Says State and Local Law Enforcement Must Focus Resources on Keeping Communities Safe
TRENTON – Senator Nia H. Gill introduced legislation today prohibiting New Jersey law enforcement and corrections officials from working with federal immigration authorities to detain nonviolent offenders for immigration purposes.
The legislation is in response to executive orders signed by President Trump on Jan. 25 seeking to deputize local law enforcement to carry out federal immigration law, and is intended to ensure that New Jersey law enforcement continue to focus on keeping communities safe, rather than targeting undocumented residents for detention and deportation. The bill is modeled after California’s 2014 TRUST Act, which limits local law enforcement’s discretion to comply with requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain individuals longer than state or local law provides, unless the individual’s criminal history involves serious crimes, among other conditions.
“President Trump’s executive orders on immigration, including those seeking to deputize local law authorities to enforce federal immigration laws, are dangerous. Turning our local police departments into immigration agencies and jails into federal detention facilities is not an option,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic). “This legislation will prohibit local law enforcement from responding to requests from federal immigration officials to hold, transfer or provide them with information about residents charged with nonviolent offenses for immigration purposes.”
Unlike criminal detainers, which are supported by a warrant and require probable cause, there is no requirement for a warrant and no established standard of proof, such as reasonable suspicion or probable cause, for issuing a federal immigration detainer request. Courts have ruled that states are not required to comply with federal immigration detainer requests, information requests, or transfer requests, and that a local agency could violate the Fourth Amendment by detaining an individual solely based on the request of ICE, without probable cause for arrest, and be held liable for damages. (Miranda-Olivares v. Clackamas Co. – D.Or. April 11, 2014).
The bill would prohibit state, county, or municipal law enforcement agencies and state or county correctional facilities from complying with voluntary requests for information, transfers or detainers at the request of ICE on the basis of an immigration notification unless the person of interest has been convicted of a serious crime. Those crimes include: murder; manslaughter; aggravated assault; kidnapping; sexual assault; robbery; unlawful possession of a weapon; endangering the welfare of a child; any crime or offense involving domestic violence, among others.
“Deputizing local authorities to serve as federal immigration agents would make towns and cities less safe, putting our residents and law enforcement at risk. Immigrants would be less likely to report crimes, and more likely to become become crime victims,” said Senator Gill. “In addition, we know that deputizing local law enforcement in other states has led to immigrant communities being targeted and racial profiling. It should not be the policy of New Jersey to have law enforcement carry out federal immigration law. Local and state law enforcement must focus its resources on keeping New Jersey communities safe. This will make sure that happens.”