Immigration policy, a discussion that has divided Americans along political and ideological lines, has the potential to do so in Brick Township Tuesday night.
Among more routine agenda items listed to be taken up by the township council at its meeting Tuesday night is a resolution opposing the “Immigrant Trust Directive,” a policy of the administration of Gov. Phil Murphy and codified by his attorney general, Gurbir S. Grewal, that limits the level of cooperation that can exist between local and county law enforcement agencies and federal immigration agents.
The resolution was first suggested by Councilman Jim Fozman, the governing body’s sole Republican member. When Fozman first proposed it at the July 23 council meeting, his motion did not receive a second, and Council President Andrea Zapcic said that resolutions normally are reviewed by a committee of three members before they are placed on the agenda. The resolution does, indeed, appear on the agenda for the Aug. 13 meeting, and could place Democrats on the council in the precarious position of having to oppose one of the signature policies of Murphy, a Democratic governor. Voting down the resolution, however, has the potential to isolate conservative Brick voters during a year when Republicans are making a push to retake the majority of the seats on the council.
Mayor John Ducey, a Democrat, does not vote on resolutions at council meeting under Brick’s form of government. But he placed enough importance on the issue to send out a letter to every household in Brick (paid for through his campaign account, not from tax dollars) detailing his own stance in the ongoing debate over immigration enforcement. Ducey said he opposed Brick becoming a “sanctuary city” when Fozman first proposed the resolution.
“Even though I am a Democrat, I strongly disagree with this policy,” he said. “In fact, I was the first mayor in New Jersey, Democrat or Republican, to speak out against the governor’s sanctuary state plan.”
Ducey has made statements opposing “sanctuary state” legislation as far back as at least 2017. He first brought up his opposition in response to a question from a resident during one of his bi-weekly Facebook Live town hall sessions.
Ducey became swept into the immigration issue after township Republicans began running ads on social media platforms linking Ducey to Murphy’s policies by using an image of Murphy ceremonially swearing Ducey in to his current term as mayor.
Ducey, in the letter, accused Republicans of “spreading lies” about him in an attempt to “distract you from my record – and theirs.”
The letter went on to tout a number of Ducey’s policies, including eliminating red light cameras, keeping tax increases to an average of 1 percent per year and introducing busing for senior citizens and events like the weekly farmers’ market.
Ultimately, Ducey’s stance on immigration will not be a factor in whether the council passes the resolution passes muster with the council. The version of the resolution on Tuesday’s agenda differs slightly from the one initially proposed by Fozman – including the explicit mention of Ducey’s opposition – but otherwise resolves that the township of Brick supports Ocean County’s litigation against Murphy and Grewal, and “urged the governor and state legislature to re-evaluate their position with regard to New Jersey becoming a sanctuary state.
Public comment will be taken at the meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at the township municipal complex.