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Man detained, handed to ICE by Rutgers police has yet to be deported

Rutgers policy requires the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) to inform Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of any person arrested for a serious crime, such as DUI, found in connection with immigration issues, RUPD said in an email.  – Photo by Flickr

A South Brunswick man has not been deported after an arrest made by officers from the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) landed him in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility. 

RUPD confirmed that two of its officers arrested Luis Alberto López on Sept. 29 in an email. He was accused of driving under the influence (DUI) and handing over fake identification, according to an article from Telemundo

The email added that University policy requires it notify ICE of any person arrested for a serious crime, such as DUI, found in connection with immigration issues. New Jersey has enforced this policy since it was first implemented in 2007, according to the article.

Earlier this month, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced plans to revisit the state’s relationship with immigration officers as early as next month because it does not reflect the realities of today, according to an article from Whyy.

The 2007 directive requires that state law enforcement officials inquire about an individual's immigration status after they have been arrested on serious criminal charges. They are to notify ICE, the prosecuting agency and the court if there is reason to believe that the arrestee may be an undocumented immigrant, according to the directive. 

“If federal immigration authorities have a criminal warrant and they need our assistance in executing criminal warrants, we’ll cooperate,” Grewal said in the article. “But we’re not here as state law enforcement officers to enforce civil immigration laws.”

López said RUPD held him for approximately 10 hours before handing him over to ICE. He currently sits at an immigration prison in Elizabeth, N.J. and has been there for approximately the past month, according to Telemundo.

“We work hard to encourage minority communities to come out of the shadows to report crimes,” Grewal said in the article. “And when they feel that they can’t come and report a crime because we may somehow enforce federal civil immigration laws, that makes it harder for the troopers in the state and 30,000 plus law enforcement officers to do their jobs.”

Activists have taken issue with how RUPD handled the situation. They claim officers did not make note of Lopez’s legal status prior to the arrest, according to Telemundo.

They also claimed this goes against the University’s sanctuary status, but University President Robert L. Barchi has yet to make an announcement in regard to such status, and as of 2016, omitted the word “sanctuary” from a University-wide statement establishing Rutgers as a safe haven for undocumented students, according to The Daily Targum

“I sent out a letter to all of our campus community at the beginning of this semester indicating we are a safe haven for our immigrant students — and all of our students — and that we will continue to be so, that we will protect their privacy, that we will not release information unless we’re required to do so by subpoena or court order,” Barchi said at the time. “We will continue to be as supportive of them as we possibly can.”

At the time of the announcement, David Hughes of American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers Rutgers told the Targum that Barchi’s actions effectively meant Rutgers is a sanctuary campus. 

“That is the threshold, that is the mark of a sanctuary campus as established by Columbia (University) and a number of other institutions,” Hughes said at the time. “I want to commend you for that. I think this is a tremendously bold step and I think this puts Rutgers in the tradition of its founders.”

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