NEWARK – In an oft-heated debate on Tuesday in which candidates diverged sharply on a dozen issues, one area where Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli held back was immigration.
Ciattarelli took a moderate tone and did not respond to a question about the Immigrant Trust Directive passed by Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration that limits local police cooperation with immigration law enforcement and customers in the United States.
Ciattarelli said the solution is a national immigration policy that puts undocumented migrants “on the path to recognition”. He said the country was not on the verge of deporting up to 16 million people.
He then moved on to another part of the issue to support driver’s licenses for unauthorized immigrants, which began to be issued in May under a law signed by Murphy. This differs from his position in a debate four months ago.
âAs for undocumented migrants getting a permit, I think it’s a great security measure,â Ciattarelli said. “They’re here. They’re not going anywhere. Let’s know who they are. Let’s give them a driver’s license. We don’t want people on our roads driving without a license, without insurance.
In the past, Ciattarelli has criticized the operations of the Murphy’s Motor Vehicle Commission for prioritizing “those who are here illegally” over citizens.
And at the May 25 Governors’ Primary Debate hosted by New Jersey 101.5, Ciattarelli said he would stop issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented migrants and criticized the Immigrant Trust Directive.
âUnfortunately we have a governor who seems to be encouraging illegal immigration when he walks around the state waving a victory flag because we are giving illegal drivers licenses or he wants to declare towns sanctuaries and sanctuary states, âCiattarelli said.
âUnder Governor Ciattarelli, we will not have sanctuary cities. We will not have sanctuary states, âhe said. “And my attorney general would never tell any local law enforcement community at the municipal or county level that they cannot partner with a federal agency like ICE to resolve any situation in their community.”
In response to a follow-up question from Eric Scott of New Jersey 101.5, Ciattarelli made similar remarks to Tuesday’s debate – but then said he would stop licensing.
âOn the one hand, from a security point of view, and I’ve talked to law enforcement about it, they like the idea that if people aren’t going to be deported, we should know who they are and where. they are. And that’s one thing a government issued ID provides, because otherwise we lack security in our community, âCiattarelli said. âAt the same time, I would end the program.
In Tuesday’s debate, Ciattarelli also noted his vote in 2013 to allow undocumented students to qualify for state tuition.
âI voted for the DREAM Act,â he said. “I was one of the few Republicans who did this because we are not going to deny the young people who came here without any power the opportunity to pursue their American dream.”
Four Republicans in the assembly voted for the bill, which then-Gov. Chris Christie signed the law in December 2013.
Murphy responded to the question about the Immigrant Trust Directive, calling it a “big step” that encourages cooperation between communities and the police.
âWhen we were running four years ago, there were a lot of people who wanted to cross that thread between law enforcement and immigration status,â Murphy said. âThese threads have been uncrossed forever, and that’s the right thing. You have a more secure state.
Ciattarelli went on to steer the conversation towards taxes.
Michael Symons is the State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at [email protected].
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