In New Jersey, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is having a hard time stopping local and state law enforcement from working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Now, sheriffs from New Jersey have renewed contracts with ICE to aid them when they have someone in custody that has a retainer issued for them by ICE.
New Jersey has been operating under a program called 287 (g).
The program is a contract between local and state agencies to notify ICE when the person in their custody has a retainer issued against them.
According to AG Grewal, “That no state, county or local law enforcement authority shall extend any 287 (g) agreement unless they received written approval from his office.”
Kyle Reyes reports on the sheriffs who are now having to answer for renewing their contracts with ICE.
Now, the sheriffs of Monmouth and Cape May are having to answer to the Attorney General as to why they extended their 287 (g) contract without that written permission form the AG’s office and why they should be allowed to continue it.
They must also show how the program is in the best interest of their counties.
Submitted as part of their ‘defense’ are eight instances of foreign nationals who have been arrested for violent crimes. A Guatemalan national was charged with aggravated assault with a handgun, terroristic threats, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.
Monmouth County corrections officers ran that individuals name through a federal database discovering the inmate had entered the United States on a visitor’s visa and never left. Those corrections officer placed an immigration hold on the inmate that notified federal immigration authorities.
A second man from Brazil landed at the same country jail on burglary, harassment, and domestic violence charges, and was also issued an immigration hold after it was discovered he had been apprehended at the border nearly three years earlier with his mother.
The sheriff wants to continue their participation in the program.
I tend to agree that the sheriff can determine that.
However, these aren’t the only two sheriffs attempting to get around the AG’s Immigrant Trust Directive.
The Ocean County Board of Freeholders voted last week to “institute litigation.” This coming after officials at the county jail said they felt that they were legally obligated to prevent ICE agents from accessing an internal database to search for inmates who may also be in violation of federal immigration law.
Likewise, Sussex County Republican Freeholders revised a question that they want to add to the November ballot that would ask voters to decide if the county sheriff’s office should follow the directive.
Under the 287 (g) program, ICE trains local law enforcement officers to assist the federal agency in enforcing immigration laws.
Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden released departmental statistics to the attorney general’s office showing that between October 2018 through May 2019, 333 immigrants were flagged because of 287(g), and 39 were removed. A majority of those flagged — 188 — had immigration violations against them, while 66 were convicted criminals, and 122 had pending criminal charges.
Golden said in his letter that “the program is highly regarded and essential, particularly in light of bail reform, which largely eliminated bail so that people do not linger in jail awaiting trial.” The Monmouth jail started participating in the program in 2010.
“In the spirit of your objective for our collective communities the 287 (g) program is not meant to undermine community trust since it is only implemented within the four walls of the correctional facility,’’ he wrote.
Golden pointed out that there were no additional costs to the county or state unless an officer had to be trained under the program as a replacement.
Additionally, he added that the program aided in the safety of the community.
“Between 2017 and 2019, 25 people from other New Jersey counties, New York City, and even California were transferred into ICE custody after being apprehended in Monmouth,” he said.
Cape May County Sheriff Robert A. Nolan also wrote to Grewal’s office writing, “By having direct access to the ICE database, the Cape May County Sheriff’s Office can more efficiently screen inmates to further protect our community by being able to confirm that the incarcerated, undocumented immigrants do not have criminal charges or convictions. We have not, or nor will we ever, participate in any activities related to arrest, detection, participation in ICE round-ups.”
So, the sheriffs are clear in that they aren’t going around and raiding communities. Rather, they have apprehended people committing crimes who also happen to have a retainer by the feds, presumably for deportation.
Reyes points out what he believes is the most appalling aspect of what the sheriffs are facing.
The most appalling twist to Allende’s demands: both sheriffs will have to show what impact the program would have on the relationship between law enforcement and their immigrant communities. Allende also wants a summary of the public view if 287 (g). The best way to ascertain that information. They would have to hold at least one public meeting.
Golden stated that in July 2016, his office held a meeting with members of the Latino community, including American Friends Service Committee. He said that in that meeting was held to answer their questions and address their concerns. The meeting, he said:
“Led to a change in the program and required ICE to take custody of individuals within 24 hours after the county charges were satisfied.”
Chia-Chia Wang, organizing and advocacy director at American Friends Service Committee in Newark, said that meeting was requested by advocates and not by the sheriff’s office.
“There was only three of us meeting with the sheriff at his office in 2016, there were two meetings we initiated, and the meetings were to convince him to not renew 287 (g),” she said. “He didn’t reach out to anybody to ask for any opinion, and we requested the meeting.”
Allende, in a follow-up letter to Golden, asked him to provide specifics of the meeting, including whether it was public, what questions were asked, and what concerns were articulated.
Grewal is the son of Indian immigrants to the US. His time in public service has been fairly short, but there is a mixed bag of positions and actions he has taken, which you can see here.
I believe the sheriffs are in the right in this instance and I support their position. It’s a position that many sheriffs do not support, such as Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno. It does endanger the community and in Marceno’s case, it may be due to the fact that his own background check might just prove his impersonation of a police officer for over a decade in Florida.
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