Immigrants’ Rights Advocates Applaud Hackensack Board of Education Passage of Fair and Welcoming School Policy

Hackensack Board of Education unanimously votes to limit cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement by adopting Fair and Welcoming school policy


In response to the Hackensack Board of Education’s unanimous vote in support of a district-wide policy protecting students and parents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Director of New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ) and Hackensack Board of Education member, Johanna Calle, issued the following statement:

"This is a great step forward for the Hackensack community and its students where almost 40 percent of the community members are immigrants. Hackensack Board of Education adopting this Fair and Welcoming school policy will help foster community trust between local residents and community leaders. Immigrant youth will feel comfortable knowing that the school administration, staff, and leadership are committed to enhancing their educational experience and are not wasting precious time and resources working with ICE. This is especially important because ICE has been disregarding honoring sensitive locations like schools. Just last month, the Second Reformed Church of Highland Park saw two parishioners detained by ICE as they dropped their kids off to school. Unfortunately, practices like this, and those that violate people's constitutional rights to privacy and due process, are becoming more common under the Trump administration.  

“Immigrants’ rights advocates across the state applaud Hackensack for adopting a Fair and Welcoming school policy and encourage other districts to do the same by protecting immigrant youth and their families in their schools.”


Immigrants’ Rights Advocates Call on New Jersey to Use Power of State to Protect Immigrant Communities from Deportation


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.


Statement on Hudson County Ending 287(g)


Immigrants’ Rights Advocates Respond to Hudson County Ending 287(g) Immigration and Nationality Act Agreement


Advocates applaud Hudson County terminating its 287(g) contract and call on state leadership to make statewide policy changes limiting involvement with ICE


HUDSON COUNTY-- Today, Director of Corrections of Hudson County jail, Ronald P. Edwards, announced Hudson County’s termination of its 287(g) Immigration and Nationality Act agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The 287(g) program deputizes local or county officers to do federal immigration enforcement using local resources to screen individuals based on immigration status as part of its deportation program. Three other counties in New Jersey including Monmouth, Salem, and Cape May county jails have 287(g) agreements. Too often ICE’s practices violate individual’s fourth amendment rights to due process and privacy. In response, immigrants’ rights advocates released the following statements:

"We are so excited to hear that Hudson County made such a rightful decision in terminating the 287(g) agreement. Local law enforcement should not in any way help carry out immigration enforcement. 287(g) has undermined the trust from the immigrant community and only negatively impact their citizen friends and families. We are seeing more family separations caused by immigration arrests, detention and deportation. Other countries that have similar agreement should terminate it now," said Chia-Chia Wang, Advocacy and Organizing Director of American Friends Service Committee.

“The 287(g) program has been referenced by the Trump administration as a key component of their deportation machine. Today, by ending participation in 287(g), Hudson County has made it clear that they will not support President Trump in his efforts to terrorize immigrants,” said Andrea Long, an organizer with Hudson for All and donor relations manager for the ACLU of New Jersey. “We applaud the freeholders for their role in bringing this contract to an end, and we thank them for supporting all of our neighbors.”

"It is an honor to have been a part of this effort and see the work of our colleagues produce major change for our communities. Counties across the state should follow Hudson County's lead and end their relationships with ICE immediately. These contracts undermine public safety, community trust, and put our localities at risk of legal liability,” said Johanna Calle, Director of New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice. “We will continue to fight to make sure the rest of the state becomes Fair and Welcoming and that our local resources are not used to separate families. We applaud Hudson county for this major step in putting their community over following ICE's unconstitutional practices.”

“I’ve always felt welcomed and safe especially for the past decade that I’ve lived in Hudson County. However, ever since the 2016 election, and with Hudson County having the 287(g) ICE agreement, for the first time, I started to feel unsafe. I’m grateful to County Executive, Tom DeGise and the Hudson County Freeholders for recognizing that this was hurting the entire County and all its residents, including citizens, and that justice should, can and must be prevailed. I feel safe again.” said Nadja K. Rutkowski, Organizer with Hudson for All.

“We commend Hudson County for moving to end the county’s 287(g) program, bringing us one step closer to creating safer spaces for immigrants. Today’s victory is thanks to the tireless organizing by advocates and allies, but our work is far from over, we will continue to fight to defeat policies statewide that terrorize our communities,” said Sally Pillay, Program Director of First Friends New Jersey and New York.

