Latest News

Advocates Applaud Introduction of Language Access Bill S2459

For Immediate Release

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

Immigrant, Civil Rights, and Family Advocates Applaud Introduction of Language Access Bill

Senator Ruiz’s bill S2459 would position New Jersey with the nation's most inclusive language access plan.  

Newark, NJ -- [March 28, 2022] -- Last week, Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz introduced #S2459, a bill that would require state government entities to provide translation services in the top 15 most spoken languages by Limited English Proficient New Jerseyans. If passed, the legislation would increase access to state services for New Jersey's increasingly diverse population. 

 "New Jersey is a leader in the diversity and size of our immigrant communities, so it is fitting that we are now leading with the country’s most expansive language access plan. Personally, I remember translating school or utility notices for my mom, but that often meant missing some of my soccer games or less time for homework because I needed to help translate for my parents,” said Laura Bustamante with New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice. “If passed, this Language Access Plan would allow families like mine to access timely, accurate information and pursue the opportunities offered in our state. Senator Ruiz’s bill sends a clear message: that the beauty and diversity of our communities and identities is something to affirm and celebrate.”

The bill will require state government entities to provide written translation in the top 15 spoken languages by Limited English Proficiency, as well as oral interpretation for languages not covered from that list. The bill also requires state government entities to name a Language Access Coordinator who will design and implement plans at each agency and report on usage and requests to ensure successful, quality translation and interpretation is provided. The bill also includes provisions for highly visible informational posters so New Jerseyans can understand the services available to them as well as downloadable “I Speak” cards that can indicate the type of language service requested.

New Jersey is second only to California in its immigrant share of the total state proportion. That state passed its initial language access plan, the “Bi-Lingual Services Act” back in 1973. As introduced, S2459 is the nation’s most comprehensive plan, both in languages included and public entities covered. Census data shows New Jersey’s current foreign-born population to be over 2 million residents, nearly one of every four residents. Over 155 languages have been identified by the Census Bureau as being spoken in New Jersey. New Jersey is rich in language diversity, but also sees staggering gaps in Limited English Proficiency. Of foreign born New Jerseyans over 5 years old, 42.5% speak English less than “very well.” The numbers also increase depending on immigration status -- it becomes 34% for naturalized citizens and 54.5% for noncitizens.

“When New Jerseyans cannot communicate fully and accurately with state agencies, they are denied fair and equal access to resources, information, and services. As one of the most diverse states in the country, building systems-wide language access and requiring cultural competency and anti-bias training will improve the lives of millions, particularly immigrants and communities of color already facing the brunt of systemic inequities. We applaud Senator Teresa Ruiz for her leadership in introducing S2459 and look forward to working with our lawmakers to build a more equitable and welcoming New Jersey for all,” said Alejandra Sorto, Campaign Strategist at the ACLU of New Jersey.

Community leaders representing New Jersey’s diverse immigrant population, including Asian, Muslim, and Arab communities, emphasized the need to improve language access across the state, in order to close the wide racial disparities in representation and accessing public services. 

“Immigrant communities are rich and growing in diversity. Asian American and Pacific Islanders are one of the fastest-growing groups in the state, yet these communities are rendered invisible in conversations about immigrant issues because a lack of language access prevents us from sitting at the table. We can end these disparities — this Language Access bill is a first and important step,” said S. Nadia Hussain, Co-Founder, Bangladeshi American Women's Development Initiative (BAWDI).

“Racial disparities during the COVID-19 pandemic were particularly acute for immigrants and communities of Color. Having a government that communicates with people immediately and in their own language not only empowers non-native English speakers, it makes all of our communities stronger together,” said Selaedin Maksut, Executive Director of CAIR-NJ.

“New Jersey has made significant strides in language access already, but accountability is key to ensure services are delivered equally and respectfully. The bill introduced today builds on the best practices we already have and strengthens them so that no one is treated differently simply because of the language they speak,” said Abire Sabbagh, Community Outreach and Palestine Education Director, Palestinian American Community Center 

Education and family advocates spoke to the need for language inclusion and the lasting impacts on students and families when school systems and other public entities fail to provide information in the primary spoken language.  

“New Jersey is a multilingual community with immigrants hailing from all over the globe. Immigrants are an essential part of New Jersey, contributing to the State's success. However, right now, we are not meeting the basic needs of millions of residents in either our healthcare or education systems, leaving families without the information they need to make good decisions about their children and families, with sometimes devastating consequences,” said Diana Autin, Executive Director, SPAN Parent Advocacy Network.

