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New Jersey announces restrictions on ICE cooperation

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — New Jersey announced new rules Thursday that will limit law enforcement’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced the new directive at the historic rail terminal at Liberty State Park, an entry point for millions of immigrants.

Grewal said the directive “is intended to draw a clear line between the responsibility of New Jersey’s 36,000 law enforcement officers to enforce state criminal laws and the responsibility of federal immigration authorities to enforce federal civil immigration law.”

The announcement comes at a time when states and municipalities have butted heads with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities. ICE has criticized so-called “sanctuary cities” and policies it says compromise public safety. Immigrant advocates argue the agency targets suspects who have been charged but not yet found guilty, depriving them of the right to contest the charges.

Under New Jersey’s directive, police can’t question, search or arrest anyone based solely on suspected immigration status. They also can’t ask a person’s immigration status unless it’s necessary in investigating a serious offense.

Police also are barred from participating in civil immigration enforcement operations conducted by ICE. Officers aren’t barred from assisting ICE during emergency circumstances.

Once a person is arrested, local law enforcement officers are prevented from allowing ICE to interview the person unless he or she has been advised of the right to a lawyer.

For detainees charged with serious crimes such as murder, rape, assault, arson or domestic violence, law enforcement and corrections officers can notify ICE of the suspect’s upcoming release but can continue to detain the suspect only until 11:59 p.m. on the day of notification.

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