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Friday, April 12, 2024


Sheriff Continues Immigration Directive Challenge

Cape May County Sheriff Robert Nolan

By Vince Conti

COURT HOUSE – Sheriff Robert Nolan is continuing his challenge to a 2018 state attorney general directive that limits the participation of state law enforcement agencies in enforcing federal immigration law.  

Nolan’s litigation recently reached the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard oral arguments in the case. 

The lawsuit originated under the Trump administration, when Cape May County, along with Ocean and Monmouth counties, challenged Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s restrictions on what aid state and municipal law enforcement agencies could provide to federal immigration officials concerning an inmate’s documented or undocumented status.  

A federal judge dismissed the case in a 53-page opinion ( issued in July 2020. The court ruled New Jersey had the right to issue the directive. The plaintiff counties appealed. 

Jeffrey Lindsay, who represents Nolan in the appeal, told the Third Circuit judicial panel that “by prohibiting personal identifying information, you are obstructing federal law, you are obstructing the INS’ ability to do their job.”  

In its brief to the court (, Ocean County made the similar argument that federal law preempts the state’s regulations on what information can be and should be collected and shared. 

The arguments against the directive were met with stiff questioning by the judicial panel. Judge Thomas Hardiman, a George W. Bush appointee, questioned whether the specific issue is moot given the changes in administrations and immigration policy. 

However the case is resolved, in Cape May County, the issue has shown the ability to generate political support for Nolan and the county commissioners, who also opposed the directive. 

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