Court: NJ Can Block Police from Cooperating with Immigration Officials

The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld a law enforcement directive issued by former New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal barring local police departments from cooperating with federal immigration authorities. 

The directive, issued by Grewal in 2018, was intended to ease fears among New Jersey’s large undocumented immigrant population that they would be deported by then-President Donald Trump.

Ocean County filed a lawsuit against the directive in federal court in September 2019 seeking a judgement that the directive violates the US Constitution and New Jersey law. President Donald Trump’s Justice Department joined the lawsuit in January 2020, with the DOJ writing that the directive “unlawfully impedes the federal government from exercising its statutorily granted powers.”

The lawsuit was dismissed in July 2020, with a judge ruling that New Jersey’s choice not to cooperate with federal immigration law is “a clear exercise of the State’s police power to regulate the conduct of its own law enforcement agencies.”

Ocean County appealed the ruling, with the 3rd Circuit upholding the case’s dismissal.

The directive bars state, county, and local law enforcement agencies from providing federal immigration officials with any nonpublic identifying information regarding an illegal alien, access to a detained individual for an interview, or providing access to equipment, office space, databases, or property.

The directive also orders local law enforcement to warn a detained individual when federal immigration authorities are seeking to interview the individual, have them detained past their scheduled release date, or if immigration authorities ask to be notified when the person will be released.


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