Freeholders To Rethink ‘Sanctuary City’ Resolution

first_imgDuring the meeting, county administrator Terri O’Connor said the resolution had been put forth by Scharfenberger, but he said in a later interview that it had come in response to a resident raising the issue at a meeting several months ago. Before the freeholders were due to vote on the resolution, county counsel Michael Fitzgerald cited some concerns he had about the measure, including using the word illegal “in places that it probably shouldn’t have been.” He said he was unsure he had drafted a resolution “that properly conveys the freeholders’ concerns or what the freeholders’ expressions are for purposes of doing this.” “I think that the timing of this is shockingly inappropriate,” said Red Bank resident Cathleen Goode of the resolution. “And I have to tell you this embarrasses me for our county, for the county in which I live and I vote.” Yeimi Hernandez, a DACA recipient who read a statement on behalf of the Latino Coalition, criticized the freeholders for practicing “shameful politics.” The Rev. Jonathan Elsensohn, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Freehold, said that in recent years, fewer people are using a food pantry in town. Subsequently, Scharfenberger made the motion to table the resolution. His office did not respond toa request for comment. “And I think before we do anything that is I think this important or of this much interest (to) everybody who’s here and beyond, I think we owe it to everybody to take a look at it, as Mr. Fitzgerald said (and) make sure the wording is correct to convey I think what the motivation was from our standpoint and also look into some of the things we heard here,” Scharfenberger said from the dais. “If we’re satisfied and we want to revisit it in a couple of weeks, then so be it.” Fellow freeholder Patrick Imprevedutosaid officials would “come back in the futurewith our decision.” But critics of the freeholders’ resolution gathered en masse at the board’s meeting. The timing of the resolution coincided with the nation confronting a crisis on its southern border and amid concerns about the treatment of border crossers in federal detention facilities. One woman at the meeting held up a photo that appeared in that day’s edition of The New York Times and elsewhere of drowned migrant Oscar Martinez and his young daughter, whose bodies washed ashore in the Rio Grande River. In 2017, authorities at the MiddlesexCounty Jail did not honor an ICE detainer, oradministrative hold, on a Mexican national,who was released and later charged in a triplemurder in Missouri, in November 2018. “We’re just looking at this from a law enforcement perspective,” freeholder and state Assembly candidate Gerry P. Scharfenberger said after the meeting. “And there’s been documented instances where the lack of communication between the state and the federal government have resulted in people who probably shouldn’t have been released being released. The real motivation was just to make sure that the law is followed and cooperation between law enforcement is an ongoing thing.” Rita Dentino, director of Casa Freehold, an immigrant rights organization, told the freeholders that her organization was “horrified” by the proposed resolution. “We believe it is important to welcome immigrants living among us, regardless ofthe immigration status,” she said. “They cutyour lawns, make your food and repair yourhomes. Do not fall prey to the notion that weare criminals and need to be feared.” But politicians in Republican-controlled parts of the state like Monmouth have pushed back against the Murphy administration. In Middletown Township, where Murphy lives, the township committee voted in April for a resolution saying it would not be a sanctuary city and opposing New Jersey becoming a sanctuary state. The language in the freeholders’ resolution was similar to the one in Middletown. “Our best supposition for this decline is that members of the undocumented community are no longer coming out to receive vital services because they fear for their safety,” he said. “This resolution will only contribute to that culture of fear and will impede our ability, as people of faith, to care for our neighbors.” “This document will take this level of fear, which is at its highest in our 16 years of existence, … to a new level of high fear throughout Monmouth County,” she said. center_img By Philip Sean Curran FREEHOLD – On a hot June afternoon, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders faced a blizzard of criticism about its proposed resolution opposing New Jersey becoming a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants. “The proposed resolution illustrates the Board of Chosen Freeholders’ desire to divide the residents of our county rather than to bring us together for the betterment of our community,” they said. “We would encourage our Freeholders to focus on priorities directly impacting Monmouth County’s residents every day rather than fueling an already divisive cultural conversation.” The board, at its June 26 meeting, voted to table a measure that said, in part, that “sanctuary policies are harmful to the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the county of Monmouth.” Nationally, immigration has become a subject of concern among a growing number of Americans. A Gallup poll released in June found immigration ranked as the country’s second biggest problem, at 23 percent, behind government, at 26. This was the first time in Gallup’s tracking of the issue that it rated so high a concern, the polling agency said. In February, the Pew Research Center said a “majority” of the roughly 10.7 million undocumented immigrants in the United States live in New Jersey and five other states. New Jersey was home to an estimated 475,000 as of 2016, behind California (2.2 million), Texas (1.6 million), Florida (775,000), and New York (725,000) and ahead of Illinois (400,000), the report found. One estimate, by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, said Monmouth County was home to 23,000 undocumented immigrants in 2017. New Jersey, home to the fifth largest population of undocumented immigrants in the country, has provided them with college financial aid and earmarked $2.1 million to pay for legal aid for their immigration cases since Murphy, a Democrat, became governor last year. In November, state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal issued an “immigrant trust directive” to all law enforcement in the state saying they cannot stop, arrest or question someone based on their actual or suspected immigration status, and cannot participate in immigration enforcement actions by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), among other restrictions. The directive carved out some exemptions. Freeholder Lillian G. Burry said the decision to table the resolution was not because freeholders agreed with some of the “disturbing” comments by the public during the meeting, where freeholders were called hateful. “Gov. Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature has enacted legislation providing benefits to illegal undocumented immigrants,” the resolution read in declaring that the county will “never become home to a sanctuary city.” The Trump administration has taken a tough stance on illegal immigration. In April, ICE said 12 of 123 “immigration violators” arrested earlier in the year were from Monmouth County. Moira Nelson and Michael Penna, the two Democrats running for freeholder this November, released a statement criticizing the board after the June 26 meeting. “The reason is we obviously put forth the wrong message in the way it was written,” she said of the decision to table the resolution. “So I want to see it reworded. I want the true intent of what we have in mind to come for ward.” last_img

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