EDITORIAL: NJ shifts to better protect, serve all
Rutgers should address how state changes will interact with U. policy
Unauthorized immigration in to the United States peaked in 2007. A decade ago, the total number of unauthorized immigrants hit its precipice and then declined, continuing to fall for the next 10 years. The drop in illegal immigration to the lowest level it has been since 2004 is connected to the large decrease of 1.5 million people in the number of Mexican unauthorized immigrants from 2007 to 2016, according to the Pew Research Center. The reality of immigration is felt in New Jersey, which has one of the highest undocumented immigrant populations in the country.
Some will claim that the estimated 500,000 people living without legal citizenship in New Jersey as of 2014, according to the Pew Research Center, are a toll on state and local public systems. Such fabrication of falsehoods is predicated on the pervasive spread of hate-mongering.
Every undocumented worker funds public schools and local government services since they all pay sales and property taxes. In fact, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates that they pay about $11.7 billion a year in state and local taxes and that approximately half of undocumented workers file income taxes.
The IRS estimates that unauthorized workers pay about $9 billion in payroll taxes. In 2015, according to IRS data, those who filed income taxes and did not have Social Security numbers, which includes a large number of undocumented immigrants, paid a total of $23.6 billion in income taxes.
Prior to Nov. 29, the hundreds of thousands of unauthorized immigrants contributing to their New Jersey communities were disincentivized to report crimes no matter how serious for fear of being reported to U.S. Immigrations Custsoms and Enforcement (ICE). But, after Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal (D-N.J.) established the “Immigrant Trust Directive,” justice can be better served and relationships between law enforcement and communities can improve.
A survey of hundreds of police officers, victims’ advocates and prosecutors across the U.S., released by the American Civil Liberties Union, revealed that unauthorized immigrants are now more reluctant to contact the police, report a crime, press criminal charges and testify against assailants.
Grewal hopes that the new directive will “draw immigrants out of the shadows and into our communities. We hope to create an environment where residents feel safe around our officers, whether they're reporting a crime or simply striking up a conversation."
The directive includes requirements for local police such as the “can’t stop, question, arrest, search or detain any individual based solely on actual or suspected immigration status,” they cannot participate in immigration raids or operations and they cannot “renew or enter into certain agreements with federal authorities, under which state and local agencies are deputized to enforce federal civil immigration laws, without prior approval from the attorney general.”
In rebuke of President Donald J. Trump’s aggressive immigration policies and in the hope that trust in police increases, the directive curbs some cooperation with ICE, while allowing the continued notification of the agency in the case of “serious or violent offense, if the person has a final deportation order signed by a judge, or if he or she has been charged in the last five years in an indictable offense.”
Prior to the directive, the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) cooperated with ICE and Rutgers was only a “safe haven” for students and not for the broader New Brunswick community.
The Daily Targum reported that RUPD said University policy requires it to notify ICE of any person arrested for a serious crime, such as DUI, found in connection with immigration issues — a policy New Jersey has enforced since it was first implemented in 2007.
The Rutgers administration ought to disclose whether there is a change in the University’s policy in light of the new directive and there must be a discourse on whether "safe haven" is enough of a commitment to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and undocumented students. The protection of privacy of these students is fundamental, but the University lacks a high degree of commitment to defiance of unjust and aggressive immigration policies.
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