Mayor of Newark defends city's sanctuary policies amid ICE crackdown

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- The mayor of Newark is defending his city's sanctuary policies for immigrants as President Trump's administration is cracking down on undocumented workers like never before.

The idea that ICE agents are targeting cities like Newark has made many in the immigrant community nervous about their futures.

"It's a lot of frustration, but at the same time, I see this as a moment to uplift and mobilize our communities," said Erika Martinez with Make the Road New Jersey.

It has been announced that ICE agents are going to beef up enforcement in places considered to be sanctuary cities -- where local and state laws are on the books to protect the undocumented population.

"We'll continue to do what we've been doing, trying to make sure we take care of the residents of this community - whether they're documented or not," said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.

Baraka says he is proud that Newark is a sanctuary city, but he said he will not get any early warning if ICE agents move in to pick up undocumented immigrants.

"It does nothing but hurt these cities, it hurts folks who are trying to become American," Baraka said.

Federal authorities say they are stepping up efforts in sanctuary cities. Acting ICE Director Matthew T. Albence released the following statement:

"As we have noted for years, in jurisdictions where we are not allowed to assume custody of aliens from jails, our officers are forced to make at-large arrests of criminal aliens who have been released into communities."

ICE says those situations are time-consuming and need a lot of manpower.

But immigrants say it only promotes mistrust and causes panic.

"Even though this is something horrible and it's terrorizing our communities, we want to be prepared and we want our community to know what their rights are," Martinez said.

----------
* Get Eyewitness News Delivered
* More New Jersey news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Copyright © 2020 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.