New mayor declares Hoboken ‘fair and welcoming city’

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HOBOKEN -

Hoboken’s new mayor wasted no time before issuing his first decree for 2018.

Mayor Ravi Bhalla because New Jersey’s first Sikh mayor Monday when he was sworn in at City Hall.

Bhalla’s first official act as mayor was to sign an executive order declaring Hoboken a “fair and welcoming city.” This means that police and other officials cannot use city resources to enforce federal immigration laws except when they are legally required to do so.

Bhalla says that his order differs from other “sanctuary city” ordinances that have passed. But the full policies of the order have not yet been released.

Police departments statewide operate under a 2008 state attorney general's order that spells out specifically when police should ask people about their immigration status, and when they should not.

Bhalla and Hoboken Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante both say that the new policy adheres to that directive. People who commit serious crimes will be reported to immigration authorities, but no one else, especially victims, will be asked about their status.

“It’s going to lower victimization. Because what happens is, those that are undocumented that become victims of crimes, unfortunately, there’s people that prey on them,” Ferrante said.

Bhalla is the son of immigrants. He was endorsed by outgoing Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer who did not seek re-election.

He was the target of racist campaign fliers and false news articles, including one saying he had cancelled Christmas in the city this year.

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