NJ’s Ciattarelli: Sanctuary Cities Bill ‘Reckless and Irresponsible’

Republican gubernatorial hopeful comes down against Dems’ immigration proposal.

Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli.
Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli. Max Pizarro for Observer

One of the leading Republican candidates in New Jersey’s gubernatorial race is coming out against a bill from state Democrats that would match any federal funding lost as a result of refusing to enforce new, stricter deportation policies. 13 municipalities in the state are declaring themselves “sanctuary cities” in the wake of increased deportations under President Donald Trump, and Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli is calling the cities’ opposition “reckless and irresponsible.”

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That move, he said, would flout the pecking order between the federal government and cities which he described as obligated to carry out successful presidential mandates. He pledged to veto the legislation if he becomes Governor Chris Christie’s successor next year.

“The whole concept of an elected official in the United States of America declaring their local jurisdiction a Sanctuary City is a threat to public safety and, quite frankly, at this point in time, mind-boggling,” Ciattarelli said. “I have long supported comprehensive immigration reform and believe we need to demonstrate some compassion in doing so, but adopting policies that actually encourage people to break federal law is both reckless and irresponsible.” 

Ciattarelli characterized the bill as a ploy to drive Democratic turnout, but stopped short of embracing Trump’s hard line on deporting any and all undocumented immigrants who encounter police or are charged with a crime.

“Maybe some Democrats – including Phil Murphy and the Mayors in many urban centers – feel it’s in their best political interests to pander for votes,” he said. “I have had my differences with Governor Christie, but he was absolutely right for promising to veto this disastrous legislation, and I would do the same if elected.

“We have reforms in place that work. Those reforms require that local police verify the legal status of anyone charged with a felony or drunk driving.  If the suspect is undocumented, federal authorities are to be informed.  Local law enforcement supports this approach.”

Ciattarelli’s main primary opponent, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, has walked a similarly fine line with respect to Trump’s ramping up of deportations. Guadagno said of Trump’s suspended executive order barring immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries that she supported the end but not the means.

“While I’m for stepping up vetting of immigration from certain countries with a history of terrorist ties to ensure America’s safety, I am concerned that the president’s executive order was hastily implemented,” Guadagno said.

NJ’s Ciattarelli: Sanctuary Cities Bill ‘Reckless and Irresponsible’