TRENTON – Senator Paul A. Sarlo, Vice Chair of the Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs Committee, today announced that he will be introducing a measure to provide immediate notification to the federal Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) whenever an illegal immigrant is arrested for a felony crime.
“While the federal government needs to make tough decisions regarding the future of immigration in this country, we can take this step to remove dangerous individuals from our streets,” said Senator Sarlo, D-Bergen, Essex and Passaic. “If the tragedies that recently occurred in Newark have taught us anything, it’s that the current system is flawed. There is absolutely no reason why INS shouldn’t be contacted when police arrest someone who’s here illegally on charges of a violent crime.”
Senator Sarlo’s bill would require law enforcement at all levels of government – local, county and State – to notify INS whenever arresting a person who cannot show proper documentation for a felony crime, ranging from criminal mischief to murder. Senator Sarlo noted that his bill was largely influenced by the recent shootings in Newark, in which many of the suspects were in this country illegally, and had been convicted on felonies prior to the shootings.
“If we had taken a tougher stance on criminals who are here illegally earlier, the Newark tragedy, and other crimes might have been thwarted,” said Senator Sarlo. “The fact that these guys were allowed back into the communities they victimized, even after they were shown to be here illegally, is a huge loophole in the system.”
Senator Sarlo added that his bill would only apply to those arrested on felony charges, and noted that his bill does not address the larger immigration debate going on in America.
“I understand that immigration reform is a hot topic of debate lately,” said Senator Sarlo. “This bill isn’t intended to interject New Jersey into the fray on an issue that really needs to be resolved on the federal level, nor does it empower New Jersey’s law enforcement community to act as INS agents. This bill is intended to protect the hard-working, law-abiding residents of New Jersey, whatever country of origin you may be from.”
Senator Sarlo added that he will be pushing for swift enactment of his bill in the fall.
“Our streets are under siege of violence, from criminals both foreign and domestic,” said Senator Sarlo. “I do not believe that this measure will be a panacea for all the violence being perpetrated in our communities. But if we can have some impact on violent crime, and help keep kids safe, we need to use every tool at our disposal.”