Sheriffs: Plan to End Cooperation With ICE ‘Absurd,’ and We’ll Fight It
CAPE MAY — The two sheriffs whose jails have been told to end agreements with ICE say they'll take their objections to court.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal on Friday gave Cape May and Monmouth counties a week to wind down their 287(g) agreements, which allow their jail officers to conduct immigration enforcement activities.
Grewal said that the Monmouth and Cape May county agreements were the only law enforcement agencies out of more than 500 in the state that were currently operating under 287(g).
"It is my hope that they will comply," Grewal said about the sheriffs, adding that his office has authority over the local agencies. He also noted he has the ability to supercede other law enforcement offices if he deems it necessary.
It does not appear that Cape May Sheriff Bob Nolan or Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden are eager to cooperate.
Nolan called the plan "absurd" on his Facebook page.
"My plan now is to fight this in federal court. Never in 35 years of service within the Cape May County Sheriff's Office have I ever been ordered to 'NOT COOPERATE with other Law Enforcement Agencies,'" Nolan wrote. "Also, it totally disregards the events of 911 and the recommendations made by the 911 Commission in an effort to strengthen communication and cooperation between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Please pray that we succeed in our efforts to right this wrong."
Golden on Friday alleged in a statement the new directive ignores federal and state laws.
"Law enforcement throughout Monmouth County never wants to be faced with a situation where a dangerous, undocumented immigrant is released from jail and poses a threat to a community," he said. "However, this sanctuary directive will make our communities less safe, since it places people in those communities at risk for increased violence."
"These are challenging times for law enforcement, as we do not recall a directive that has ever been issued to ignore the laws of this country or state," Golden said. "As a result, we shall continue to pursue legal remedies to this directive, which deprives Monmouth County of the ability to identify individuals who have committed crimes and are here illegally."
Grewal's order expands on his existing Immigration Trust Directive, an instruction to local law enforcement that limits cooperation with ICE, and that he's said is meant to avoid blurring the lines between immigration enforcement and local law enforcement priorities. He told the Townsquare News Network recently the ongoing search for missing 5-year-old child Dulce Maria Alvarez illustrates the need to build trust with immigrant communities who won't fear local police are looking to deport them.
Grewal on Friday said that the state's directive allows jails to inform ICE about defendants charged with serious, violent crimes and notify ICE about their expected release. On Friday, Grewal added weapons and more domestic violence offenses to the list of charges that would trigger notification to ICE.
He argued the 287(g) agreements are redundant with existing laws and the Immigrant Trust Directive
Golden has not yet responded to written follow-up questions asking which laws he believed the directive was breaking, or why he did not think that the state’s Immigrant Trust Directive would allow his jail to continue to notify ICE and hold individuals for ICE detention.
Neither sheriff disclosed their specific next legal steps.
On Thursday, ICE criticized the Middlesex and Cumberland county jails for releasing a child-rape defendant and two men charged with domestic violence after Superior Court judges had cleared them for release. While ICE can ask local authorities to hold immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally for up to 48 hours past their expected release dates — to give the immigration agency more time to assume custody of them — it doesn't have legal authority to force local agencies to comply. Critics of detainer requests argue they ignore Constitutional due process protections and open up local agencies to legal liability.
Previous reporting by Sergio Bichao was used in this report.