Lawmakers provide protection for immigrants reporting crimes

Most immigrant families in New Jersey will tell you they are happy with their decision to live in America. This fact does not disqualify the experiences of immigrants who encounter hardships that are not common to birth citizens of the country. One problem advocates have fought against in recent years is the fear many immigrants have of reporting crimes.

The problem

Some immigrants fear that a random traffic stop or a call to the police to report a crime can set off a chain of events that could lead to deportation actions against them. One reason for this fear is a clear line does not exist between local law enforcement and immigration officers in the eyes of immigrants.

Addressing the problem

The state’s attorney general addressed this problem with the 2018 issuance of the Immigration Trust Directive. The document represents an effort to forge trust between New Jersey’s immigrant population and local law enforcement personnel. More specifically, the Immigration Trust Directive seeks to alleviate fears of deportation for immigrant families who need to report crimes.

The ITD places restrictions on allowable cooperation between local law enforcement officers and immigration authorities working at the federal level. These restrictions apply to local police offers, state correctional officers, and prosecutors at both the county and state levels.

Eliminating misconceptions

Opponents of the Immigration Trust Directive accuse the document of preventing law enforcement personnel from doing their jobs. Lawmakers firmly deny this assertion. Officers will continue to enforce court orders and serve warrants as usual.

Lawmakers also dispel the notion that the ITD provides “sanctuary” to immigrants that commit crimes in the state. They note that individuals arrested for a criminal offense will face the same level of prosecutions regardless of their immigration status. Lawmakers in support of the ITD condemn the “inflammatory and divisive” language used by political opponents when referring to the bill.

The comprehensive list of rules and regulations that make up the immigration process can become difficult for people to understand on their own. Individuals with questions about this process might benefit from a consultation with an attorney.

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