September 27, 2019

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal today announced amendments to the New Jersey Immigrant Trust Directive that will end wholesale New Jersey’s participation in 287(g) agreements, which invite discrimination by deputizing local law enforcement to become federal immigration agents. The changes to the directive also add two carve-outs to the concerning list of exceptions in which law enforcement can ask about immigration status.

New Jersey is one of the first states to sever ties with the 287(g) program.

The following statement can be attributed to ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha:

“Today in New Jersey, the line between local law enforcement and federal immigration priorities got even brighter.

“It isn’t an exaggeration to call our state’s abolition of 287(g) agreements groundbreaking through the lens of immigrants’ rights and public safety, not just in New Jersey, but throughout the United States. Our state’s chief law enforcement officer examined the effects of deputizing local law enforcement to carry out federal immigration functions, and New Jersey determined that the costs to public safety and constitutional rights were too high to allow them to exist here in good conscience.

“The two counties with active agreements, Cape May and Monmouth, have to wind down their agreements with ICE. Immigration responsibilities currently carried out by corrections staff will revert once again to local needs, not federal marching orders. Both counties attempted to circumvent the state government by renewing their agreements with ICE just before the Immigrant Trust Directive went into effect, dodging the requirement for the Attorney General’s Office to authorize any renewal.

“Even after Cape May and Monmouth counties made their strongest cases to the state government arguing for renewal of their agreements with ICE, the state found that it simply could not justify the risks to public safety or constitutional rights under any circumstances, based on any rationale.

“We continue to believe that having exceptions to the directive and adding new carve-outs for certain offenses conflicts with the underlying intent of the Immigrant Trust Directive: to clearly separate of local law enforcement duties from federal immigration functions.

“Above all, we know that everyone is safer when community members can approach law enforcement without fear that even a routine interaction could bring devastating consequences on themselves or their families.

“The wholesale end to 287(g) agreements shines as a beacon for every other state. Today, New Jersey leads the way.”