Middlesex County Says it’s ‘Sanctuary’ but ICE Still Making Court Arrests
NEW BRUNSWICK — Despite Middlesex County's position of not assisting immigration officials in deporting most criminals, ICE has not let that stop them from going after immigrants at the county courthouse.
Over the course of seven months, immigration agents went to the courthouse at least 10 times, according to a report by NorthJersey.com. The report comes a week after ICE announced that it had arrested more than 30 people across Middlesex during a five-day operation.
A spokesman for ICE told NorthJersey.com that agents arrested people outside the courthouse during the seven-month time frame, but did not specify how many arrests were made. A public defender who represented two people arrested by ICE at the courthouse told the website that a fear of being arrested and deported can have a negative impact on the legal process.
It has been more than a year since the Middlesex County Board of Freeholders ordered the local sheriff's office not to assist federal immigration and deportation matters, and ordered the jail to ignore holds placed by ICE on inmates who might be in the country illegally. The exception to the policy is in the case of inmates who had been convicted of a crime, but was not enough to satisfy ICE, which released a blistering statement after the most recent arrests.
"Middlesex County, which aspires to be a 'sanctuary county' by protecting criminal aliens, in the process assists criminals in undermining federal law, and creates a dangerous environment in the community," the statement said.
Of the 36 people arrested in the recent operation, more than a dozen had been previously held at the county jail.