New Brunswick, NJ — Nearly 120 Rutgers University faculty members have signed an open letter to the school president in protest of the RU Police Department’s arrest of an undocumented immigrant for drunk driving and endangering passersby.
According to the police report, the man was flagged by police at 2:05 a.m. on September 29. He now faces 10 charges, including driving while intoxicated, having an open container, running a red light, turn signal failure, and failing to maintain his lane.
While that was enough to land him in court, the man, Luiz Alberto Lopez Lopez, 28, also handed the RU police a fraudulent Mexican driver’s license, according to an exclusive copy of the police report obtained by PJ Media.
Since he was driving on a busy intersection, he was also charged with endangerment.
Prior to his arrest, Lopez had allegedly lived in the United States for ten years and had no criminal record. He also is married to an American citizen and has an American child, reported Telemundo shortly after the arrest.
“He deserves the opportunity to stay in this country, he did make a mistake, but it is a mistake that can be paid with a fine,” Reynalda Cruz, an immigration activist in New Jersey, told Telemundo.
After his arrest, Lopez was detained for about seven hours before being turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). While collaborating with ICE is controversial, RU spokesman Dory Devlin said the school only did so due to state law.
“Rutgers University follows a state policy that requires notification of ICE when a person is arrested for an indictable offense, a DWI or other serious violations and there are questions related to immigration status,” Devlin told PJ Media.
“This is not a Rutgers policy, but a policy required of all law enforcement agencies in New Jersey and guided by the 2007 Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Directive,” added Devlin, citing New Jersey law directive No. 2007-3.
The open letter in protest of the arrest was first reported by the November 20 print edition of The Daily Targum; the newspaper’s website retracted the article shortly after publication, for no clear reason.
At initial press time, 19 professors had signed the letter “End RUPD Collaboration with ICE,” which stresses the need for RU to be a “safe haven.”
The letter goes on to demand that RU President Robert Barchi flout state law.
“We call upon you now to speak loudly and forcefully by issuing clear directives to the [RU] Police… that they are not to inquire about or report any individuals’ immigration status, and that they must not detain people for rendition to ICE.”
While Rutgers has indeed claimed to be a “safe haven” for undocumented students, a responsibility that they appear to take seriously, Devlin stressed that Rutgers “will not hold anyone on an ICE detainer request absent a judicial order.”
Since The Daily Targum’s November 20 report, an additional 100 professors signed on to the letter demanding that RU police never contact ICE. Lopez remains in detention in an Elizabeth, NJ, immigration facility, according to the report.
President Barchi has not yet released an official statement. Anthropology professor Rob Scott told NJ-12 News: “If he doesn’t give a response? Well, he looks bad, right? President Barchi, if you’re seeing this, respond. You’ll look better.”
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