The Newark Police Department has announced its decision that it will refuse requests by immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain non-citizens picked up for minor criminal offenses. Newark is significant in that it is the first city in New Jersey that has decided to stop honoring ICE’s detainer requests.
Many experts in law enforcement have concluded that ICE detainers are unnecessary for immigrants without a major criminal background. Instead, they clog up jail cells that are necessary for other dangerous people and use precious law enforcement time and resources. In a recent lawsuit in Louisiana, two immigrants were held for 90 to 160 days on what was supposed to be a 48 hour ICE hold. When law enforcement officials also are seen as immigration enforcers in communities, the safety of the community can. Immigration advocates have been praising Newark’s decision to get out of the immigration enforcement business and spend more time keeping the communities safe.
Newark is just the most recent example of a growing list of cities that are refusing to honor detainer requests from ICE. Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles are among the few which also will not comply with ICE in this matter. The detainers have become more common under the federal “Secure Communities” program, but states are trying to limit the authority of ICE in their local law enforcement. There is not enough room to hold immigrants in jail cells while immigration officials determine what to do with the individuals.
The Connecticut legislature already passed their version of the bill earlier this year and Californian Gov. Jerry Brown may soon have the opportunity to sign the state’s Trust Act that would codify the specific limitations. This bill would bar police from detaining anyone solely for immigration reasons. The New York Times called this a “hopeful trend” where smarter law enforcement agencies are realizing that focusing on immigration law and trying to keep their cities safe is a burden that should fall back on the federal government
If you have questions regarding the new immigration reform, applying for a visa or the changing immigration laws, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.