As the risk of ICE detention expands in the state, advocates push for programs and policies that keep families together

Trenton, NJ [June 28, 2024] - Amidst increasing hostility toward immigrants and an inflammatory Presidential debate, Trenton has released an FY25 budget that makes crucial investments in immigrants by including:

  • $1million for Language Access implementation
  • An $8.2 million allocation for the Detention and Deportation Defense Initiative
  • A $6 million partial restoration of legal services for Unaccompanied Minors and
  • A $3.07 million partial restoration for Hispanic Women’s Resource Centers.

The Governor also issued a proclamation to officially designate June as Immigrant Heritage Month in recognition of the contributions and profound impact of immigrants in New Jersey.

The budget passed amid fierce debate over immigration’s role in this November’s elections. Last night during the highly anticipated presidential debate, both candidates unfairly blamed immigration for the complex challenges our nation faces. Both President Biden and former President Trump sought to outdo each other as immigration hawks – often relying on false information about the border or by boasting their policies that strip basic human rights and protections for immigrants. While many have come to expect former President Trump to deploy racist stereotypes and dangerous tropes in his rhetoric, President Biden, who previously championed immigrant issues in his last campaign, seemed unwilling or unable to counter them. Trenton’s budget investments stand in stark contrast to this dynamic, though more must be done to fend off the political realities ahead.

"Against a hostile political climate, Trenton has rightly invested in immigrants and recommitted to standing against the polarization in Washington and the attacks on our communities," said Erik Cruz Morales of the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice. "This is not an easy budget year, and the rushed negotiation process and recent attacks on public records have been dark stains on our state’s transparency. But amidst these challenges, immigrants have proven that they are fierce organizers in defending their rights and the programs that protect them. Last night’s debate underscored that the time to expand programs and deepen the state’s commitments to immigrants is now."

“Today’s proclamation recognizing immigrant contributions and celebrating our diversity is an important one, and in the face of increasingly dangerous attacks against immigrants, we must fight for policies and budget investments that protect our communities year round,” said Amy Torres of New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice. “Today’s FY 25 budget makes takes steps to do exactly that, but the erosion of rights and the threats coming from Washington are happening at a pace that our state must exceed. There has been no clearer time to invest in immigrant legal services, stronger protections, and publicly funded programs to head off the worst of what may be ahead. We will stand with our members to keep our communities whole, empowered, and protected.”

Though not all budget documents are available for full review, the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ) will continue to work with coalition members, advocacy partners, and our elected representatives to ensure our communities receive their fair share of resources and programs. NJAIJ continues to push for protections for immigrant workers and against collaboration with ICE and an expansion of immigration detention. NJAIJ remains committed to collaborating in a cross-movement coalition for an inclusive New Jersey for all of us.


Amy Torres


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