“Ensuring people access information in their best language is critical for an inclusive and equitable New Jersey - whether we are talking about students in school or communities accessing essential services. As immigrant families cope with the devastating long-term impact of the pandemic, language inclusion is, and will continue to be, necessary to help them recover and ultimately thrive,” said Priscilla Monico Marin, Executive Director, New Jersey Consortium for Immigrant Children.

“We learned from the pandemic that information is best received when it is in one’s own language and delivered in a culturally competent, trusted environment. Being able to access services and programs in one’s own language means that all families will have access to support and have confidence in the state offices that deliver it,” said Kathleen Fernandez Executive Director of NJTESOL/NJBE.

The top 15 languages in New Jersey when sorted by number of limited English proficient speakers is: Spanish, Chinese (combined Mandarin & Cantonese), Korean, Portuguese, Gujarati, Arabic, Polish, Haitian, Russian, Hindi, Tagalog, Italian, Vietnamese, Urdu, and French (including Cajun).

###

Read more
Share

Press Release: Immigrants Rights and Advocacy Organizations Slam Decision to Raid Excluded New Jerseyans Fund

IMMIGRANTS RIGHTS AND ADVOCACY ORGANIZATIONS SLAM DECISION TO RAID EXCLUDED NEW JERSEYANS FUND
Community leaders, organizations, and advocates react to the inauguration day news that $34 million would be taken from the already-underfunded program that was meant for New Jerseyans excluded from federal pandemic relief


When: Wednesday, January 19th, 2022 12:00 PM

What: Today, 15 speakers from a broad-based coalition of community leaders, organizations, and advocates convened a virtual press conference condemning the news that $34 million of relief funds promised to New Jerseyans excluded from federal relief would be reappropriated for other agency expenses at the New Jersey Department of Human Services.

The news was first reported by Karen Yi for Gothamist, the evening of Governor Murphy’s inauguration.

 

Read more
Share

NJAJ Launches "Resource Hub"

New Jersey Alliance For Immigrant Justice Launches New Digital “Resource Hub” 

NJAIJ Resource Hub will serve as a digital toolbox for activists, organizers, advocates, and community leaders building community power across the state.

Newark, NJ --  The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice is excited to launch the NJAIJ Resource Hub, a new digital home for community members, advocates, activists, and organizations working towards a New Jersey for all. 

As communities all across New Jersey prepare to head to the polls in November, the NJAIJ Resource Hub serves not only as a civic engagement platform, but a home for sharing information, knowledge, and building community power for immigrants and communities of color. Resources include directories, guides, toolkits, and reports -- all sourced from NJAIJ, our members, and partners.

Read more
Share

S3361/A5207 Becomes Law!

 

Immigrants, Advocates, Attorneys Celebrate Law Banning New ICE Detention Contracts 

New Jersey becomes 4th state to limit or ban ICE detention contracts after Governor Murphy signed S3361/A5207 that would ban new, renewal, and extensions of ICE detention contracts 

Newark, NJ -- Monday, August 23rd, 2021 -- On Friday, New Jersey became the fourth state to limit or ban Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention contracts joining California, Illinois, and Washington State after Governor Murphy signed S3361/A5207. Under the new ban, which took place immediately upon signature, public or private entities are prohibited from entering into new ICE detention contracts and prohibited from renewing and extending current ICE detention contracts in New Jersey. 

Immigrant community members noted the importance of the new law in upholding New Jersey’s values as a fair and welcoming state. 

Read more
Share

Immigrants, Advocates Condemn Delay on Banning New ICE Detention -- ICE Extends its Contract

Immigrants, Advocates Condemn Governor Murphy’s Delay on Banning New ICE Detention -- ICE Extends its Contract With Private Jailer in Elizabeth

In a shareholder meeting, private prison corporation CoreCivic announced an extension of their ICE detention contract currently located at Elizabeth Detention Center. The deal was struck after the end of the second quarter, just days following S3361/A5207’s passage in the legislature.  

Newark, NJ -- Tuesday, August 17, 2021 --  In response to a CoreCivic earning’s call last week, in which the extension of the private Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention agreement in Elizabeth was announced, immigrant justice community members, and advocates condemned the Murphy administration’s delay in signing S3361/A5207 into law, which would ban such renewals, extensions, or other new ICE agreements. Impacted residents and immigrants’ rights advocates expressed their outrage and called on the administration to prioritize signing the bill immediately. 

