Immigrants’ Rights Advocates Call on New Jersey to Use State Power to Protect Immigrants


Advocates call on state leadership to do more to shield immigrants from Trump administration’s attacks

In light of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement that the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice will be bringing a lawsuit against the state of California due to their policies limiting the use of local and state resources for Federal immigration enforcement, immigrants’ rights advocates across New Jersey released the following statement:

The Trump administration’s lawsuit against California is another racist attack on immigrant communities and a baseless attempt to block state and local laws that protect communities and increase public safety. Federal courts have overwhelmingly ruled against the Trump administration’s anti-immigration policies including the racist travel bans on Muslim-majority countries, and lawsuits brought by the administration against localities and cities which limit cooperation with ICE. We are confident that courts will yet again uphold the constitution and protect American values.

New Jersey sent a strong message last month by joining a lawsuit that challenges the Trump administration’s policy to block funding to cities and jurisdictions that limit the use of local resources on federal immigration enforcement. New Jersey’s participation shows that the Garden State values its immigrant communities and will stand by cities and jurisdictions that choose to use their resources for community policing and public safety.

As the federal landscape continues to look bleak for immigrant communities, with no permanent solution for Dreamers and their families while the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is being litigated in the courts, the phasing out of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and escalating arrests and deportations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), immigrants’ rights advocates call on state leadership to take steps to continue to stand up to the Trump administration’s mass deportation scheme. This includes using the power of the state to ensure that local resources are not used to conduct federal immigration enforcement activities and to proactively protect the privacy of all residents by placing clear limitations on the data that state and local agencies collect.

“New Jersey can support making our entire state safer by implementing Fair and Welcoming state policies, thereby limiting local, county, and state cooperation with ICE which puts entire communities at risk,” said Johanna Calle, Director of New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice. “The legislature can also pass common-sense policy expanding access to driver's licenses to all qualified NJ residents, regardless of status. A routine traffic stop, such as getting pulled over for driving without a license, could put an individual at risk of deportation.”

“States and local jurisdictions should not be strong-armed into diverting local resources to pay for the work of the federal government,” said Farrin Anello, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU of New Jersey. “We’re proud that New Jersey is challenging the Trump administration’s unconstitutional attempt to intimidate fair and welcoming jurisdictions nationwide. When survivors of crime and witnesses are afraid to speak to police because of local collaboration with federal immigration enforcement, our communities become less safe.”

“In the past two years, we have seen ICE increase their efforts to arrest and detain average folks, including moms and dads dropping their kids to schools, Indonesian migrants seeking refuge in New Jersey from religious persecution, and even victims of violence seeking protective orders in courthouses. They do not deserve to be whisked away by ICE without notice,” said Chia-Chia Wang, Advocacy and Organizing Director of American Friends Service Committee.Immigrant communities need to be able to trust that law enforcement’s first concern is public safety, not deporting immigrants. New Jersey’s leadership must take action to protect people from the escalating attacks on immigrant communities and families within the state.”

"New Jersey state officials must not be intimidated by the racist bullying of the federal government," said Olga Armas, member-leader of Make the Road New Jersey. "Here in New Jersey, we rely on our local officials to serve and protect us. I want to make sure that the police will protect me and I want to feel safe dropping my kids off at school. We must continue to champion New Jersey values that respect diversity, inclusion, public safety, and fairness for our families."

New Jersey’s has the third largest foreign-born population in the United States, including over 53,000 young immigrants who are eligible to benefit from the DACA program. Additionally, neither the constitution nor United State’s statute law mandate that states participate in federal immigrant efforts. New Jersey lawmakers must remain steadfast in protecting our communities and prioritizing public safety.  By implementing fair and welcoming policies statewide, New Jersey will ensure that local resources are used to address local and state needs, shield our immigrant neighbors and families from harmful ICE enforcement practices, and stand up to the Trump administration’s coercive tactics and racist mass deportation scheme.