Republicans are pushing back on the Murphy administration’s directive to two county sheriff’s who have renewed agreements with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that contradict a directive by state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to limit cooperation between local law enforcement and ICE.
“Phil Murphy continues to pursue his reckless political agenda, this time by weaponizing the Attorney General’s office and targeting New Jersey’s elected Sheriffs,” said Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt. “Rather than encourage those Sheriffs to work with federal agents to enforce and respect federal immigration laws, the Murphy Administration continues to impose restrictions designed to hinder them.”
Grewal’s office sent letters to Monmouth Sheriff Shaun Golden and Cape May Sheriff Robert Nolan. Both are Republicans.
Golden, who is also the Monmouth County Republican Chairman, is widely viewed as a potential challenger to Murphy in the 2021 gubernatorial election.
“The Administration’s recent attack on the State’s Sheriffs begs the question of how far an appointed Attorney General can legally go in directing or limiting the authority of a duly elected, constitutional officer,” Steinhardt said. “In New Jersey, County Clerks, Surrogates and Sheriffs are officials whose offices and duties are created, not by statute, but by State Constitution.”
Steinhardt said that Republicans won’t “sit on its hands as Governor Murphy scoffs at federal immigration laws for the sake of his personal political agenda.”
“We encourage every municipality and county to pass a resolution declaring that they will never be a sanctuary state,” said Steinhardt.” The NJGOP will provide local elected officials whatever tools we have to assert their right to govern locally.”
It’s not immediately clear how far Grewal is willing to push the issue against Golden, who is up for re-election as sheriff this year, and Nolan.
Grewal did send a similar letter to Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop last year regarding the city’s marijuana decriminalization policy, but later backed down from a fight.
Two Republican Assembly candidates in the Bergen County-based 38th district criticized Murphy and Grewal for their letters to Golden and Nolan.
“Phil Murphy and his Attorney General are committing an egregious overreach of their power. Their empty threats to our wonderful law enforcement community over its cooperation with Federal Law Enforcement authorities should immediately be checked by all of New Jersey’s citizens,” said Rochelle Park Mayor Michael Kazimir and Paramus Councilman Christopher DiPiazza. “The political theater out of Phil Murphy and the rest of the Trenton Democrats must come to an end in this year’s elections. When we go door to door and attend community events throughout our district, we hear an overwhelming outcry against sanctuary cities and for law enforcement.”
Grewal was the Bergen County Prosecutor before Murphy named him attorney general after the 2017 election.
The Star-Ledger first reported the story on Monday evening.