Collaborating with ICE decreases public safety, tears families apart, and creates liability for jurisdictions that participate in these agreements. The rest of the state now has an opportunity to follow Hudson’s lead. We look toward to state and local leadership to follow suit in terminating 287(g) contracts and making New Jersey a Fair and Welcoming state.


Statement on New Jersey Joining National Lawsuit Challenging Trump Decision to End DACA

Trenton, NJ -- The Murphy Administration and Attorney General Gubir S. Grewal announced today that they will be joining the 15 states and the District of Columbia in their lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s termination of the DACA program. The lawsuit was filed on September 6th, 2017 by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in the Eastern District of New York and was later joined by the attorneys general from Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

In response to today’s announcement, New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice Director, Johanna Calle, released the following statement:

“Today is a proud day for New Jersey, our Dreamers and their families as we applaud Governor Murphy and Attorney General Grewal for joining the fight against the Trump Administration’s ruthless and xenophobic attacks on our communities. We are honored to the join the diverse group of states across the nation as we stand in support of America’s 800,000 Dreamers, including 22,000 New Jerseyans who have benefited from the DACA program. These young immigrants call New Jersey their home and their lives have been thrown into chaos and uncertainty since the Trump Administration’s decision to terminate the program. We will stand tall with our immigrant youth and continue to hold our leaders accountable to our American values in resisting the Administration’s attacks and advocating for a path to citizenship for Dreamers and their families.”


New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice Responds to Government Shutdown

For Immediate Release

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

Newark, NJ-- In response to the government shutdown, Director of New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ), Johanna Calle, issued the following statement.

"New Jersey has the third largest immigrant population in the nation with over 17,000 DACA recipients who were brought to the U.S. without status as children. These DREAMers will lose their status if Congress does not pass a permanent solution. For months, the 800,000 DACA recipients across the nation have been anxiously awaiting a solution from Congress that has yet to come. A loss of status will mean an increased threat of deportation, separation from family, and leaving the only home they know.

DACA recipients are students and young professionals who support their mixed-status families. They are productive members of our country. We can no longer wait on more debate and back and forth from Congress as these young DREAMers’ and their families' lives hang in the balance. A clean DREAM act, which does not include funding for an unnecessary border wall or immigration enforcement, is the only acceptable solution to President Trump's termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

We call on Congress to act now to pass a clean DREAM Act. We also call on New Jersey’s congressional delegation to work with their colleagues to ensure it passes swiftly from both the Senate and House. Our communities have been living in fear for far too long. Congress must act now."


The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice Responds to End of TPS for Salvadorans

For Immediate Release

Monday, January 8th, 2018

Newark, NJ –  As of this morning, the Trump administration ended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for over 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants residing in the United States by the administration with expiration date of September 9th, 2019 to leave the country. This is following a November decision which ended TPS for over 60,000 Haitians, Nicaraguans and Sudanese nationals. Many of the Salvadorans are humanitarian migrants who have fled natural disasters and deteriorating conditions in El Salvador since 2001. This decision to end TPS for Salvadorans has again demonstrated the utmost disregard for human rights of migrants and their families as it will not only affect the TPS holders themselves but also their 190,000 U.S-born children who will be separated from their parents if no action is taken to stop this targeted xenophobic and detrimental policy decision. New Jersey is home to over 6,900 Salvadorans TPS holder and their 3,900 U.S born children. We will not stand by while our immigrant communities continue to be threatened and families are separated by deportation. We join our Haitian, Nicaraguan, Sudanese, and Salvadoran brothers and sisters to call on Congress to take immediate steps to protect immigrant communities and keep our families together before the September 9th extension date expires. Congress members must work across party lines to enact legislation which will create a pathway towards legal permanent residency for all TPS immigrants and other immigrants in the United States.



