Ocean County filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday that challenges the state's Immigrant Trust Directive concerning cooperation with federal authorities, calling the directive "unconstitutional, invalid and unenforceable."

The Ocean County Board of Freeholders authorized the lawsuit at its Aug. 7 meeting, after initially exploring the idea in July.

The strongly worded suit against Gov. Phil Murphy's administration claims the directive is super-ceded by federal regulations, as well as a violation of New Jersey's "home rule" which permits county and local governments to have control over local needs and functions.

Critics of the law enforcement policy regarding immigration issues say it turned New Jersey into a "sanctuary state."

The suit challenges legality of the directive issued by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, which limits voluntary assistance between law enforcement officers and federal immigration authorities, including ICE agents.

By the end of August, at least 10 municipalities within Ocean County had shown support for the lawsuit via official resolutions— Jackson, Lavallette, Plumsted, Long Beach, Bay Head, Ocean, Lacey, Barnegat, Stafford and Berkeley, according to assistant County Administrator Michael Fiure.

Other counties also have pushed back against the directive, which took effect in March.

The Warren County Board of Chosen Freeholders unanimously backed a resolution Aug. 30, supporting Ocean County’s lawsuit against the Immigrant Trust Directive. “All law enforcement agencies need to cooperate, whether it be federal, state or local,” Freeholder Director Jason Sarnoski said, in a release on the Freeholder Board’s Facebook page.

Cape May and Monmouth counties renewed contracts with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement to help screen and identify inmates who violate civil immigration laws.

Sussex County is seeking a non-binding voter referendum on the issue.

Other communities have gone on record against New Jersey becoming a "sanctuary state," with resolutions passed in Parsippany-Troy Hills, Freehold Township, Jackson and Berkeley Township (Ocean County).

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