Federal agents' arrest of two Indonesian nationals as they dropped off their children may have violated a longstanding prohibition on immigration enforcement actions at “sensitive locations,” New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.
Grewal, of Glen Rock, called on U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen to personally review the "deeply upsetting" incident.
In a letter addressed to Nielsen, Grewal expressed “serious concern” about the arresst 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.
ICE has a “longstanding policy that prohibits immigration enforcement actions ‘at or focused on sensitive locations'," including schools, Grewal's letter says.
“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,” it adds.
"Undoubtedly, this creates a chilling environment for parents, who were simply ensuring that their children arrived to school safely," Grewal wrote. "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 noted.
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, he wrote.
“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 wrotes.
"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,” he added.
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