NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Immigrants do not need to fear in New Providence, Mayor Al Morgan and the council members stated at the Monday, April 3 council meeting. 

The issue was brought up by borough resident David Graepel, who came to the council to speak on behalf of undocumented immigrants. Graepel stated that the recent policies by President Donald Trump are “making people very nervous.” He went further claiming that immigrants are afraid to go to work in New Providence for fear of being apprehended by borough police. He asked the council to ensure that the borough “protects all people.” Graepel stated that some citizens of color are now carrying their passports in case they are asked their citizenship status. 

Morgan explained that borough officials follow the constitution and state law, as they have taken an oath to do so. However, the police are not going around the town from house to house looking for illegal immigrants, he said. On the other hand borough officials are not hindering federal or state agencies looking for criminal suspects. 

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If someone is mowing a lawn or washing dishes in a restaurant, they are not committing a crime. You are making an issue of something that is not based in reality, Morgan told Graepel. Other councilmen also denied the claim that borough police are targeting undocumented immigrants. Councilman Jim Madden referred to a Youtube video message by West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi who explained the policies in New Jersey when it comes to immigrants. These policies apply to New Providence, as well. 

In the video message Parisi points out that there is no legal definition for “sanctuary city”. “Some have defined it as a declaration in which a municipality chooses not to actively seek immigration status of its residents. Others have defined it where a municipality commits to protecting or shielding its citizens, who may be illegal immigrants, from federal or state agencies,” Parisi said.

“The first definition is already the governing principle in New Jersey for local law enforcement as directed by the New Jersey Attorney General’s guidelines. These guidelines are clear and have afforded many protections to immigrants for years. Our police department, or any local law enforcement agency in New Jersey, cannot inquire about immigration status unless a resident is arrested for the commission of a felony or is arrested for drunk driving. There are no additional provisions in which we can, or will, inquire about immigration status.” For example, “a resident’s immigration status is not asked when issuing permits, parking tickets, moving violations, when called to a home for any reason, when responding to a motor vehicle accident, if a resident is a victim of a crime or any other circumstance in which a resident may encounter our police department or any other municipal department,” Parisi explained.

Regarding the second definition “we do not have the authority to prevent federal or state agencies from carrying out their responsibilities or acting on open warrants in their pursuit of individuals. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has required that local law enforcement work cooperatively in the execution of an arrest warrant for decades and our police department has carried out this responsibility frequently over the years. It is not realistic to ask local law enforcement to openly disobey the law nor is it responsible,” Parisi stated.