NJ Assembly Approves Anti-Trump Port Authority Immigration Bill

Michael Booth, New Jersey Law Journal 

The New Jersey State Assembly has approved a bill that, if enacted, would bar the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the region's airports and seaports, from assisting federal authorities in enforcing President Donald Trump's recent attempts to bar citizens from several predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.

In a 48-25 vote split along party lines on Thursday, the Assembly approved S3006. It passed the Senate in a 22-13 vote on Feb. 13. It now goes to Republican Gov. Chris Christie, a staunch Trump supporter who is expected to veto the measure, but did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

"Some of the world's most desperate people are fleeing their home countries to seek safety in the United States. President Trump's ban is founded upon falsehoods—from the suggestion that refugees haven't already been thoroughly vetted to the notion that they want to cause Americans harm," said one of the sponsors in the lower house, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-Bergen, in a statement. "New Jersey is fundamentally opposed to this ill-conceived measure, and we must take steps to prevent its enforcement."

For the bill to have any effect, it must be signed by Christie and an identical measure would have to be enacted by New York's Legislature. Republicans who control the Senate in New York have blocked that state's version.

Democrats, who control the New Jersey Legislature, introduced the measures shortly after Trump, on Jan. 27, issued an executive order effectively banning immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Since then, immigration agents from the federal Department of Homeland Security have been conducting raids around the country targeting undocumented immigrants.

"Our constitutional rights as Americans are under assault so it is important that we demonstrate leadership showing that bigotry and discrimination have no place in our state or in our nation," said Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, in a statement.

The Senate approved the bill after Trump released a new executive order on March 6 that removed Iraq from the original list of countries affected. Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Syria remain on the list. The revised order, which was supposed to go into effect March 16, also will allow re-entry for those with dual citizenship, permanent resident status or who have been granted refugee status or asylum.

The original order was temporarily blocked Feb. 3 by a federal judge sitting in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle, acting on a lawsuit challenging the order brought by the state of Washington. On March 19, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson, sitting in Honolulu, blocked enforcement of the revised order, after a challenge was filed by the state of Hawaii.