Murphy offers to protect immigrants as ICE prepares weekend raids
Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday released a statement — in English and Spanish — pledging to provide unspecified help to immigrant communities after federal authorities revealed that a nationwide operation this weekend would target people who are in the country illegally.
The raids in as many as 10 major cities had been planned for June but President Donald Trump postponed it as Congress worked on a deal to pass a $4.6 billion border aid bill.
Administration officials told The Associated Press that the operation remains in flux and it's possible it could begin later. The officials aren't authorized to discuss the matter publicly and are speaking on condition of anonymity.
Activists have been circulating information about how to access legal aid for families and individuals caught in the stings. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Thursday to protect asylum seekers from deportation.
Among those offering help is New Jersey's progressive Democratic governor.
“In anticipation of the Trump Administration’s threatened ICE raids, we are proactively reaching out to our immigrant communities to make sure they know we stand with them and are prepared to do whatever we can to protect them," Murphy's statement said.
Let’s be clear: The Trump Administration’s fear-mongering is un-American and dangerous. These raids do not make us safer; they will only make the work of local law enforcement more challenging and increase fears in our hardworking immigrant communities.
“Any family who needs legal representation should know there are many pro bono legal services available to them. We will be doing everything we can to highlight these resources and to make sure our immigrant communities know their rights and feel at home.
Murphy's message comes in a week that Ocean County officials announced that they planned to sue the state over the immigration directives that limit jail cooperation with ICE, as well as a week in which Attorney General Gurbir Grewal sparred with the elected sheriffs of Monmouth and Cape May counties over their behind-the-scenes renewal of cooperation agreements with ICE.
Mayors of some New Jersey cities with large immigrant populations also shared information about legal rights.
Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz posted on her Facebook page an infographic titled "If ICE Agents Show Up At Your Door."
Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh told News 12 New Jersey the raids are "unfair" and that his city would follow New Jersey's directive that limits law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration officials. Sayegh said that he would make an exception if a criminal case is involved.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, who had condemned the planned action by calling it "racist, bigoted, and inhumane," told the N.J. Urban Mayors Association that his city's police would not cooperate with ICE and encouraged residents to report any officer they see doing so.
Santiago Melli-Huber, a spokesman for Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, said that the mayor doubts ICE would give city officials a heads up about any operation.
"Trenton police is not in a position to detain someone for federal charges," Melli-Huber told New Jersey 101.5.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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