In the face of Trump’s bigoted, racist, America First, and White Supremacist immigration policies, New Jerseyans have responded. The most urgent need is for federal, comprehensive legislation that resolves the status of unauthorized immigrants and provides a clear path forward to citizenship. As prospects for such federal legislation soon are dim, we must look to what we can do within our own state.
Below are issues that call for demonstrations, appeals to legislators, and educating the broad public to gain support.
Higher Education Financial Aid for immigrants was a promise from Gov. Murphy. The Senate has passed S699 and S700 which allows certain students including undocumented immigrants to qualify for State student financial aid programs. The Assembly has not yet voted on the matter. Taking action: You can sign a petition, contact your legislator, or recruit supporters here. Some who oppose this: LD 10 District legislators Holzapfel, Wolfe & McGuckin claim that less financial aid will be available for students who follow the rules.” However, the Office of Legislative Services determined that “the additional cost of other State student assistance programs under the bill would be minimal.”
Driver licenses was a promise from Gov. Murphy Murphy. A bill in the Legislature calls for the issuance of a NJ driver’s license to a person who satisfies the requirements for the issuance but cannot provide proof of lawful presence in the United States. It has been referred to committee in the Assembly as A1738 and in the Senate as S1340. Taking action: Cosecha New Jersey ( Facebook) is holding rallies in Atlantic City on Sunday, April 15 and in Trenton on Saturday, April 21. For more info go to NJ Alliance for Immigration Justice (facebook) and Cosecha. Some who who oppose this: Ocean County’s 9th district, Republican Sen. Chistopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman Dianne C. Gove, said, “We vehemently oppose offering driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. It would create a host of security issues for our state. And it could create havoc for the state’s DMVC.” Here language is important as they use the phrase “illegal aliens,” commonly thought of as pejorative rather than unauthorized immigrants more in common use now. It will make roads safer because immigrants would have to pass a drivers test.
Medical: Another bill (A417) would require our Department of Homeland Security to take action to raise public awareness of privacy laws that prevent disclosure of health care enrollment information to immigration authorities. This is important because our State’s immigrant population lacks adequate awareness about these privacy protections, and is, therefore, less likely to apply for and receive health care benefits under the State’s Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare programs. Immigrants have an unfounded fear that disclosure of their health care enrollment information will lead to their deportation or the undertaking of other adverse immigration-related action against them.
ID cards They are city-issued photo identification cards that allow unauthorized New Jerseyans to open bank accounts, rent books at public libraries, sign leases or even get married. NJ Immigrant Justice provides more information and a list of municipalities which issue I. D. cards here. If your municipality does not offer them contact your mayor and council and get others involved.
In the midst of this immigrant crisis, it’s how we respond that defines us. In spite of President Trump and AG Jeff Sessions there is is plenty we can do in New Jersey.
More issues that we can address in our state will be included in the next installment of this series. To access all articles in the series go to the SEARCH function above and enter: Immigration Yesterday Today Tomorrow or click on the slider on the front page when you see the immigration series featured.