The federal agency’s threat came a day after the New Jersey attorney general announced new restrictions on local law enforcement cooperation with ICE.
Federal agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement since April have conducted at least three major raids across New Jersey, arresting nearly 190 people suspected of being undocumented immigrants.
That followed a 12-month period during which ICE’s Newark, New Jersey, field office increased its arrest rate 42 percent during fiscal year 2017, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center.
Now, a day after New Jersey’s attorney general announced new rules restricting local law enforcement officers’ interaction with immigration agents, ICE is threatening even more raids.
A spokesman for the Newark office said in a statement Friday to NBC Philadelphia that New Jersey should expect increased arrests because of the new rules.
“The probability is that at large arrests and worksite enforcement operations, which already exist, will likely increase due to the fact that ICE ERO will no longer have the cooperation of the jails related to immigration enforcement,” ICE spokesman Emilio Dabul said in an email.
He added that since the agency’s “highest priority is public safety and enforcing immigration laws, we must pursue that to the best extent possible, which will likely involve more at large arrests and worksite enforcement operations.”
The threat is apparently in response to state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal’s “Immigrant Trust Directive” announced Thursday. It limits the type of voluntary assistance that law enforcement agencies provide to immigration authorities, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The new rules are meant to strengthen the trust between local law enforcement and immigrants in the state, Grewal said.
New Jersey has one of the highest undocumented immigrant populations in the nation, with an estimated 500,000 people living without legal citizenship as of 2014, according to the Pew Research Center.
By Brian X. McCrone and Rudy Chinchilla for NBC NEW YORK
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