Read more
Share

Immigrant Community Town Hall Urging Governor Murphy to Make Anti-Detention Bill Law Immediately

The link to live stream is here

 

Immigrant Community Members Urge Governor Murphy to Make Anti-Detention Bill Law Immediately

Immigrant Community Members, Advocates Urged Governor Murphy To Immediately Sign Bill Into Law During Immigrant Heritage Month 

 

NEWARK, NJ -- Monday, June 28th, 2021 — Immigrant community members and immigrants’ rights advocates called on Governor Murphy to sign bill S3361/A5207 to prohibit new, renewal and expansion of ICE detention contracts statewide. Last week, both houses of the NJ legislature passed the legislation sending it to Governor Murphy’s desk for his signature to become law. If signed, New Jersey would lead the East Coast as the first state prohibiting new, renewed or expanded ICE detention contracts, joining California, Illinois, and Washington whose states also limit or ban ICE detention agreements.

 

Read more
Share

Legislature Votes YES to BAN ICE From New Jersey's Future

NJ Immigrant Families, Advocates Celebrate A5207/S3361 Passage in Senate, Call for Anti-Detention Bill to Become Law During Immigrant Heritage Month

Following A5207’s passage in the Assembly on Monday, S3361 passed the full Senate Thursday afternoon. Families and advocates urge GovernorMurphy to meet the Legislature’s pace and sign the bill this month.

 
Newark, NJ --Thursday, June 24th, 2021--The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ) and member organizations celebrate the historic passage of S3361/A5207 which bans future, renewed, and expanded ICE detention agreements in New Jersey. If signed into law, New Jersey would lead the East Coast as the first state prohibiting new, renewal or expansion of ICE detention contracts, joining California, Illinois, and Washington state who also limit or ban ICE detention agreements.

Read more
Share

Call for Full Senate Floor Vote on S3361

NJ Immigrants’ Rights Advocates Call for Full Senate Floor Vote on S3361 to Prohibit New, Renewal, Expansion of ICE Detention Contracts Before Legislature Takes Summer Recess

 

S3361 passed the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. Advocates call for a full Senate Floor vote with less than 10 days left before Summer Recess.

 

Read more
Share

Assembly Passes A5207 Bill to Ban New ICE Contracts


NJ Immigrants’ Rights Advocates Applaud Swift Passage of A5207 on Assembly Floor with 46-24 Vote, Call for Senate Bill S3361 to Pass Immediately

 

S3361 stalls in Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee with less than 10 days left before legislature goes on Summer recess


Newark, NJ --The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ) and member organizations applaud the passage of A5207 in the Assembly on Monday, June 21st. NJAIJ, a state-wide coalition of 44 faith, labor, policy, community-based, and grassroots organizations, has fought for A5207 as part of their “Fair & Welcoming Platform” to ban new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention contracts, including renewals or expansions.

The coalition’s celebration of the Assembly’s momentum is met with caution as the Senate’s companion bill S3361, which was assigned to the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee, has yet to be scheduled for a vote. Over 40 leading immigrants rights and justice organizations sent an endorsement letter to State leadership on Friday urging swift passage. Yet as the Senate bill stalls and the summer recess nears, advocates and families fear that New Jersey will be open to new business with ICE, even as multiple local and county contractors have indicated a willingness to close or wind down existing agreements. 

“Despite leading the nation in our diversity and percentage of people with immigrant heritage, New Jersey is alarmingly slow to put an end to ICE collaboration. Without this legislation becoming law, a new ICE agreement can crop up at any time. No resident should fear for their safety because local contractors take dirty money from ICE. State leadership must take their cue from the sea of change at the local level and pass S3361/A5207 immediately,” said Amy Torres, Executive Director of the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice.

Read more
Share

Movement on S3361 in Senate Law & Public Safety Committee

Immigrants’ Rights Advocates Applaud Senate Law & Public Safety Committee Passage Of S3361, Call On Continued Momentum before Summer Recess

Advocates call on Assembly to follow suit on bill to ban future ICE detention contracts in New Jersey with full floor votes in the legislature before July

 

NEW JERSEY - Thursday, May 20, 2021 --  The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ) applauds the movement on bill S3361 after it moved out of the Senate Law and Public Safety committee today. In response, impacted immigrant New Jerseyans and advocates commended the bill’s advancement and urged the Assembly to schedule A5207 for a vote in the Assembly Law & Public Safety Committee on June 2nd. Further, the coalition calls for a floor vote in both houses prior to the legislature’s summer recess in July.

