New Jersey’s statewide immigration coalition calls for a renewed focus on local immigration reforms

Newark, NJ [February 8, 2023] — Following last night's State of the Union Address, NJAIJ calls on Congress to act on immigration reform and urges State leadership to refocus efforts on public policies that protect immigrants left behind by Washington's inaction.

In the 2023 State of the Union, President Biden claimed he is committed to giving 'no safe harbor to hate and extremism in any form,' yet the policies his administration backs tell a different story. Last night, the only immigration proposals the President spoke of in detail were ones with more lethal consequences — militarized border personnel, increased surveillance, and denying asylum.

Immigrants are our family members, caregivers, workers, students, and neighbors. Yet in the President's speech, the topic of immigration was raised in the same breath as smugglers and fentanyl seizures. The remarks recalled the dangerous 'drug dealers, criminals, and rapists' rhetoric of the Trump administration, who used that narrative to enact some of the most regressive and deadly border and immigration enforcement policies of our lifetimes. President Biden appears intent on following that same playbook: painting immigrants not as people who are seeking safety, but people who are a threat to it.

In the new Congress, there appear to be no serious proposals to provide a pathway to citizenship to the 11 million people who deserve it, including Dreamers whose protections will be ripped away without further action. After the President’s address, it is now clear that the responsibility to enact policies that empower and protect immigrants falls back on State governments. 

At NJAIJ, we reject the false choice that immigration reform can only happen as a concession to border militarization. It is precisely because border enforcement and pathways to citizenship have become so harsh, restrictive, and unattainable that our immigration system is in the dire shape it now is. While the work with Congress must continue, we call on our State government leaders to act on local solutions and with the compassion and courage that is absent in Washington.

New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ) is the state’s largest immigration coalition. NJAIJ uses the power and strength of 50+ member organizations to fight for policies that empower and protect immigrants.