U.S. Department of Justice Joins Court Action to Lift Police Restriction

NEWTON, NJ — Sheriff Michael Strada today praised the U.S. Department of Justice for entering a federal District Court lawsuit against Governor Phil Murphy and New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal challenging reckless and irresponsible rules they established in 2018 that restrict local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officers in reporting and deporting illegal immigrants.

“I applaud U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Craig Carpenito, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, for supporting local law enforcement with this action and challenging the unconstitutional sanctuary state policies of Governor Murphy and his state Attorney General. Their sanctuary polices endanger our communities and render local law enforcement unable to conduct their sworn duty to protect the citizens of New Jersey without fear of official retaliation under the Murphy administration’s politically motivated “Immigrant Trust Directive of 2018,” said Sheriff Strada.

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Sheriff Strada, a vocal critic of the directive, had written U.S. Attorney General Barr in May 2019 requesting federal guidance on how to deal with the Murphy administration’s sanctuary state policies. He also reported on an unconstitutional order Grewal issued on May 17, 2019 barring Sussex County’s freeholders and county clerk from placing a non-binding public question on the ballot asking whether the Sheriff should obey the Murphy administration’s sanctuary state directive or follow federal immigration laws adopted by Congress, followed by successive Presidents and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.  

The letter from Sheriff Strada stated in part:

“On behalf of myself and several members of the Freeholder Board, I am requesting your guidance in this matter.  As the chief law enforcement officer of the United States of America, I believe that law enforcement in New Jersey should be following the federal government in matters of a federal nature.  Protecting the borders of the United States, as well as immigration and citizenship (and the criminal laws governing same), are federal matters and not the purview of the states. After all, we are Americans first and foremost, and not the citizens of 50 individual nation-states.”

Sheriff Strada said preventing his officers, the county jail and local police from cooperating with ICE will only serve to aid human trafficking and the exploitation of women and children as well as the criminal importation of illegal firearms, narcotics, and opioids.

“The Sanctuary State idea will lead to legal anarchy as well as aiding organized crime and terrorism.  It is nothing more than a dangerous and illogical fashion statement,” Strada wrote in his letter to Barr.

The U.S. Justice Department called the Murphy administration directive unconstitutional in court papers filed in U.S. District Court, where both Cape May and Ocean counties filed lawsuits seeking to overturn the directive.

“I will always put public safety ahead of politics.” Sheriff Strada stated.