ROSELLE -- Mayor Christine Dansereau this week declared the borough a "sanctuary municipality," signing an executive order despite reservations from all but one of the council members.
"We have 47 percent of our population who are immigrants," Dansereau said during the council meeting.
In her order, Dansereau said borough police and municipal employees will not participate in the registration or reporting of people based on race, religion, ethnicity, national origin or immigration status.
Dansereau, earlier this month, had urged borough council members to pass a resolution declaring a sanctuary municipality, but several members voiced concerns and questions about the implications.
Just after Dansereau read the executive order at a meeting this week, Councilman Yves Aubourg said other members of the governing body attacked the mayor for her proposal.
"The mayor got beaten up last week," said Aubourg, who thanked Dansereau for "doing the right thing" in issuing the order.
Other council members disputed Aubourg's characterization of their comments towards the mayor.
"There was no beating up of the mayor. No one said this was something the council wasn't willing to do," said Councilman Samuel Bishop.
Councilman Reginald Atkins suggested that the designation as a "sanctuary" could put the borough at risk of losing about $500,000 in federal funding. He suggested that the borough should instead designate itself as a "welcoming community."
Some pointed out that while the order asserts that borough police will not facilitate deportations by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, it also says that the police must comply with federal and state laws.
Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union) praised the executive order, and faulted the use of police in federal immigration enforcement.
"Asking local police to become immigration agents will make us less safe because the hard earned credibility or relationships that communities with undocumented immigrants have built with law enforcement partners will deteriorate," Quijano said.
The executive order says the borough will continue the municipal ID program, providing identification cards to any resident over age 14 regardless of their immigration documentation.
Members of the immigrants rights group Make the Road New Jersey also lauded the order.
"By ensuring ICE will not be permitted on Roselle property, the borough sends a clear message that it values its immigrant community and rejects Trump's policies of hate," said Sara Cullinane, director of the group.