New Jersey officials have backed off from describing New Jersey as a sanctuary state for unauthorized immigrants, but upcoming legislation aims to make sure that the "sanctuary" designation is prohibited in any municipality.

A legislative package announced by state Sen. Michael Testa (R-Cumberland) also would scrap a New Jersey directive that he says has been preventing local law enforcement officers from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

"The hard working families of New Jersey deserve better policies, whole lot better policies than putting illegal immigrants before them," Testa told New Jersey 101.5. "New Jerseyans should come first."

Testa's move comes in the wake of a battle between officials in New Jersey and leadership in Texas. Busloads of migrants from Texas have been making drop-offs in New Jersey to reportedly get around New York City's executive order that limits drop-offs of migrants to certain times and locations.

Testa's "New Jersey Comes First" legislative package would prohibit municipal ordinances that create sanctuary cities (municipalities that permit unauthorized immigrants from actions such as deportation).

Declaring New Jersey as a sanctuary state was among Phil Murphy's messaging during his initial campaign for governor, but in 2019, then-Attorney General Gurbir Grewal insisted that the "notion of sanctuary" is a "false narrative being put out there."

A directive by Grewal from 2018 is another target of the bills that Tesla plans to introduce. Testa said one bill would seek to repeal the Immigrant Trust Directive, which limited the types of voluntary assistance that state and local officers can provide to federal immigrant authorities, including ICE.

Under current rules, New Jersey officers can't stop, question or detain someone simply because they simply believe that the individual may be undocumented. Also, officers can't ask someone about their immigration status, except in cases when it's relevant to a criminal investigation.

"It makes absolutely no sense," Testa said. "I am not against legal immigration to the United States of America and to New Jersey ... However, if someone is here illegally, we need to know who they are."

According to Testa's office, the legislative package will also include a resolution that encourages President Joe Biden and Congress to enact immigration policies that "better serve the national interest."

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