New Jersey's new procedures for law enforcement when dealing with immigrant communities and federal authorities are now in effect.

After state Attorney General Grubir Grewal outlined the new “Immigrant Trust Directive” back in November, all agencies were to establish policies and train officers regarding the directive by this past Friday.

The "Immigrant Trust Directive" says all levels of NJ law enforcement:

  • Cannot stop, question, arrest, search, or detain any individual based solely on actual or suspected immigration status;
  • Cannot ask the immigration status of any individual, unless doing so is necessary to the ongoing investigation of a serious offense and relevant to the offense under investigation;
  • Cannot participate in civil immigration enforcement operations conducted by ICE;
  • Cannot provide ICE with access to state or local law enforcement resources, including equipment, office space, databases, or property, unless those resources are readily available to the public;
  • Cannot allow ICE to interview an individual arrested on a criminal charge unless that person is advised of his or her right to a lawyer.

Among the directive's exceptions and exclusions:

  • Nothing stops officers from assisting federal immigration authorities in response to emergency circumstances.
  • Officers may participate with federal authorities in joint law enforcement task forces, provided the primary purpose is unrelated to federal civil immigration enforcement.
  • Nothing in the directive prevents officers from requesting proof of identity from an individual during the course of an arrest or when legally justified during an investigative stop or detention.

The directive replaces rules in place since 2007 that required police to ask suspects in felony cases about their immigration status but barred them from inquiring about the immigration status of witnesses and victims.

Attorney General Grewal has said that nothing in the directive limits New Jersey law enforcement agencies from enforcing state law – and nothing in the directive should be read to imply that New Jersey provides “sanctuary” to those who commit crimes in this state.

The directives come, though, after Murphy while campaigning and during a gubernatorial debate last fall, had said New Jersey would become a "sanctuary state, if need be" to protect law-abiding residents.

Shortly after taking office, Murphy made his first appearance on New Jersey 101.5's "Ask the Governor," and cautioned a caller against assuming immigrants in the country illegally and foreign refugees are automatically criminals.

ICE officials have said the directive will create severe challenges and leave it with no choice but to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which it said will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests and won’t be as safe as arrests at jails and prisons.

“The New Jersey attorney general’s decision to further limit law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with ICE undermines public safety and hinders ICE from performing its federally mandated mission,” Matthew Albence, deputy director of ICE, said.

“Ultimately, this directive shields certain criminal aliens, creating a state-sanctioned haven for those seeking to evade federal authorities, all at the expense of the safety and security of the very people the NJ attorney general is charged with protecting,” Albence said.

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