Read more
Share

NJAIJ Calls On State Leadership To “Meet the Historic Momentum” On Immigration Detention

For Reporters: Please refer to NJAIJ's Fair and Welcoming -New Jersey for All Platform educational press brief linked here. The brief answers questions regarding A5207/S3361 and the "Values Act. Send your questions to Hera Mir at NJAIJ.  

Newark - Wednesday, May 5th, 2021 -- The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ) calls on State leadership and legislators to act on A5207/S3361, legislation that would ban new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contracts or renewals and extensions of existing contracts. 

Despite community calls to the Assembly Law & Public Safety Committee who met this morning, A5207 was not included on the agenda. Collectively, this committee’s members represent nearly half a million immigrant New Jerseyans. The call to action follows a whirlwind week as New Jersey made national headlines over local contractors signaling an end, or depopulation, to their ICE detention agreements. 


A5207/S3361 was originally introduced by Senator Weinberg and Assembly Member Johnson in December 2020, following a fierce political debate over local ICE contracts -- Hudson County had just renewed its ICE detention agreement for the maximum period of time allowed by law and both Hudson and Bergen County’s facilities faced a series of hunger strikes in protest over treatment and conditions. The bill has languished for four months, especially following a Senate committee hearing in March when it was suddenly pulled from a vote. NJAIJ now calls on State leadership to meet the political moment again by passing A5207/S3361 to ensure that new ICE detention agreements do not happen in the wake of recent news. 

After years of local grassroots mobilizations and organizing against local ICE detention contracts, New Jersey gained historic ground on ending the immoral practice of profiting from immigrant detention. All three New Jersey Counties with ICE contracts signaled their willingness to end or allow their ICE detention contracts to expire, or to refuse new transfers. Additionally, Core Civic, the private corporation running the ICE detention facility in Elizabeth, faces a new lawsuit from its landlord seeking to exit the lease due to the disregard to public health within the facility. 

The multi-year fight against ICE contracts had centered on inhumane conditions, treatment, and abuse suffered by people detained by ICE and the lack of transparency and accountability within facilities. Following the news about local agreements last week, many advocates were alarmed that contractors justified their decisions as fiscal ones: Essex heralded a new deal to incarcerate people from Union County, Hudson indicated a willingness to pursue an agreement with Mercer County, and Bergen signaled openness to working with the US Marshal’s Office. 

The New Jersey State Legislature is missing a moral calling -- where local politicians face scrutiny over deals that further entangle their county budget’s with carceral deals, State leaders have an opportunity to enforce a high moral standard by prohibiting ICE from ever returning to New Jersey, regardless of how profitable future deals may become. This ban would bring New Jersey one step closer to truly becoming a fair and welcoming state. 

Further,  New Jersey faces a unique political moment. Immigrants and New Americans are one of the fastest-growing constituencies in the State and among citizens, a quarter-million New Jerseyans live with an undocumented household member. Immigrant justice is quickly becoming a “kitchen table” political issue for the state. As lawmakers prepare for upcoming primary elections, the passage of the bill would recognize the growing political power of immigrant New Jerseyans.

NJAIJ calls on State leadership to act now to immediately legislate the ban on new and renewal of ICE detention contracts and create trust in access and opportunity with immigrant communities and encourages the public to make their voices heard. 

"We are discouraged by the lack of motivation at NJ state legislature to discuss an important bill (A5207/S3361) that would greatly curb immigration detention in New Jersey. NJ has made millions of dollars from immigration detention that led to human misery and broken families. After a horrifying year for immigrant detainees, we finally see a glimpse of hope to end detention and change narratives and put human lives before dollars.  NJ state legislators need to join this wave of change, support immigrant family unification and vote to pass A5207/S3361,” said Chia-Chia Wang, Organizing and Advocacy Director, American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program.

“While we welcome the end to the Essex County ICE contract, we call upon the Essex County Commissioners to leverage their power and resources to ensure that ICE detainees are released to continue their legal cases from home. We are dismayed by the announcement that in order to fill budget gaps Essex County will accept loved ones incarcerated in Union County as though we should applaud the trading of one population for another. This demonstrates a continued willingness to see primarily Black and brown souls as mere dollars and is immoral. We must divest from incarceration and invest in restorative justice practices that honor the dignity of everyone. This is why, in order to make a New Jersey that stands on the pillar of morality, we call on you to pass A5207/S3361,” said Charlene Walker, Executive Director of Faith in New Jersey.

