Immigrants Gather in Trenton For National Immigrants Day

For Immediate Release

Press Contact: Michelle Ancil, [email protected],  (609) 699-2925

Trenton, NJ [October 27, 2022] – New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ) hosted a Trenton Day of Action in commemoration of National Immigrants Day, which celebrates immigrant contributions and marks the anniversary of the Statue of Liberty’s construction. NJAIJ’s Day of Action included recognition from Assembly Member Haider at the start of the voting session and over 30 legislative meetings on core NJAIJ policy priorities

“It’s important for New Jersey’s legislature to recognize the history of immigrant contributions to our state. There is an urgent need for immigrant justice issues to receive greater priority in Trenton. Sadly, our communities are wrongfully painted as being ‘too new to matter’ in politics,” said Laura Bustamante, Policy & Campaigns Manager with New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice. “But the truth is, immigrants are the builders of this state and make up a rapidly growing share of the electorate. We are proud to stand with our members today and will continue our fight to achieve a New Jersey for all of us, regardless of immigration status or place of birth.”

“As the state’s largest immigration coalition, today’s recognition was both humbling and a call to action. Recognition for immigrant contributions is rare and dignity for our communities is long overdue. We are privileged to have met with so many allies and receptive members of the legislature today,” said Amy Torres, Executive Director with New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice. “But we will continue the fight to be seen and heard. It will not be enough to simply recognize immigrant communities until our communities recognize themselves in the policies and priorities that pass into law.”

The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ), convenes over 50 member organizations that fight for policies to empower and protect immigrants. Community members, organizers, and advocates gathered to raise awareness of and garner support for NJAIJ core priorities, including passing the Values Act (S512 / A1986), New Jersey’s Language Access Bill (S2459 / A3837), and the Data Disaggregation Bill  (S2415). At noon, NJAIJ members gathered on the chamber floor and stood in observation during Assembly Member Haider’s point of privilege on commemorating National Immigrants Day.

As an immigrant myself, this is a very special day. From the dawn of our nation, immigrants have been integral to the story of America, and we remain woven into every corner, every community and every aspect of our society,” said Assembly Member Haider, one of the first South Asian and Muslim women elected to the New Jersey Legislature. “We are foundational to the strength of our country, and that’s why I wear my immigration status with such pride.”

Nearly one in four New Jerseyans is an immigrant, and New Jersey has the second highest proportion of immigrants to the total population in the nation. NJAIJ’s priority bills create stronger protections for the immigrant and BIPOC communities that make up a growing majority of the state.

“As America’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, CAIR is deeply invested in supporting public policy and legislative efforts that seek to promote justice and protect and empower marginalized communities, especially American Muslims,” said Madina P. Ouedraogo, Government Affairs Manager for the Council on American-Islamic Relations - New Jersey. “American Muslims represent the most ethnic diversity within religious groups in America. As such, CAIR-NJ supports language access legislation, which is critical to bridging the gaps between marginalized and non-English speaking communities and public resources. If language access legislation (S2459 / A3837) passes, the state would be required to provide translation and interpretation services in the 15 most common non-English languages per U.S. Census data."

NJAIJ convened a member orientation to prepare organizers and advocates to speak to legislators about the importance and urgency of these bills and provide a space to network, mentor, and meet allies across advocacy organizations. 

“Immigrants are part of the fabric of the State of New Jersey. On National Immigrant Day, we are proud to stand with our community and take space en la casa del pueblo (statehouse) urging legislators to address issues affecting immigrant children. In particular, we support the advancement of the Language Accessibility Bill ensuring equitable and inclusive access to state services for our immigrant children and their families. We all have a right to these services and no one should be discouraged to obtain services due to lack of language inclusion.” said Lady Jimenez Torres, Policy Director of New Jersey Consortium for Immigrant Justice

“Immigrants are an integral part of New Jersey’s social and economic fabric, and our state policies should reflect that reality,” said Nicole Rodriguez, President of New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP). “By making the state a fairer and more welcoming place for all residents, regardless of where they were born, we can honor the dignity of immigrants and the contributions they make every day to our local communities and economy. New Jersey’s future success depends on the future success of our immigrant communities — we’re all in this together.”

