Government

County Adopts ICE Policy; Activists Say It’s a Good Start

bd1bfe1a990a211c5785_ice_adoption_3.jpg
Residents and activists read Middlesex County's policy last week on how its jail and sheriff's department must handle interactions with federal immigration authorities.
bd1bfe1a990a211c5785_ice_adoption_3.jpg

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — After many impassioned pleas from residents and at least one rewrite, the Board of Chosen Freeholders has adopted a policy barring Middlesex County officers from aiding federal immigration authorities in most cases.

The board voted 6-0 to approve the policy on Thursday, June 1, in New Brunswick. A few dozen pro-immigrant activists there applauded the move. But they also asked county officials to consider implementing even stronger protections.

As they worked to write the policy, Middlesex officials said they hoped it would safeguard both undocumented immigrants and the county from potential legal battles.

Sign Up for E-News

“This is the intent of the current freeholder board, and hopefully it will remain this way,” Freeholder Shanti Narra, who led the creation of the new policy, said during the meeting.

The policy governs interactions between the county’s adult jail and sheriff’s department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of Homeland Security charged with deporting undocumented immigrants.

Middlesex County has one of the state’s largest populations of undocumented immigrants, activists said. New Brunswick alone is estimated to harbor at least 20,000, they said.

“It’s a good sign overall,” Tracy Cangiano, who lives in Highland Park, said of the policy “and I hope that after there’s an affirmative vote on this, that these policies and procedures that keep getting talked about … continue to be worked on.”

The policy forbids the jail and the sheriff’s department from complying with 48-hour civil detainer requests. ICE agents submit these forms when a jail or law enforcement agency has in custody someone the feds suspect of being in the country illegally. The requests are voluntary, which means local agencies may ignore them, according to the county.

But two situations exist in which county staffers must honor the ICE’s detention requests, according to the policy.

That includes when the individual in question has been convicted of a first- or second-degree “serious offense,” or the equivalent in another jurisdiction, the policy states. More than 20 crimes fit this bill—from murder, aggravated assault and arson to recruiting gang members, selling drugs and human trafficking.

The other scenario in which county officers must hold people on behalf of ICE is when the agents present a final order of deportation signed by a federal judge, according to the policy.

A young man speaks in favor of policies and protocols protecting undocumented immigrants.

What has perhaps energized activists most in recent weeks is ICE’s ability to interview suspected undocumented immigrants at the county jail.

In the policy, the freeholders said they will continue to grant ICE access to the facility. But jail staffers will provide targeted individuals with a “written fact sheet” outlining their rights prior to the interview, according to the policy.

Freeholders said they also intend to launch a “language line” to ensure inmates can understand the information, even if they can’t read. That protocol, however, isn’t in the policy, a fact that troubled some residents.

Sheriff’s officers may not “in any way assist” ICE employees in detaining someone who’s not in county custody, according to the policy. The exceptions? If it’s “necessary” to arrest someone for a “crime in progress” or in the “immediate interest of public safety,” according to the policy.

This became another pressure point for immigrants’ rights advocates, who claimed that at least one Middlesex County sheriff’s officer helped ICE detain a man in the courthouse this spring. County officials said they’re looking into the incident, but they had yet to have interviewed the employee in question.

Speakers wondered whether “public safety” was too broad a term, while county officials said the condition is necessary to maintain order.

Some members of the public who spoke took issue with 48-hour detainers being granted based on prior convictions.

Convicts are capable of rehabilitating, they said, and society already has protections against dangerous individuals. Some argued that the setting such boundaries makes the policy too vague.

“I am concerned that this policy classifies people as deserving of constitutional protections and people who are not,” one woman said.

County officials said the benchmark isn’t arbitrary. They based the criteria on crimes that the federal government considers an automatic cause for deportation, Narra said.

She added that each listed offense—like drugs, for instance—is serious.

“You would have to have an awful lot of weed,” she said in response to a resident who was concerned about small amounts of marijuana or cocaine tearing addicts or recreational users from their families.

Lawyers and leaders for several activist groups, like the state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, Food and Water Watch and the Alliance for Immigrant Justice, praised the policy during the meeting. But they added that, at least in the eyes of the county’s undocumented population and its activists, the adopted policy should serve as a starting point, not a finish line.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Plainfield

You Meet the Most Amazing People on the Trail

The weather cooperated this weekend, so I went for more than one hike. After all, there are only just over fifty days before my walk to Maine commences, so why not.

This Saturday, some friends dragged me away from housecleaning (thank you!) for a quick jaunt through Watchung Reservation.  While we were there, we ran into two individuals from Westfield; the cosplayers introduced themselves ...