"The inability to muster the political will to pass A5207/S3361, despite the groundswell of movement on the local level, is a stain on our state. The notion that immigrant justice issues are divisive is either a willfully false hysteria, or an indicator that lawmakers are woefully out of touch with their constituencies and communities just weeks before primaries. There's no excuse not to act now and permanently free our state from ICE's grip,” said Amy Torres, Executive Director of New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice. 

“From Union to Mercer to Hudson to Gloucester to Passaic, we hear all of this consolidation of County jails and youth facilities. What a celebration... However, humans are again on an auction block for the highest bidder,“ said Cuqui Rivera, Chair of the Criminal Justice Reform Committee of the Latino Action Network. “Just this week, we learned that Union county celebrates a savings of $103 million for the county from its jail closing, another $24 million from closing its juvenile facility. 

“After all of the protests and outcry from advocates about ICE contracts go unheard, power structures see the light of ‘money’. Who benefits from this revenue? How much of this ‘money’, if any, will go into addressing the conditions of these facilities and the resources for released prisoners who have served their time, these "human beings" "these people. Without A5207/S3361 becoming law, local leaders will always prioritize money over morals,” Rivera said. 

“Casa Freehold stands strongly with partners around New Jersey and beyond against detention of all immigrants. We have a long history of protesting the existence of detention centers and the horrible conditions inside them. During COVID-19 conditions have greatly worsened with too many ill and dying.  With broad support around New Jersey for ending ICE detention contracts, our legislators do not serve their constituents by holding up the path of humane progress. Now is the moment to vote on A5207! Law and Public Safety Committee: We demand this be put on the agenda,” said Rita Dentino, Executive Director of Casa Freehold.

"As longtime opponents of the ICE detention system, we welcome the Essex County decision to end their ICE contract and hope to see others in New Jersey make the same decision. Ending such contracts eliminates the perverse financial incentives to separate families and leave children without a parent. We support further legislative action to prevent the use of local resources for federal immigration enforcement, a practice which unfairly targets working people, especially from Black and Brown communities. Now, it is even more critical to pass A5207/S3361 to prevent ICE from initiating new contracts with other jails or private prison operators to detain immigrants,” said Ellen Whitt, Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War. 

"Unitarian Universalist FaithAction New Jersey strongly urges passage of legislation that would reduce the detention of undocumented persons in our state. As people of faith who recognize the inherent worth and dignity of every person, we must stand against the incarceration of people not because of any criminal action but merely because of their status as immigrants. Hundreds of migrants should be released from harsh jail conditions and reunited with their families and loved ones while their legal case is resolved,” said Ted Fetter, Chair of the Immigration Justice Task Force of Unitarian Universalist FaithAction New Jersey.


"It is shameful that these two bills (A5207/S3361) have not been placed on the Law and Public Safety Committee agenda. They are critical for the wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of immigrant families and for all New Jersey communities. None of the immigrants who are in detention would be in jail if they were U.S. citizens. There is strong grassroots community support for ending ICE contracts in New Jersey. The contracts exist solely because of the money being made off them. Similarly, there is no justification for the obscene profiteering off the video calls that connect people in jail with their families. It will be inexcusable if these bills are not brought to the floor of the Assembly and Senate and passed promptly. It will be even more outrageous if this delay leaves the door open for new contracts or renewals,” said Jon Moscow, Co-Chair Northern New Jersey Sanctuary Coalition.

NJAIJ is a statewide coalition of 43 member organizations, representing 150,000 people, that creates and achieves policies that support New Jersey's immigrants. We uphold the human, civil, and labor rights of all immigrants, whether documented or seeking status, and prioritize keeping families together.


www.njimmigrantjustice.org | 570 Broad Street Newark, NJ 07102 | [email protected]


###
Share

Fair and Welcoming Platform Educational Press Brief

NJAIJ is a statewide coalition of 43 member organizations, representing 150,000 people, that creates and achieves policies that support New Jersey's immigrants. We uphold the human, civil, and labor rights of all immigrants, whether documented or seeking status, and prioritize keeping families together.

The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ) launched the Fair and Welcoming - New Jersey for All - Platform in March 2021.(1) The platform aims to achieve a “New Jersey for all” by creating statewide policies that allow immigrants to feel safe in their communities, and allow individuals and families to feel confident and secure when accessing critical State and local public services. 

The Fair & Welcoming Platform will achieve these goals by... 

Read more
Share