BARNEGAT/WARETOWN, NJ - Just about all municipalities plan ahead when it comes to dealing with routine matters at their Township Committee meetings. This month's Consent Agendas in both Barnegat and the Township of Ocean included a resolution supporting the intended lawsuit by the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders, challenging the Attorney General’s Immigration Trust Directive.

In Barnegat, Resolution 2019–275 was initially separated from the Consent Agenda for discussion. No one voiced any objections or shared their feelings concerning the Committee's proposal.

Both communities unanimously passed the resolution supporting the County Freeholders’ intention to file a lawsuit.

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At the end of last year, Gurbir S. Grewal, New Jersey’s Attorney General, advised state law enforcement chief executives of the directive he termed as “strengthening trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities.”

The advisory memo reminded New Jersey law enforcement officers that it is their job to “protect the public investigating state criminal offenses and enforcing state criminal laws. They are not responsible for enforcing civil immigration violations except in narrowly defined circumstances.”

According to Grewal, “Such responsibilities instead fall to the federal government and those operating under its authority.”

A news release issued by the Attorney General’s office provides more detailed information about the directive, which went into effect in March of 2019.

One of the new rules stops law enforcement officials from providing Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE,) with access to state or local law enforcement resources, including equipment, office space, databases, or property.”

As a result of the directive, leaders at the Ocean County Correctional Facility have prevented ICE agents from using their computers to cross-reference inmates to determine their legal immigration status. Meanwhile, elected county officials object to the change in procedures.

The Ocean County Freeholders first brought up their intention to challenge the Immigration Trust Directive at their July 11, 2019 meeting.  A legal complaint has not been filed yet.

Meanwhile, the Township of Stafford has approved a resolution supporting the proposed lawsuit by the Ocean County Board of Freeholders. The Township of Berkeley’s resolution authorizes their Township Attorney to join in litigation initiated by County Board of Freeholders challenging the directive.

Stephanie A. Faughnan is a local journalist and Director of Writefully Inspired, a professional writing and resume service. Feel free to contact her at sfaughnan@tapinto.net.