Go Take a Walk

Friday, March 30 was Take a Walk in the Park Day, so I did.  I really didn't have an excuse to not do so; the sun was shining, I had the day off, and I had no plans for the rest of the day.  So after a session with Abbe, my trainer at LifeTime Fitness, I made the short trip to Lake Surprise in Watchung Reservation. 

As I made my way around the lake, it was easy to see how ...

Holy Savior Academy Excels in the Arts - Annual Spring Musical, Art Show to Take Place in May

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The students and staff at Holy Savior Academy, a pre-K3 through eighth grade AdvancedED accredited Middlebrook Deanery Catholic School located in South Plainfield, have been busy gearing up for two widely anticipated spring events. In May, the drama club will present its 4th annual Spring Spectacular Musical and a school wide art show will also take ...

Six MS-13 Members with NJ Ties Indicted on Gang-Related Charges

April 26, 2018

A grand jury in Newark, New Jersey returned a seven-count superseding indictment today charging six members of the violent street gang MS-13 with various gang-related offenses, including racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, and conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, announced Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the ...

Politics IS Government in Union County

April 22, 2018

After Bruce Patrson of Garwood was stopped from speaking at the Union County freeholder meeting of March 22 regarding the politics behind refusing to give the party line to a sitting freeholder I thought this brazen suppression of free speech could not go unanswered. A the the April 19 meeting I answered with these comments.

After ten years of following government in Union County I conclude ...

Fallen Officer Identified. ‘A Sad Day for Paterson’ as Police Officer Loses Life in Car Accident

April 23, 2018

UPDATE- Several sources familiar with Sunday’s tragic accident have identified the fallen officer as Tamby Yagan, a 13-year veteran of the Paterson Police Department.

PATERSON, NJ- On what Paterson Superior Officers Association President Mason Maher called “a sad day for Paterson” a city police officer lost his life on Sunday after being involved in a motor vehicle ...

Springtime Advice from Rapps Pharmacy

April 17, 2018

It may not feel like spring, but that spring weather is right around the corner and so is allergy season!  Here is some friendly advice from Rapps Pharmacy, your neighborhood pharmacy:

Combating the Allergy Season

As seasons change and pollen counts rise, more and more people clash with the aggravating symptoms of seasonal allergies. Beginning in February and lasting into early summer, ...

Featured Business: NJ Printing & Embroidery LLC

Featured Business: NJ Printing & Embroidery LLC

Nestled in the heart of Plainfield is NJ Printing & Embroidery, a family-owned business providing digital screen printing and embroidery for custom shirts, caps and other items.

The company also offers custom printed business cards, fliers, banners and storefront vinyls, and can provide expert graphic art design upon request.

Eric ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse

By LIZ KEILL

MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead Books, 2017)

 

I wanted to like Into the Water by Paula Hawkins because I had enjoyed her previous novel, The Girl on the Train, which was a suspenseful thriller. However, when I finished reading the first part of the Into the Water, I realized that I had not absorbed anything that was happening in the story. I blamed myself for not paying ...

Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo

Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo (Citadel Press, 1970)

 

How does a reviewer do justice to a book called “the great American novel”? I first read Johnny Got His Gun during the Viet Nam war, when young people, nationwide, were protesting fighting in a war that was a senseless waste of life; a war in which the United States had no business participating.

The Truth About My Reading

The Truth About My Reading

I didn't get my Composition and Literature teacher at Montclair State College at all. A crusty old man with a dour disposition, Mr. Smith always seemed angry and rude. He appropriately intimidated freshmen, even me, an English major, who found this common core course beneath my dignity. Frankly, as a graduate of Highland Park High School, and a survivor of Mrs.

The German Girl

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa (Washington Square Press, 2016)

For each of the twelve million victims murdered during World War II there is a gutwrenching story to be told. I have read hundreds of memoirs, biographies, plays, and novels that recount the stories of the martyrs; some are exceptional, some are fair. The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa, an award-winning journalist, ...

The Skin Collector

The Skin Collector by Jeffery Deaver (Grand Central, 2014)

Jack the Ripper. The Boston Strangler. The Texas Watchtower Killer. The Zodiac Killer. The Angel of Death. The Butcher. BTK. The police and the press have a long history of dubbing serial killers with names that catch the attention of the public, usually having the effect of instilling greater fear and selling more print media so that ...

Queen Mary and the Cruiser

Queen Mary and the Cruiser by David A. Thomas and Patrick Holmes (Naval Institute Press, 1997)

“Had the forenoon watch and after eating went out onto the fo'c'sle. Just arrived at the top of the ladder by the PO's heads when the wave hit me---waist high---and knocked me over. Looking astern---through the bulkhead door which was open, saw the stern of a ship sticking up out of ...