Immigration debate heats up in Old Bridge over potential suit against NJ, AG

Old Bridge resident Kendal Karten explains why she opposes a township council resolution to allow the municipal attorney to investigate filing a lawsuit against the state at the Aug. 5 public meeting.

BY Christopher Lang, Correspondent, @topherlang2, MonroeNow, Aug 27, 2019

OLD BRIDGE – The township council instructed its attorney to examine filing a lawsuit against the state saying it is violating the U.S. Constitution, federal laws, and issuing “illegal” orders to law enforcement when it comes to dealing with illegal immigrants.

The resolution passed 7-2 at the Aug. 5 meeting, with objections from council members Edina Brown and Dave Merwin.

The adopted resolution said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal violate federal laws by directing local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The local discussion was reflective of the national debate in many communities that has taken place about immigration.

“I would argue that this lawsuit promotes the tyranny of government under the guise of safety,” said Kendal Karten. “It would stoke fear in law-abiding persons who are positive contributing members of our community. I am an American who believes in the rights guaranteed by our Constitution.”

Ian Erickson, who spoke after the council made its decision, supported the members who voted in affirmation of the resolution.

“From my understanding, undocumented worker, illegal immigrant, regardless of the term you want to use they are still breaking the law,” he said, adding that it seems “people are being awarded for breaking the law.”

The Attorney General’s directive applies to state and local law enforcement, including those working in the penitentiary system and the courts.

The new rules went into effect in March. The goal is to enhance the trust level between community members and those responsible for enforcing the law.

Councilman Mark Razzoli said the resolution was about public safety and national security, adding it had nothing to do with race or politics.

“… National security and public safety are not issues that can be swept aside and the safety of Americans should not be treated as an afterthought,” Razzoli said. “Placing illegal immigrants’ safety over American citizens is egregiously anti-American, even by far-left socialists’ standards. I’m a proud-to-be American. I kneel in church. I stand for the national anthem.”

Councilwoman Brown, the only African American on the governing body, took issue with comments from Razzoli and questioned if her peers had ever been “called the N-word,” and that she was “disgusted,” and “shaking with anger,” over his comments.

“The fact that you come up here and you have yelled at people and call everybody who doesn’t agree with you a socialist … I don’t agree with you [and] I’m not a socialist,” Brown said. “I am a person who is affected. What harm have you seen done by any immigrants here more than any other race of people that you have to bring this up? Leave national issues where they are, state issues where they are and take care of Old Bridge.”

Other council members agreed with Razzoli that the measure, which he sponsored, was a public safety issue and not about immigration.

“It’s not about people here illegally … it’s about criminals. When you are arrested in town and you have biometrics that go into a database, it is to retrieve the criminals,” said Council Vice President Anita Greenberg-Belli.