TOMS RIVER-Ocean County officials are trying to set the record straight, it is not a sanctuary county, despite it once being identified as such by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division of Homeland Security (ICE).
As of August 2014, Ocean County was officially designated as a sanctuary county.
According to ICE, Ocean County previously stated it would not honor ICE detainers unless an individual committed an indictable offenses such as being a danger to the community, offenses against property, offenses against others or offenses against public order, health and decency.
Ocean County also honored ICE detainers for offenses such as escape and eluding police officers.
Now, the county wants to let the world know it should no longer be called a sanctuary county.
“We are not a sanctuary county, nor has Ocean County ever had an interest in being a sanctuary county,” said Ocean County Freeholder John P. Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety.”
We have been actively working to correct the record and have Ocean County’s name removed from whatever lists are out there calling us a sanctuary county.
“ICE has taken steps to memorialize this information (March 31) by removing Ocean County’s name from its declined detainer outcome report list of sanctuary counties and cities,” Kelly added.
The change officially took effect in 2015, when Sandra Mueller took office to replace longtime jail warden Theodore Hutler and rescinded a previous policy that placed restrictions on when suspects would be reported to ICE.
In an email sent to Ocean County Jail Warden Sandra Mueller on March 30, an ICE official wrote: “I want to thank you again for the continued cooperation between the Ocean County Department of Corrections and ICE… I have submitted your updated policy regarding Immigration Detainers dated July 28, 2015 to the department responsible for Declined Detainer Outcome Report and have explained that Ocean County works very closely and cooperatively with ICE.”
Shortly after the email, Ocean County’s name was no longer listed on the ICE declined detainer outcome report, but was listed in prior reports.
Ocean County’s 48 Hour Immigration Detainer Policy was crafted on July 28, 2015 by Jail Warden Mueller. This was done to cooperate with the intention of detainer requests by ICE under the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP). This policy was jointly developed with ICE. Under the policy Ocean County would maintain custody, not to exceed 48 hours, of a removable alien who has been identified as an immigration enforcement priority under the Priority Enforcement Program and that probable cause existed that these individuals are removable aliens. Earlier detainment procedures were not this specific and had not been created in partnership with ICE which appears to have resulted in the county being viewed as a sanctuary county.
Now, the county must hope the change filters through many resources on the internet that continue to list it as a sanctuary county as the federal government begins to take aim at sanctuary cities and counties with the threat of reduced federal funding.
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