TRENTON — Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal's office says he's not responding to the possibility of more raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the wake of the state's new guidelines to law enforcement when handling undocumented people.

The new rules introduced last week direct police officers not to inquire about a person's immigration status unless relevant to an investigation. The directive also bars departments from assisting ICE in civil immigration enforcement efforts and instructs county jails not to honor ICE detention requests that would keep suspects in custody longer than their scheduled release.

New Jersey law enforcement rules for engaging with ICE. (AP/Townsquare Media NJ)
New Jersey law enforcement rules for engaging with ICE. (AP/Townsquare Media NJ)

The rules also prohibit jails from notifying ICE about an inmate's release date unless that individual has been charged with a serious criminal offense.

“The New Jersey attorney general’s decision to further limit law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with ICE undermines public safety and hinders ICE from performing its federally mandated mission,” ICE Deputy Director Matthew Albence said Thursday.

The agency said there will likely be an increase in the number of "large arrests and worksite enforcement operations" because ICE believes they "no longer have the cooperation of the jails related to immigration enforcement."

"We don't respond to threats. We’re focused on protecting New Jersey’s residents from harm," Grewal spokesman Peter Aseltine said Monday.

ICE said that "sanctuary-type policies" offer a false sense of protection to illegal and criminal non-residents and will have "disastrous consequences." It cited the example of Luis Perez, a Mexican national released by the Middlesex County Jail and later charged with later killing three people in Arkansas.

Grewal has declined to use the "sanctuary" label, though Gov. Phil Murphy said during his campaign he'd like New Jersey to become a "sanctuary state." Grewal has said dangerous criminals won't be given sanctuary in New Jersey.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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