The United States has been the top destination for international migrants since at least 1960. Despite its long history of immigration, the United States has oscillated between perceiving immigration as a valuable resource and as a major challenge. Now even more than before, immigration is closely tied to discussions about the U.S. economy and global competitiveness, national security, and the country’s role in humanitarian protection at a time of record global displacement. – Migration Policy Institute
President Trump and AG Jeff Sessions with their anti-immigration policies tinged with “America First,” anti-Muslim sentiment, and White Supremacist policies, reflect the worst in us. However, in New Jersey we see the better nature of Americans. Let’s look at what’s been happening here recently.
Fortunately Governor Murphy takes a progressive approach. He wants to create an agency to protect immigrants and help them navigate the federal immigration bureaucracy. His budget includes $2.1 million to support non-profit groups providing legal assistance to those facing detention or deportation. Our Attorney General Gurbir Grewal joined a multi-state filing supporting San Francisco’s lawsuit claiming the Trump administration violated the constitution by withholding law enforcement grants from cities that limit cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The New Jersey State Senate yesterday passed two key pieces of legislation. Bill S699 gives financial aid to unauthorized immigrants (passed 26-10 with all 10 being Republicans) and bill S700 gives financial aid to American-born children of unauthorized immigrants (passed 36-0). Make the Road New Jersey urges us to stand up for “Education not Deportation.” Neither bill has yet passed the Assembly. The bills will make college a reality for thousands of NJ students. To read more check out Erika’s story here.
Cosecha is a nonviolent movement fighting for permanent protection, dignity, and respect for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Cosecha NJ is demanding a NJ driver’s license bill that will provide undocumented immigrant families access to a driver’s licenses that protects their information from being shared with ICE. Such will boost the state economy, make our roads safer, and will allow undocumented immigrants to drive without fear. The only piece missing is political will from NJ legislators.
Cosecha held rallies in Perth Amboy, New Brunswick and Newark this past weekend, and has scheduled rallies in Atlantic City on April 15 and in Trenton on April 21.
Refugees, people whose lives are threatened if they are forced to return to their country of origin, are our most endangered immigrants. The group includes Central Americans and many from other countries. The Trump administration has ramped up procedures to reduce the number of legitimate claimants, to speed up their court hearings, to deport them more rapidly, to request judges be less lenient, and to close many refugee centers. Last year, 253 refugees found sanctuary in New Jersey – down from 601 in 2016. So far this year, just 23 have made their way here. Despite the record number today of displaced people internationally, the Trump administration is on track to take in the smallest number of refugees since Congress passed a law in 1980 creating the modern resettlement system.
Preview Image above: Jersey City residents like Steve Willett (top left) rally to support Jersey City Council resolution in support immigrant rights.