TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey’s attorney general says he’s “deeply disappointed” that the U.S. Justice Department is backing two counties in their lawsuits against his directive limiting law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities.
NorthJersey.com reports that the department on Friday backed Cape May and Ocean County officials in a statement of interest filing in federal court in New Jersey. Officials argue that barring state and local officials from providing information about people illegally in the country conflicts with the federal government’s “statutorily granted powers.”
The directive, which was announced in November 2018 but went into effect in March, bars officers from taking part in federal immigration operations. State and local officers are also barred from questioning or arresting anyone based solely on suspected immigration status or asking a person’s immigration status unless it’s necessary in investigating a serious offense.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Saturday he was “deeply disappointed” that federal officials “have suddenly chosen to challenge” the directive in court “over a year after it was issued.”
Grewal said in a statement the directive ensures that all residents feel safe interacting with state and local police, which helps protect public safety. “At a time when we need to be building bridges with our immigrant communities, the federal government is working to push them further into the shadows,” he said.
“The federal government’s efforts to coerce states into implementing its immigration agenda have failed repeatedly in the past,” Grewal said, vowing that officials would respond in court “at the appropriate time.”