Update from University President addresses immigration policies, RUPD's responsibilities at Rutgers
In December 2016, Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi released a statement calling Rutgers a “safe haven” for undocumented students and outlining the University’s efforts to advocate for DACA students and protect the privacy of undocumented students.
He stopped short of declaring Rutgers a “sanctuary campus” in that message, due to political connections that the term has, according to the statement.
On Monday, his office issued an update to this message that reaffirmed previous policies on privacy but also addressed the Rutgers University Police Department's (RUPD) responsibilities in cooperating with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE).
The update stated that the New Jersey Attorney General requires all local police agencies, including RUPD, to contact ICE whenever an indictable offense or a DWI is committed by a person whose immigration status is in question.
“This is not a Rutgers policy, the requirement is governed entirely by the New Jersey Attorney General and by a directive issued by then-Attorney General Anne Milgram in 2007,” the update said. “That said, the RUPD will not detain people on ICE’s behalf absent a judicial order.”
On Nov. 5, The Daily Targum reported that RUPD arrested Luis Alberto López, a South Brunswick man, on Sept. 29. He was accused of driving under the influence (DUI) and handing over fake identification.
The 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.
López said RUPD held him for approximately 10 hours before handing him over to ICE. He currently sits at an immigration prison in Elizabeth, N.J. and has been there for the past two months, according to the Targum.
Some activists took issue with how RUPD handled the situation, the Targum reported. They claimed officers did not make note of López’s legal status prior to the arrest. According to a New Jersey 101.5 article from Nov. 8, López has applied for citizenship.
The activists also claimed this goes against the University’s sanctuary status, even though Barchi avoided calling Rutgers a "sanctuary campus" in his 2016 message to the University.
The Targum also reported that earlier this month, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal (D) announced plans to revisit the state’s relationship with immigration officers as early as next month because he said it does not reflect the realities of today.
The updated statement from Barchi reinforced some of the points of the earlier message, such as Rutgers advocating for the continuation of DACA and not disclosing private records of undocumented students without a warrant, subpoena or court order.
It also outlined resources students have on campus.
“All Rutgers students, regardless of their location, have access to the services of our Rutgers Immigrant Community Assistance Project (RICAP), operated through Rutgers Law School,” it stated. “RICAP strives to foster a safe environment on campus and to remove barriers to student success by providing immigration legal services. Students who feel anxious or upset may always seek assistance from counseling professionals at the student health services locations across the University.”