Middlesex County, New Jersey, considered a sanctuary jurisdiction by immigration experts, released more criminal aliens under U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers. ICE officers were forced to arrest the criminal aliens on the streets after they were released by the New Jersey county.
Since May 18, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers arrested two criminal aliens after Middlesex County released them. Immigration officers placed immigration detainers on the two foreign nationals prior to their release. The Center for Immigration Studies(CIS) lists the county on its map of sanctuary jurisdictions.
Jail officials released Aurelio Hernandez Cortez from the Middlesex County Adult Correctional Facility on May 18 without notifying ICE. The release came despite a detainer ERO officers put in place on the Mexican national that day, according to information obtained by Breitbart Texas from ICE officials. Hernandez Cortez has a criminal charge pending in the New Jersey county.
On May 22, ICE lodged an immigration detainer on an Indian national facing state charges. County officials released Maulik Gajjar the very same day, and ICE was again not notified.
In spite of the county’s release of these criminals into society without notifying ICE, officers with the federal immigration agency tracked them down and arrested them on June 7 and 8. Officers arrested Gajjar and Hernandez Cortez outside their homes. Gajjar lived in Iselin, and Hernandez Cortez resided in Perth Amboy. Both communities are in Middlesex County.
Politicians from Middlesex and two other counties in New Jersey spoke at a rally in early May and denounced President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, reported the Hudson County View.
In a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas from ICE, spokesman John Tsoukaris, ERO Newark field office director, said “As a nation, we must protect the integrity of our immigration system and the removal of illegal aliens, especially those with a criminal history, this is one of ICE’s top priorities.”
“ICE shares the county’s ultimate objective to protect public safety and national security while simultaneously preserving the critical community police bond,” Tsoukaris explained. “As such, county jails that fail to work with ICE put their communities at risk.”
This is not ICE’s first run-in with Middlesex County.
In June, Breitbart Texas reported that federal immigration officers arrested a Honduran citizen after jail officials released him. ICE officials issued an immigration detainer on April 14, but Middlesex County released Elder Antonio Quintero Rodriquez on May 19 without notifying ICE. Quintero Rodriguez had a felony record for “endangering abuse; the neglect of a child,” ICE officials said. the New Jersey county also released a Mexican national facing state criminal charges. ERO officers issued an immigration detainer on Rolando Herrera Saavedra on April 21, but officials in the county released the criminal alien on bond. Again, the county did not notify immigration officials.
ICE expressed its concerns about being forced to arrest criminal aliens on community streets after they are released by sanctuary jurisdictions. The transfer of criminal aliens is safer while they are in jail.
Addressing the arrest of a registered sex offender that had been released from New York City’s custody, New York ERO Field Officer Director Thomas R. Decker said in a written statement, “It is unfortunate that we continue to arrest convicted criminals off the street simply because the city refuses to honor detainers and releases them back into our communities.”
“Each time an officer is forced to pick up someone who could have safely been turned over it puts the officers’ safety, as well as the safety of the neighborhoods we serve, at risk,” Decker stated. “ICE strives to strengthen its relationships with local law enforcement entities in the interest of public safety.”
Prospect Park and Jersey City were among the first cities in New Jersey to officially declare sanctuary city status, reported North Jersey.com. Prospect Park Mayor Mohamed Khairullah signed an executive order in early February promising equal services and treatment to all residents even if they are not citizens of the country, the local news outlet reported. Maplewood declared “sanctuary” city status in January.
On March 6, Leonia adopted a resolution saying it was a “welcoming community.” Other New Jersey communities, including its two largest cities – Newark and Jersey City – “refuse to collaborate with federal authorities on efforts to enforce immigration laws,” the local media outlet reported. It also reported that East Orange, Princeton, Union City, and Rutgers University all “have some version of a sanctuary policy in place.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie defended the Trump administration’s immigration policies and immigration raids saying, “The laws that are in effect right now have to be enforced.” He offered no assurances to illegal aliens in New Jersey, including those without violent criminal records, reported Philly.com in mid-February. However, Gov. Christie also pushed for and signed into law, a bail bond reform measure that does not take an illegal alien’s immigration status into account when considering flight risk as a condition of bond.