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County jails shouldn’t cave to ACLU demands to release ICE detainees

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

WHAT WE THINK: You think of wardens who run New Jersey’s jails as no-nonsense types who aren’t easily intimidated, but at least two have already caved to threats from the ACLU and released illegal immigrants over the objections of federal authorities.

At a time when illegals seem to be at the center of some of the state’s most horrendous crimes, “some county jails are releasing defendants who may be eligible to be deported” based on a recent court ruling, as notes today.

“When serious criminal offenders are released to the streets in a community, rather than to ICE custody, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect public safety and impedes us from enforcing the nation’s immigration laws,” Harold Ort, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in New Jersey told the site’s Thomas Zambito.

ICE agents file detainers on illegals seeking that they be held 48 hours after they either post bail or have their cases resolved. Then deportation proceedings begin.

Most wardens in NJ have honored the requests — and have continued to do so since March, when the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadephia ruled that detainers requests don’t necessarily have to be honored.

The American Civil Liberties Union — whose suit prompted the decision — took the position that the higher court considered the detainers illega.

“Should an individual who has been wrongfully detained in your jail on the basis of an immigration detainer seek our assistance, the ACLU of New Jersey is prepared to pursue legal action to vindicate his or her rights,” the union wrote in a letter to the various county jails.

The letter apparently scared the piss out of David Owens, a former Philadelphia warden who now runs the Camden County Jail. He let an illegal accused of assault a police officer go.

Fortunately, Owens gave ICE a heads up and they grabbed the guy the next day. A month later, he was deported to his native Mexico.

Burlington and Ocean counties have wardens who also got weak-kneed. Yet it isn’t only civilians who’ve allowed themselves to be bullied.

Union County’s jail is run by acting Sheriff Joseph P. Cryan, a career politician (he’s a state Assemblyman) who took over when longtime strongman Sheriff Ralph Froehlich died earlier this year.

When the ACLU barked, Union County’s freeholders adopted a new policy of releasing suspected illegals — with nary a peep from Cryan. Froehlich must be spinning.

“In the face of congressional inaction, counties across the country are responding to senseless family separations by issuing policies that prevent families from being funneled into detention and promote trust between immigrant communities and police departments,” the Union freeholders said in a news release that pandered to their county’s immigrant population.

The city of Newark and the township of Princeton have adopted a similar policy for their local jails, the ACLU told

Newark, Princeton? Need we say more?

Bergen, Passaic? I’d like to see the ACLU try that with Michael Saudino or RIchard Berdnik.

The ACLU is “trying to intimidate sheriffs into not cooperating with ICE by telling them they’re going to sue them,” Jessica Vaughan, the director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C., told Zambito.

Based solely on the past five years in Bergen County, those defendants for whom ICE issue detainers have been charged or convicted of crimes — and not the pedestrian kind, either. Many have been charged with sexual offenses, among others.

More than a few already had been deported only to return soon after.

This past week, a 45-year-old woman in Waldwick died of a heart attack while trying to break up a fight between her son and his girlfriend — both of whom are illegals being held on INS detainers and high bails at the Bergen jail. Authorities didn’t say whether the victim was undocumented, as well.

The ACLU insists that judges, and not ICE agents, should determine who should remain held.

Fine. Do it, then.

Our judges set bails. Let them issue detainers, as well.

Then tell the ACLU to shut up.

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