NEW JERSEY FOR ALL – 2020 POLICY PLATFORM
The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ) is a statewide coalition of almost 40 faith, labor, and community organizations that promote policies in New Jersey to support immigrants to become rooted economically, politically, and socially within the state. NJAIJ will advance the New Jersey for All campaign, focusing on the policy priorities directly impacting immigrant communities across the state. As the federal government ramps up attacks on immigrant communities, we look to our state and local governments to stand with immigrants.
In 2020, our primary priority campaign will be to work towards Fair and Welcoming legislation and policies in New Jersey, our secondary priority campaign will be to ensure the successful implementation of expanded access to driver's licenses and we will be supporting the efforts of New Jersey For Health Care coalition to expand coverage to health to all children in New Jersey.
In response to the Covid19 pandemic and relief efforts, the New Jersey Alliance For Immigrant Justice is calling on state and federal leadership to include all residents regardless of immigration status in income relief efforts.
COVID19 Disaster Relief Efforts
As our communities are fighting the worst public health and economic crisis in our lifetimes, the current White House administration is continuing to push xenophobic policies that scapegoat immigrants who are also left out of the federal government’s recovery and aid efforts. The Senate has passed multiple coronavirus aid bills in response to the Covid19 economic crisis that again excludes immigrants by cutting out households that use ITIN to pay taxes.
Immigrants are essential workers who are helping to flatten the Coronavirus curve by caring for the sick as health care professionals and by helping to ensure we have access to life’s necessities as food service, grocery store, agricultural and warehouse workers.
Immigrants must be included in the government's response to this pandemic. To keep our communities healthy and well, we need to ensure that any form of relief reaches all of our neighbors.
Fair and Welcoming New Jersey
With the leadership of the NJAIJ Fair and Welcoming Committee, New Jersey has made great strides in limiting law enforcement working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). We were able to successfully advocate for the replacement of the Attorney General Directive 2007-03, which required local police departments to inquire about the immigration status of certain arrestees and share it with ICE, with the new Immigrant Trust Directive, which limits the interactions between ICE and local law enforcement. Attorney General Grewal also effectively banned 287(g) agreements from the state, making New Jersey a leader in the fight against contracts and cooperation agreements with ICE.
Unfortunately, there is still more work to be done in our state. Three counties – Bergen, Essex and Hudson, still have Intergovernmental Service Agreements (IGSA) through the rental of county jail space to ICE for immigration detention and CoreCivic runs a private ICE detention facility in Elizabeth, NJ. The federal government continues to erode the trust between our communities and government agencies through public charge rules and limiting refugee resettlement. Safe spaces are still not safe, and families are being separated daily. New Jersey can do more to limit all interactions with ICE and denounce anti-immigrant policies at every level of government.
Ending Immigration Detention in New Jersey
NJAIJ is gearing up to move to the next phase of this campaign, by urging the state legislature to declare New Jersey a Fair and Welcoming state through legislation that will codify the progress made with the Immigrant Trust Directive, and address many of the other causes behind the detention and deportation of our immigrant brothers and sisters.
Let's Drive NJ Campaign - Implementing Access to Driver's Licenses to All
An effort that has been advocated by various organizations as early as 2003, with policy proposals made to the Corzine and Christie administrations, finally saw major progress with the passage of A4743 in December 2019. The NJAIJ Driver’s Licenses Committee coordinated and planned the Let’s Drive NJ campaign, bringing in close to 90 organizations that endorsed the legislative effort.
This is a major win for our communities, and it is now up to us to make sure every New Jerseyan who qualifies has the right information and is ready to apply for a driver’s license in the state of New Jersey. While we wait for the Motor Vehicles Commission (MVC) to announce the official implementation date, community organizations across the state are urging their members and clients to prepare and be careful about possible fraud.
The implementation phase of this type of legislation has been a heavy lift in many states, which is why the NJAIJ will continue to coordinate this campaign by ensuring we are still included in conversations with MVC, the Governor’s office, and any other agencies involved in the implementation. As well as supporting our members and partners across the state as they are in the front lines, educating community members on the issue.
Expanding Access to Health Care
Low-income immigrant families face significant barriers to accessing health care. Federal law bars undocumented immigrants from public health insurance programs, and even lawful permanent residents are statutorily prohibited from obtaining Medicaid for their first five years of residence in the U.S. Other states such as New York and Illinois have provided state coverage lawful permanent residents, but New Jersey has lagged behind in extending benefits to all greencard holders. In addition, states like California have created programs that would allow all residents to have access to healthcare, decrease costs, and lessen the strain on emergency rooms for primary care.
NJAIJ believes that access to healthcare is a right, not a privilege, for all. In our quest for healthcare coverage for all, we have decided to support the Cover all Kids campaign, led by the New Jersey For Healthcare Coalition, including NJ Citizen Action and New Jersey Policy Perspective. We will continue to be at the table as this campaign moves forward, bringing the voices of our communities to the campaign, and fielding information back to our members and partners so families are informed on healthcare services available to them.
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