in New Jersey. Regardless of immigration status, an individual should be allowed due process to prove their innocence or to serve their time. 

The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice and its members applaud the termination of all 287(g) agreements but urge the Attorney General to allow immigrants to have access to their constitutional right to due process.

Immigrant rights advocates released the following statements.

 Erika Nava, Policy Analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP) said

"New Jersey's immigrants make major contributions to the state's communities and economy every single day. Now, more than two years into the Trump administration, immigrant families are at increased risk of being separated, detained, and deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), sometimes with the help of local law enforcement. Across the nation, the data shows communities are safer with policies that limit ICE enforcement, with crime lower in areas with fair and welcoming policies, with 35.5 fewer crimes per 10,000 people.”  

Nicole Miller, Legal Services Director, American Friends Service Committee -Immigrant Rights Project said,

“While we applaud the Attorney General’s decision to end 287g agreements in New Jersey, it is troubling that he has at the same time diluted the Immigrant Trust Directive and with that has eroded protections for immigrants.  It is the separation of families that undermines public safety. The detention centers in New Jersey and across the country are filled with people who have been torn from their families and communities by ICE.” 

Johanna Calle, director of New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice said,

“With the elimination of all  287(g) agreements, New Jersey stands as a leader in the nation for fair and welcoming policies that help keep families together and build trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement. Regardless of a person’s status or criminal charge, deportation, detention, and family separation do not bring justice.” 

Humberto Cantero, member of Make the Road Jersey who was detained for a year and separated from U.S. citizen children through a 287g program in Monmouth County said, 

“No one should be afraid that a simple traffic stop, like the one I experienced, will lead to detention and deportation. When police and corrections officers are deputized to do the work of ICE it undermines the trust that we in the community have for our local law enforcement officers. I was detained for a year after being stopped for a simple driving infraction in Monmouth.  By ending 287g programs in New Jersey, the Attorney General is making us all safer. On behalf of myself, my family, and members of Make the Road New Jersey, I thank the Attorney General for taking a stand and protecting New Jersey families like mine.” 

ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha said,

“Today in New Jersey, the line between local law enforcement and federal immigration priorities got even brighter. It isn’t an exaggeration to call our state’s abolition of 287(g) agreements groundbreaking through the lens of immigrants’ rights and public safety, not just in New Jersey, but throughout the United States. We also continue to believe that having exceptions to the directive and adding new carve-outs for certain offenses conflicts the Immigrant Trust Directive’s underlying intent: to clearly separate of local law enforcement duties from federal immigration functions. Above all, we know that everyone is safer when community members can approach law enforcement without fear that even a routine interaction could bring devastating consequences on themselves or their families.”

Brian Lozano, Community Organizer and Policy Director Wind of the Spirit,

“The fear of detention and separation of families  is at the forefront of our community’s minds. When our state government draws a line between what police are required to do and what they are not allowed to do, this not only helps law enforcement to build trust with the immigrant community, but it also helps community based organizations and state agency’s to do their jobs. When the state is explicit on these demarcations, there is a healthy ripple effect on other public projects and public sphere, such as census engagement and worker’s rights. Wind of the Spirit applauds the Attorney General and his office for making this Directive ever clearer.”