The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice Responds to End of TPS for Haitians

For Immediate Release

November 21, 2017

The administration has spent months threatening to end Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for our Haitian brothers and sisters while the community mobilized and pushed for legislation in support of extending this critical program. Yet again, the administration demonstrated their lack of respect for the human rights of our diverse communities or any regard to international humanitarian principles. What they have demonstrated is the ease with which they are able to break our communities and families apart with the stroke of a pen.  Ending TPS for our Haitian brothers and sisters signals DHS' refusal to acknowledge the environmental and infrastructural problems that continue to ail the island. It is also adds to the xenophobia and racism black immigrants face as they are more structurally targeted for detention and deportation. We will fight alongside them for dignity and respect. Congress must act immediately to ensure that families who have found refuge and stability in this country are not forced to go back to an island that is ill-suited for their return. The world is looking to the US to demonstrate what true leadership looks like. We can set an example for all or we can fail to uphold the standards we ask of others.


The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice Condemns New York City Attack

For Immediate Release

November 1, 2017

On behalf of our over 30 faith, labor, community and advocacy member organizations, the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice sends our thoughts and prayers to those impacted by the yesterday’s attack in New York City. We condemn attacks of terror of all kinds. We call for unity - now is the moment to stand together to support the victims and their families. We reject any attempts to use this horrible tragedy to advance an anti-immigrant agenda by vilifying innocent immigrant and Muslim community members. Any calls for “extreme vetting” as that proposed by President Trump are not only misguided but also obviously meant to stir up hate and discrimination rather than progress. It is in unity that we can find strength. It is through real community solidarity rather than grotesque generalizations that will further marginalize immigrants that we will truly heal.


NJAIJ Responds To Trump Administration's Decision To End DACA

For generations of immigrants, America has been a beacon of hope, a chance of a new, bright life, far from the poverty, famine, and war in their homelands. They built this country through their hard work and the belief that in this country they were valued, respected, and had a future. Our history is peppered with their stories and accomplishments. They are the ones who made this country great. President Trump and his administration seems to have forgotten that in their relentless campaign to deny today’s young immigrants the same opportunities that allowed our ancestors to prosper.

The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice vehemently opposes President Trump’s latest anti-immigration push to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a pivotal program that has helped thousands of immigrant youth. His decision to pass on the fate of young immigrants to congress is sad a day for our country and day that will always be remembered in history.  Now, nearly 800,000 young people will face six months of fear and agony with the possibility of deportation if DACA is terminated.   

It is now on to Congress to do what they have failed to do for over two decades, pass legislation that fixes the broken immigration system and addresses the needs of these young people and their families. Our community has been caught between political fights that have constantly failed to solve this problem. Today’s decision was another example of putting politics over the needs of our country. Congress must act immediately and it must act justly, not by deporting more of our families but by making sure the American Dream is truly attainable.

Trump’s short-sighted, narrow-minded immigration policies not only hurt immigrants, but all of us. Most of all, it contradicts the very principles that have established our country and made us that beacon of hope for the rest of the world. Despite this hateful rhetoric, our community is resilient and ready to protect our families from deportation. We will continue to fight for dignity and justice, and will make sure our legislators stand by the values of this great country.  


New Jersey Alliance For Immigrant Justice Responds To Trump Administration's Proposed Raise Act

The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice and our member organizations strongly oppose President Trump’s proposed Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act. This legislation is a discriminatory policy and an affront to our values as a country built by immigrants.

The RAISE Act would replace the current permanent employment-visa framework with a skills-based system that severely limits those who can immigrate legally to the United States. It is estimated that the bill would cut legal immigration by 50 percent, primarily by removing opportunities for family reunification, and create a biased point system based on stereotypes and anti-immigrant sentiment, rather than sound economic policy. 

President Trump could do far more to ensure fair wages for American workers by raising the minimum wage. To blame immigrants for the woes of the working-class is not only false, but irresponsible. Facts matter, and research shows that immigrants-- both documented and undocumented -- are an asset to the United States. While the president’s administration works to worsen the immigration policies, many experts predict that drastically curtailing immigration in this way would wreak havoc on our economy

Today’s immigrants seeking refuge here are no different than those of generations past. Most come here poor and looking to better themselves economically. What they bring with them is courage and the ability to work hard to succeed in their new home. Our history has been to support and welcome all immigrants, regardless of their education or skill level. President Trump, along with Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue, seem to have forgotten that. The legislation they proposed is based on prejudice rather than facts.

Read more