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Going After Bad Guys Remains Immigration Agency’s Priority, Official Says

Newark-based ICE director has no word on what Trump administration could mean for application of immigration law

National security, public safety, and border security remain the “highest priorities” for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau, according to John Tsoukaris, director of ICE’s Newark field office.

In a wide-ranging interview with NJTV news correspondent Michael Hill, Tsoukaris, when asked what moves he anticipated the new Trump administration might make in relation to immigration, said he did not have “any insight on what the new administration will be doing in terms of immigration enforcement.”

In the wake of the presidential election, some immigration advocates in New Jersey have called for towns not to cooperate with ICE, in particular on its 287(g) program, which deputizes local authorities to assist in aspects of ICE’s approach to those who are undocumented.

Tsoukaris said, “Particularly in New Jersey, we’re only doing the jail model, which means that we’re training certain corrections officers in immigration law and procedures to assist ICE officers … at the end of the day this whole 287(g) program is all about public safety.”

ICE is also concentrating on “targeted enforcement operations,” he said. “We focus on the highest priority individuals … who were convicted of a felony, multiple misdemeanors, involved in gang activity, they may pose a threat to national security.”

And, he said, “We always use our discretion, so just because someone is illegal and going to college here doesn’t necessarily mean that that person’s a priority for removal.”

Read the full interview on NJTV Online, a content partner of NJ Spotlight.

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