the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Trenton NJ, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal has sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security suggesting Thursday’s arrest by federal agents of two Indonesian nationals as they dropped off their children may have violated a longstanding prohibition on immigration enforcement actions at “sensitive locations,” and calling for the official to personally review the incident.
The letter, addressed to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen and sent Thursday afternoon, expresses “serious concern” about the arrest of Indonesian nationals Gunawan Liem of Franklin Park and Roby Sanger of Metuchen by agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Middlesex County. Liem reportedly was arrested after dropping his daughter off at her school bus stop. Sanger was arrested after dropping off his daughter at school.
In his letter, Attorney General Grewal notes that ICE has a “longstanding policy that prohibits immigration enforcement actions ‘at or focused on sensitive locations,’” and that schools are deemed to be sensitive locations under that policy. Grewal characterized ICE’s action as “deeply upsetting.”
“I am not aware of any exigent or unique circumstances here that would justify such a departure from ICE’s settled policy on sensitive locations,” Grewal’s letter states. “Undoubtedly, this creates a chilling environment for parents, who were simply ensuring that their children arrived to school safely. I trust that you will personally evaluate the circumstances surrounding this enforcement action and take any and all appropriate measures to remedy any violation of ICE policy.”
The letter goes on to express broader concern about ensuring there are no ICE enforcement actions at courthouses and at State facilities throughout New Jersey.
Enforcement actions at state courthouses would compromise the integrity of New Jersey’s justice system, the Attorney General notes, and such actions at State facilities would be an “undue intrusion” on the function of state government services to New Jersey residents, including children, families and military veterans.
“As a former federal prosecutor, county prosecutor, and now the chief law enforcement officer for New Jersey, I fully understand the need to enforce our nation’s laws,” Grewal writes, “but I am equally committed to ensuring that all of the residents of New Jersey have a safe environment to attend to their lives, whether it be to attend school, participate in our judicial system, or access state government services.”