A day after New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram ordered local law enforcement agencies to start inquiring about the immigration status of the people they arrest, local officials and advocates for immigrants began grappling with how the edict would change the already complicated relationship between the authorities and immigrants on the streets they patrol, reports the New York Times. In some places like Englewood, where the police estimate that up to a fifth of the population of 26,000 are illegal immigrants, the authorities have long asked about immigration status. Milgram's order was motivated by the arrest of an illegal immigrant who was out on bail, his status unknown to the authorities, in a brutal triple homicide.
Critics expressed particular concern about the consequences for victims of domestic violence, who are often already reluctant to report their partners to the police. Shai Goldstein of the New Jersey Immigration Policy Network predicted unintended consequences. “A mutual assault situation: Who's the victim?” he asked. “How do you ferret that out? A domestic abuse situation – one spouse may want the other punished, but not deported. Is it going to have a chilling effect on reporting domestic violence?”