July 19, 2019 | 93° F

At least 10 New Brunswick residents detained in targeted ICE operation

Photo by Jeffrey Gomez |

On Thursday at 5:30 a.m., United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers carried out a targeted operation in New Brunswick.

On Thursday, New Brunswick made national headlines after United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted “targeted enforcement action” in the city, detaining at least 10 residents.

Individuals were arrested from seven sites, all within the confines of New Brunswick, according to My Central Jersey. The locations ranged from Joyce Kilmer Avenue to French Street and the raids started around 5 a.m.

In a statement to NJ Advance Media, a spokesperson for ICE said the raids were intended to target gang members.

"ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested six people in New Brunswick on Thursday for civil immigration violations,” said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Lou Martinez. “Those arrested are members or associates of transnational gangs. HSI regularly conducts gang enforcement operations across the country to enhance public safety.”

But the city’s residents have pushed back against this claim, with organizations like Lazos America Unida and the Central Jersey Progressives condemning the city’s complicity with the government’s actions. This raid is not the first to have taken place in New Brunswick and this is also not the first time the city’s immigration policy has been the source of controversy.

In February, following the publication of an article in The Daily Targum, residents of New Brunswick protested the city’s stance on immigration at a rally outside City Hall. Their primary motive was to encourage leaders to adopt a “sanctuary city” title.

The original article included a statement sent to The Daily Targum by New Brunswick’s Public Information Officer Jennifer Bradshaw.

“The New Brunswick Police Department adheres to policies set by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, the Office of the Attorney General and the federal government with regard to investigations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” she said in the email. “New Brunswick is not a ‘Sanctuary City.’ This would be a matter of local ordinance, and not ‘stance.’ However, New Brunswick is a city largely built on the contributions of generations of immigrants, a fact that the administration is keenly aware of.”

In her email, she attached a brief comment by New Brunswick Mayor James Cahill.

"For more than 25 years, it has been the practice of this administration to welcome and accept all residents of the City of New Brunswick as they are,” Cahill said. “We have no intention to put an end to that practice, regardless of any change in the political climate."

While the term “sanctuary city” does not have a legally binding ordinance, it affects the process of deportation and the extent to which the ICE can utilize local resources during raids. On Jan. 25, an executive order signed into effect by President Donald J. Trump threatened to impose tax cuts on cities that identified as “sanctuaries” for undocumented immigrants.

According to Reuters, the “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” order has already threatened $2.27 billion in funding for the top 10 sanctuary cities in the country.

Representatives from the City of New Brunswick have not yet commented on Thursday’s raid, but New Brunswick Police Department spokesperson J.T. Miller said that police were notified on Thursday morning that ICE agents would be in the area.

According to Miller's statement to NJ Advance Media, the city's police force did not play a role in the detainments.

"The sad reality is that peaceful, law-abiding residents in the state are now in a precarious position of living in fear," said Analilia Mejia, the executive director of Working Families, to NJ Advance Media. "Having an undocumented population living in fear will have an impact on all of our public safety and the economy's bottom line, whether people realize it or not."

Kira Herzog is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science and journalism and media studies. She is the news editor for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @kiraherzog1 for more.

Kira Herzog

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Targum.