Safety checks in Newark are not part of immigrant crackdown, cops say

By Paul Milo | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on February 23, 2017

NEWARK -- With undocumented immigrants across New Jersey on edge as President Trump promises a more aggressive deportation policy, a routine road-safety checkpoint program in the East Ward has been misconstrued by many residents, Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said in a statement Thursday.

The police division "is not performing immigration enforcement or conducting roadblocks to detain undocumented immigrants," Ambrose said.

"Newark police officers are not conducting any operations aimed at checking the immigration status of any individual or group."

Ambrose acknowledged there was "growing concern" that some may be detained for immigration purposes. But the program in the East Ward -- which has a large population of Latin and South American immigrants -- was solely intended to target speeders and those committing other motor-vehicle violations.

Mayor Ras Baraka has joined other mayors across the state in declaring Newark a "sanctuary city," where city officials will not assist in federal deportation efforts.

"Newark has a policy of protecting undocumented immigrants from deportation by U.S. immigration authorities. We see no reason to change that policy," Baraka said in an interview last month.

This week, Trump has announced a series of measures to speed up deportations of undocumented immigrants, including hiring more immigration agents, building additional detention centers and enlisting the help of local police.

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