An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano that would bar state and local agencies from revealing a person’s religious affiliation to the federal government or assisting in the compilation of any registry based on religion, nationality or ethnicity.
“This legislation was prompted, in part, by real concerns among constituents that there is a threat to religious freedom under the current federal administration,” said Quijano (D-Union). “In addition to the continuing efforts to ban immigration from certain Muslim-majority countries, we’ve heard talk both on the campaign trail and since the inauguration about establishing a religious or ethnic-based registry. This bill is preemptive in nature, should any sort of registry be pursued federally, so that we can ensure that the freedoms and rights of New Jersey residents are protected.”
Specifically, the bill (A-4708) would prohibit personally identifiable information regarding religious beliefs, practices, affiliation, or one’s national origin or ethnicity from being disclosed to the federal government by State and local governments.
This would prohibit state and local law enforcement officers and authorities from collecting information about an individual’s religious beliefs, practices, or affiliations, except when the information is specifically relevant to a targeted investigation of that individual, when necessary to investigate a crime of bias intimidation, or for the purpose of providing religious accommodations.
The bill also prohibits the use of state and local government money, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to:
– Investigate or enforce (or assist in the investigation or enforcement of) any criminal, civil, or administrative violation, or warrant for a violation, of any requirement that individuals register their religion, national origin, or ethnicity with the federal government; and
– Assist in the creation, implementation, or enforcement of any government program compiling a list, registry, or database of personally identifiable information about individuals based on religious affiliation, national origin, or ethnicity.
This bill was approved by the Assembly State and Local Government Committee. It would take effect immediately upon enactment.