In landslide vote, Sussex County sides with federal immigration officials
Voters in Sussex County Tuesday showed overwhelming support for a public question about continuing to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, despite a statewide directive issued by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, which limits voluntary assistance from law enforcement officers.
According to unofficial results, the question passed with 67% support, as 22,081 voted "Yes" while 10,982 voted "No."
The ballot question read: “Should the Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Sussex cooperate with and make reasonably available to United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents the tools, resources, personnel, and real, personal and intellectual property owned by the County, under its direct control.”
With 31% voter turnout, 33,535 ballots were cast in Sussex County, which has 107,495 registered voters.
It's the latest reaction to the state's Immigrant Trust Directive concerning cooperation with federal authorities.
Ocean County filed a federal lawsuit in September that challenges the state's calling the directive "unconstitutional, invalid and unenforceable."
Then, Cape May County officials filed their own federal lawsuit in October against the state, calling the policy a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
The Ocean County suit against Gov. Phil Murphy's administration claims the directive is super-ceded by federal regulations, as well as a violation of New Jersey's "home rule" which permits county and local governments to have control over local needs and functions.
In Cape May County's suit, Sheriff Robert Nolan said the directive is "intentional interference" by Grewal, which Nolan said impedes his ability to do his job and keep county residents safe.
Grewal ordered both Cape May and Monmouth Counties in late September to "wind down" contracts that let their jail officers act with the authority of immigration agents.
“Critics like to claim that we are providing quote — sanctuary — to dangerous criminals. Nothing could be further from the truth," Grewal said during a September news conference, where he also clearly said "Under our Immigrant Trust Directive, if you break the law you go to jail regardless of your immigration status. No one — I repeat, no one — gets a free pass in this state to commit crime.”
The Warren County Board of Chosen Freeholders unanimously backed a resolution in August, supporting Ocean County’s lawsuit against the Immigrant Trust Directive.
In September, the Toms River Township Council passed a resolution supporting the same federal lawsuit filed by Ocean County, following at least 10 other municipalities within Ocean County to show support for the suit via resolutions— Jackson, Lavallette, Plumsted, Long Beach, Bay Head, Ocean, Lacey, Barnegat, Stafford and Berkeley.