Justice Department Sues New Jersey Over Immigration Policy

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by Bethany Blankley


The U.S. Department of Justice has sued the State of New Jersey, Gov. Philip Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal for refusing to provide information to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) related to the immigration status and release dates of individuals in their custody.

The move is an attempt by the Trump Administration to reign in so-called sanctuary states and cities that have refused to enforce federal immigration laws.

“Today is a significant escalation in the federal government’s efforts to confront the resistance of sanctuary cities,” U.S. Attorney General William Barr said. “But by no means do the efforts outlined above signify the culmination of our fight to ensure the rule of law, to defend the Constitution and to keep Americans safe.”

The lawsuit challenges New Jersey Attorney General Law Enforcement Directive 2018-6, which prohibits state officials from sharing information with ICE and requires New Jersey law enforcement to “promptly notify a detained individual, in writing and in a language the individual can understand” if ICE files an immigration detainer request for the individual.

According to the complaint, New Jersey officials failed to provide information regarding the release dates of illegal immigrants who had been charged with or convicted of crimes multiple times last year.

“New Jersey’s decision to obstruct federal immigration enforcement by refusing to provide such information is unlawful under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution,” the DOJ argues.

The complaint states that “Congress has exercised its authority to make laws governing the admission, presence, status, and removal of aliens within the United States by enacting various provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act … the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 … and other laws regulating immigration.

“Congress has also codified basic principles of cooperation and comity between state and local authorities and the United States. Among the tools DHS uses to facilitate the sort of cooperation that Congress contemplated between law enforcement agencies and federal immigration officials is the ‘detainer request.’”

The detainer request is used by DHS to arrest and detain individuals subject to removal or removal proceedings.

In November 2018, the N.J. Attorney General issued a directive, which became effective in March 2019 and revised again in September 2019. The directive prohibits law enforcement agencies from “providing notice of a detained individual’s upcoming release from custody” to assist “federal immigration authorities when the sole purpose of that assistance is to enforce federal civil immigration law.”

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Bethany Blankley is a contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “Phil Murphy” by Phil Murphy. CC BY 2.0.






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