PATERSON, NJ- Just hours after announcing a new set of directives establishing rules on how local and state law enforcement officers will perform their duties as it relates to immigrant populations, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal was in Paterson on Thursday to speak about a “unique moment” the state is in when it comes to relations between police and the communities they serve.
Saying emphatically that our state will not fall victim to the sort of “rhetoric and policies that make immigrants feel unwelcome” that he believes are emanating from the Trump Administration, Grewal suggested that the new policies prove that it is possible to be both pro immigrant and pro law enforcement.
“We are not here to do your bidding,” is the clear message that the state’s top law enforcement officer said New Jersey is sending to Washington D.C. before adding that law enforcement in this state, including the Paterson Police Department and Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, the top officials of which were at both Thursday sessions, have worked to hard to “build trust.”
“We are a city of immigrants and a city of laws,” Mayor Andre Sayegh said at the outset of the first session held at the New Roberto Clemente School. “We want all residents to feel safe,” he continued, speaking to the often reported concerns of many immigrants that overly-zealous federal immigration officials will detain them while performing any number of daily duties such as walking children to school.
Several dozen residents were in attendance between the two sessions with Grewal, following brief comments related to his office’s top priorities which include battling opioids, reducing violent crime, improving police and community relations, and “keeping the Trump Administration in check,” nimbly fielding questions on a wide range of topics.
Among the topics that came up during the one-hour sessions were the potential for creating opportunities for artists to collaborate with the Attorney General’s Office, enforcing a code of conduct related to how police officers interact with the public, bail reform measures, and expungement of past criminal histories.
Decrying the term “sanctuary city” as a one that he claimed is used to “create fear and divide communities,” Grewal was emphatic in stating that the new policies that were announced in the shadow of Ellis Island, the entry point to America for nearly 17 million immigrants, do not mean that undocumented residents that commit crimes won’t be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law.
“If you commit a crime you are not getting a free pass because of your immigration status,” he said.
Apparent attempts to prevent an population count in the 2020 Census through the addition of a question regarding immigration status and the Trump Administration’s failure to deliver federal funding for local law enforcement efforts were also discussed on Thursday with Grewal reminding attendees that the State of New Jersey is a currently participating in lawsuits on both.
“Tonight Attorney General Grewal clearly articulated what we have been saying since the first days of our Administration, that a safer community starts with trust between law enforcement and residents,” Sayegh told TAPinto Paterson at the conclusion of the second session. “That’s what we are committed to in Paterson, no matter where our people hail from or what ward they now call home.”
Know a story we should share with readers? Email editor Steve Lenox and tell him about it.