Brick Township will not be a “sanctuary city” for those in the country illegally, Mayor John Ducey said this week, after a township councilman proposed the governing body pass a resolution opposing several actions taken by Gov. Phil Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal that block law enforcement agencies from helping to enforce federal immigration laws.
“Brick is not a sanctuary city and will not be as long as I am mayor,” said Ducey. “It doesn’t make any sense to me. We have the state government taking away millions and millions of dollars, but they’re still starting these programs to provide free college to illegal [residents].”
Immigration policy isn’t the typical topic of discussion one might hear at a Brick Township council meeting, but the issue was brought to the forefront this week after Councilman Jim Fozman asked his colleagues to pass a resolution opposing Grewal’s so-called “Immigrant Trust Directive” and the limits it places on law enforcement. The draft resolution, a copy of which appears below this story, also supports the Ocean County freeholder board in its action authorizing potential litigation against the state over the directive.
“The far-left Democratic politicians favor reckless behavior,” said Fozman, a former Democrat who switched parties last year. “The idea of a sanctuary state is about politics, where this resolution is about public safety. State and local officials are not in any position to pick and choose which laws they acknowledge and which laws they will ignore.”
During his campaign for governor, Murphy declared his support for making New Jersey a sanctuary state. Grewal’s policy is being challenged by two county sheriffs – the Monmouth and Cape May sheriffs – and Ocean County. The directive places several limitations on law enforcement officers in New Jersey, including a prohibition on asking a person about their immigration status unless it is directly related to the investigation into a serious offense.
New Jersey cops are also barred from assisting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with raids targeting suspected illegal aliens wanted for questioning or deportation proceedings, and corrections officers are to ignore ICE detainer requests. Corrections officers are also prohibited from so much as allowing ICE agents to interview prisoners unless the detainee has retained an attorney and signed a consent form.
Law enforcement agencies are also prohibited from deputizing their employees as ICE agents under the 287(g) program, a federal initiative that allows local, county and state law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws.
Grewal and Murphy have said the intent of the directive is to allow for better cooperation between immigrant communities and police.
Ducey and Joanne Bergin, the township administrator, both said Brick never participated in the 287(g) program and there are no day-to-day changes in how officers do their jobs.
“I talked to the chief and he assured me nothing is different,” said Ducey.
Fozman’s proposed resolution did not get a vote Tuesday. Township Attorney Kevin Starkey said resolutions are placed on the agenda at the request of a council committee or by the mayor. Fozman has said he has been excluded from committees since switching parties. It was unclear if the council would consider the resolution at a future meeting.
“The people you represent say this stinks – we don’t want money going to fight their cause, we don’t want money going to send them to college because that takes money away from legal [residents],” said Brick resident Vic Fanelli, urging the council to pass the resolution and speaking with regard to programs that provide taxpayer dollars to suspected illegal aliens for legal assistance and community college tuition.
Fanelli said he is hoping the council votes on the resolution.
“I want to know what the rest of the people think and what the town thinks,” he said.
Roxanne Jones, the only other township resident who spoke on the issue, said she opposed some of Murphy’s policies as well.
“We received a drastic cut in aid from the state to our schools, yet we are expected to support people who have come here illegally,” Jones said. “Where are we going to get this money? We cannot be a violator of federal immigration laws. We cannot afford to be a sanctuary town or a sanctuary state.”
But should a national and statewide debate come to the Brick council chambers?
“There has always been, since I’ve been here, the same process for putting the agenda together,” said Starkey, who also commented on the township’s policies in the wake of Trenton’s new rules.
“The policy of the township is to follow the law – whatever the law is,” he said. “There are laws on immigration and the township follows them. Nothing has come to me saying that there is a conflict in our township when it comes to following immigration laws.”