Throughout the day, NJAIJ members reminded legislators of the growing power of immigrants and their presence. Grassroots, advocacy, and organizing groups, included Unidad Latino en Accion, New Labor, Council for American Islamic Relations, New Jersey Consortium for Immigrant Children, American Friends Services Committee, Make the Road New Jersey, 32BJ SEIU, Wind of the Spirit, New Labor, ACLU of New Jersey, New Jersey Policy Perspective, and New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. NJAIJ members met with their representatives and key leadership figures to advocate for greater protections and opportunities for immigrants.

The Values Act was introduced in late winter of 2022. The bill has 8 Senate co-sponsors and 14 Assembly co-sponsors.  The Language Access Bill was introduced in spring 2022. The bill is authored by Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz and Sponsored by Assembly Member Jaffer in the Assembly. The Data Disaggregation bill, also introduced in spring 2022, has already passed the Assembly with a large bipartisan margin. It is sponsored by Senator Gopal in the Senate.


New Year, New Team, New Session | Same Fight for Justice

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January Newsletter

Archived 2017 picture of NJAIJ rally against the Muslim Ban.

Friends, I'm writing with a personal message this month.
January marks one year since I joined NJAIJ and one year since we grew our team to include our Movement Building Coordinator, a role that has transformed how we empower immigrant communities all across the New Jersey. In my twelve months in coalition with you, I feel both grateful and galvanized.
In that year, New Jersey also
became the first state on the East Coast to ban ICE detention agreements. We became the 15th state to enact a status-neutral drivers' license program, and fought for a first-of-its-kind direct cash benefit program, the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund, to provide relief for households excluded from federal stimulus. We made history together, and I'm humbled by and in awe of your fight.
It's January again and we are pleased to announce that we are growing our team again, too!
I am thrilled to be joined in this work by advocates who have an unwavering dedication to social, racial, and economic justice. Please join me in welcoming:

Michelle Ancil, she/her, Communications Coordinator. Laura Bustamante, she/her, Policy & Campaigns Manager. Aidee Pascual, she/her, Administrative Assistant. Kat Phan, she/her, 2022 Intern.

Click to read more about our team.

January is a time of renewal and reflection.
This month, we highlight Selaedin Maksut, Executive Director of the New Jersey chapter of Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ). CAIR-NJ is at the fore of the fight to designate January as Muslim Awareness and Appreciation month. Selaedin reminds us about the importance of reflecting on the legacies and movements that came before us and celebrating the richness of our diversity.

In Solidarity and Community,
Amy Torres


Member Spotlight

 It's a blessing to be a part of a social movement that stands on the frontlines. We proudly and humbly stand on the shoulders of those that came before us, and the legacies of those who did tenfold of what we are doing today. Championing these causes and being a voice for the voiceless is a huge honor and blessing," says Selaedin Maksut, Executive Director, CAIR-NJ

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The Values Act was re-introduced in the Assembly and Senate as A1986/S512. The Values Act would provide critical protections that allow New Jerseyans to seek support from state and local agencies without fear of deportation. Tell your legislator you expect to see their support!


NILC Features NJ's Anti-Detention Law

National Immigration Law Center

The incredible campaign behind the bill that banned new ICE detention agreements, renewals, and expansions was featured in the National Immigration Law Center's annual report on Winning in the States.

The report celebrates New Jersey's win by acknowledging the many fronts of the battle: "The anti-detention fight in New Jersey has been a decades-long movement...but with closure announcements and the ban on new and renewed contracts, New Jersey will not have any ICE detention centers after 2023."

Excluded NJ Fund Falls Short

In the midst of the news that major parts of the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund had been diverted and then quickly restored, New Jersey Policy Perspective released a report.

NJPP's analysis finds, "[e]ven if the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund were kept at its original funding level, it does not match the aid provided to others facing financial hardship due to COVID-19." The report goes on to say, "not only do payments...fall far short of the cost of living in New Jersey, but the size of the fund is also too small to reach all excluded workers."

Fair Legislative Districts

Legislative redistricting is still underway but time is running out! Your voice is needed to make sure maps are fair, racially just, and representative of your community. 

NJAIJ is a proud member of the Fair Districts coalition. 
Research shows that public testimony at redistricting hearings is effective when it offers specific instructions to mapmakers, focuses on small-scale changes (like keeping a neighborhood together), and effectively defines a community and its needs for representation. You are the expert on your community. Get involved!

Ready to act? Spread the word:

New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice

P.O. Box, 200492,  | Newark, New Jersey  07102| [email protected]

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