[Immigrantrightsnynj] Morris rejects jail wing for illegals
Immigrant Rights NYNJ
immigrantrightsnynj at list.afsc.org
Fri Feb 22 12:07:04 EST 2008
Morris rejects jail wing for illegals
Friday, February 22, 2008
BY ELIZABETH LLORENTE
Morris County officials have denied a request by Morristown Mayor Donald
Cresitello to open an unused wing of the county jail to hold immigration
Cresitello says the county's decision, heavily based upon the
recommendation of Morris County Sheriff Edward Rochford, dooms his
yearlong efforts to win federal approval to deputize Morristown police
to enforce immigration laws.
Rochford's report raised concerns over an estimated $1.5 million in
start-up costs for housing immigration detainees, and the potential for
the jail to become the target of protests and lawsuits by civil rights
"The sheriff did a very thorough report," said Morris County
Administrator John Bonanni. "It was presented to the freeholders, and it
Cresitello drew national attention when he began his campaign nearly a
year ago to deputize police in Morristown. He said illegal immigrants
were diminishing the quality of life through such things as loitering
and living in overcrowded conditions. His campaign came amid a national
trend in which local officials, frustrated by failed efforts in Congress
to pass comprehensive immigration reform laws, were taking it upon
themselves to address illegal immigration.
The mayor said officials of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, or ICE, told him that securing the jail space was crucial
to admission into 287G, the program that provides the training and
authority to enforce immigration laws.
"If the county doesn't participate, we can't do 287G," Cresitello said.
"Our proposal is dead. We wasted our time and a substantial amount of
County officials said they studied data, consulted with law enforcement
officials of other counties and met with ICE authorities before deciding
to reject Cresitello's request.
They said they already contact ICE about immigrants who come to their
jail because of criminal charges. This enables ICE to begin deportation
proceedings before an immigrant tied to a serious crime can post bail
and be released. They said they'd need new policies and resources to
handle 287G detainees arrested and detained for immigration violations,
which are civil, not criminal.
"Illegal immigration is a federal issue," said the jail warden, Frank
Corrente, whom Rochford consulted. "The federal government is the one
that needs to address the floodgates. I can load up my jail with them,
and you're still not fixing anything."
Cresitello bitterly criticized ICE for imposing the requirement that
Morristown secure jail space as part of its 287G application. He said
ICE should provide the jail space, and that putting that burden on local
officials would discourage others from applying for 287G.
"If they're serious about enforcing immigration, they need to remove
that rule," Cresitello said. "They should accommodate those [287G]
ICE spokesman Michael Gilhooly declined to respond directly to
Crestillo's comments, saying that ICE does not comment on 287G matters
between the agency and an applicant until a contract is finalized.
Cresitello said he wanted his police to be able to check - and if need
be, act upon -- the immigration status of people they come across during
the normal routine of their work. Opponents of 287G argue that it will
encourage racial profiling.
E-mail: llorente at northjersey.com
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