The number of people taken into custody by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers in New Jersey fell last month, despite the announcement of nationwide raids by the federal government that caused statewide protests. ICE officers in the Garden State detained 139 people in January, claims ICE’s New Jersey spokesman Alvin Philips.
This figure is a decrease from the total recorded in December and falls into line with the number of apprehensions last year. “We have absolutely no part in enforcement that has occurred in other states,” Philips noted last week, insisting that ICE was merely continuing to target priority one or two cases and not specifically focusing on immigrants from Central America or elsewhere.
Priority one cases, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement guidelines, are people who are threats to border security, public safety and national security, such as people with major criminal convictions and terrorists. Priority two cases are ‘significant’ abusers of US visas or those with serious misdemeanors or a minimum of three or more other misdemeanors.
ICE New Jersey has faced criticism from the immigration advocacy group New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice. “Whether these are new raids or ongoing enforcement is unclear, what’s clear is that communities are reporting that ICE has been very active and visible in New Jersey in recent months,” says spokesperson Johanna Calle. “These aggressive tactics are terrorizing immigrant families and children, who are more fearful than anyone can remember in recent memory, and that is a problem.”