OPINION: New Jersey can fix its immigration system without losing its moral compass

ABOVE: Derived from public domain at Wikimedia Commons

A letter to the editor by Heather Larson of Mount Holly

Dear Editor,

I am responding to a letter from Peter Armenia printed in the January 19th edition of APP.com. Mr. Armenia was worried about New Jersey not upholding the rule of law (federal) when it comes to sanctuary cites.  He claims this will “loosen the foundation of our republic” and alluded to this being a precursor to another civil war.

First of all, anyone worried about New Jersey becoming a sanctuary state should think about this: When someone is arrested for a crime, their fingerprint is entered into a national database. ICE is then alerted if there is a match and then they can locate them that way.

Second, saying that sanctuary states, counties and cities are breaking the law by simply existing is simply not true. The federal law actually does not require local police to detain undocumented immigrants for ICE. ICE has sole responsibility for immigration issues. Police have a duty to protect their city. They arrest criminals. They can hand over criminals to ICE if it is in the best interest of the victim, country, etc. Law abiding undocumented immigrants are more likely to help local law enforcement catch these criminals and others when they do not fear deportation. This not only helps law enforcement, it helps the city. I would rather know that the immigrants who are here without documentation are going to report crime, not be afraid of being deported and therefore keep important information to themselves.

And last, as for worrying about bringing us to the brink of another civil war, I see Mr. Armenia’s point. South Carolina didn’t want federal law telling them what to do-especially when it came to slavery. Anger built up, North and South divided, states succeeded and ignored laws, Lincoln came in and boom, war. All I can say to that is, with how we are divided now, I am a tiny bit concerned. I certainly hope for all of our sakes, we don’t go there.

Yes, it is a federal law that people must enter the United States with approved documentation. But slavery was a federal law too. Many of us believe that we are going the wrong way about how we treat the law abiding immigrants. Many, including myself, want to be a country that is compassionate about the person/family’s situation, not raiding houses and businesses with guns drawn and terrorizing families. Not tearing apart people who have only tried to make a better life and their only flaw is documentation.

We have to fix the immigration system without losing our moral compass or impeding on the responsibilities of local police. In the meantime, being a sanctuary state for law abiding, undocumented immigrants will help us live up to this necessity.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this letter are the author’s only.

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