CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — The Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders on Tuesday reaffirmed its support for a program to help federal officers deport undocumented immigrants accused of crimes, as a second person is being held in the county jail under the program.
At its meeting Tuesday, the board passed a resolution 5-0 to support Sheriff Robert Nolan in his decision to extend an agreement for 10 years with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The resolution supports Nolan’s “upholding public safety and security in Cape May County through execution of an agreement with ICE to continue the 287(g) Program at the Cape May County Correctional Facility,” the document states.
The program allows local officers to perform the functions of ICE officers. In Cape May County, three sheriff’s officers assigned to the jail participate.
A spokesman for state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has said the county must follow state rules or Grewal’s office will issue a directive to stop the county program as of Aug. 6.
County spokesman Denis Brown said the second undocumented person being held for ICE in the Cape May County jail was arrested Monday night by Wildwood police. The person is a citizen of the Ukraine who had overstayed on a J-1 work visa from 2015, Brown said. The Ukrainian has been charged with aggravated assault, aggravated assault with attempt to cause bodily injury and threats to kill by attempting to stab with a kitchen knife, he said.
Previously the county had said it was holding another person for ICE who had been charged with sexual assault on a minor.
Brown said the Sheriff’s Office is working on a response letter to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, which has demanded reports to justify extending the agreement with ICE.
The state requires local governments to provide extensive documentation on why a program is needed, including an analysis of the impact the agreement would have on law enforcement’s relationship with immigrant communities. Grewal’s office has said the county has not done that.
The county has stressed it does not send officers into the community to round up undocumented residents. It only helps deport those accused of crimes who end up in the jail.
“Cape May County does not want to be a sanctuary county,” Freeholder Director Gerald M. Thornton said in a news release earlier this month.
In November, Grewal issued the Immigrant Trust Directive, limiting the voluntary assistance local and county law enforcement can provide to federal immigration authorities.
Grewal has said people are far less likely to report a crime to police if they fear the officer may turn them over to ICE.
On April 30, Grewal outlined the extensive process any law-enforcement agency would need to undertake to enter or renew a 287(g) agreement.