Special Section: Immigration

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Monmouth County Human Relations Commission (MCHRC)
holds meeting on immigration - Mon Mar 12th

The Monmouth County Human Relations Commission will hold a meeting on Monday, March 12, in Freehold, where immigration issues including driver's licenses and the county's close cooperation with the federal government by way of the Sheriff's Office 287(g) agreement will be discussed. 

Both are key issues that have been in the news lately. There is currently a bill in the NJ Assembly which supports granting licenses to undocumented immigrants and others who are unable to get a traditional license. Gov Phil Murphy recently supported this in his campaign; a dozen other states including the conservative Utah already grant driving privileges to all residents, including undocumented immigrants. In a time when arrests of undocumented immigrants have risen quite dramatically across the state and country - especially of non-criminal immigrants with long-standing ties to their communities - the licenses issue is more important than ever. Driving issues are one key way immigrants are funneled through to the criminal justice system and then caught up in the web of the federal immigration system. 

The county's 287(g) agreement with federal immigration authorities also facilitates this. After Hudson County recently ended its partnership,  (source) Monmouth County remains one of just three NJ counties to still have it in place. Before the current administration took over, only about 1% of counties nationally had such an agreement with the federal govt, and MC was one of them.

If you are interested in attending the meeting, please see the flyer HERE  for further details.


NJ Driver's Licenses for All - Join in this community-based campaign

The GRBWI immigration committee invites you to get involved in the campaign to pass legislation which would permit all eligible NJ residents access to obtaining a driver’s license.

NJ Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ) is a leader in this movement. Phil Murphy has stated his intent to pass this legislation within the first 100 days of his taking office, and we are supporting the effort to make sure this happens! Find details on the NJAIJ fact sheet HERE

The campaign involves sending letters to the governor and our legislators signed by local religious leaders, mayors, business owners and community leaders, law enforcement and organizations from towns throughout NJ*. We don’t write the letters. Volunteers like yourself, working individually or as part of a team, collect signatures for form letters NJAIJ has already created.  Law Enforcement  -  Organizations  -  Businesses  -  Clergy  -  Mayor

This will take just a small amount of time and effort, and if a few people from each town volunteer and divide up the work, we could easily accomplish a lot!

If you are interested in participating in this campaign, please email Ellen at ellielichtig@icloud.com.  

*We are covering Monmouth County, districts 11 and 13 and need volunteers to cover the towns listed below:

District 11: Allenhurst Asbury Park, Colts Neck, Deal, Eatontown, Freehold Borough, Freehold Township, Interlaken, Loch Arbour, Long Branch, Neptune, Neptune Township, Ocean Township (Monmouth), Red Bank, Shrewsbury Borough, Shrewsbury Township, Tinton Falls, West Long Branch

District 13: Aberdeen, Atlantic Highlands, Fair Haven, Hazlet, Highlands, Holmdel, Keansburg, Keyport, Little Silver, Marlboro, Middletown, Monmouth Beach, Oceanport, Rumson, Sea Bright, Union Beach


DACA - it's always something; but not the one thing

Deal or No Deal: What happens if Congress fails to make a deal on DACA by March 5th?
The likeliest outcome is a return to the status quo before 2012
             From The Economist 2/22/18  https://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21737287-likeliest-outcome-return-status-quo-2012-what-happens-if-congress

In September 2017 President Donald Trump announced he would phase out the DACA programme, claiming that Mr Obama had not possessed a mandate to implement it with no input from Congress. But Mr Trump did not end the policy outright. He gave DACA recipients whose status would expire before March 5th one month to renew it for another two years. Those whose protected status lapsed after that date would not enjoy the same privilege. When their status lapsed, they would be eligible for removal. Politicians took note. Congress would need to reach a legislative solution by March 5th or risk exposing Dreamers to deportation.

Or so they thought. In January a district-court judge in San Francisco ordered the Trump administration to continue renewing DACA applications while the underlying legality of ending the programme is worked out. To the surprise of many, instead of asking for a legal “stay” that would have reversed the injunction, the federal government complied. Yet the administration wanted to bypass the federal appeals court. It asked the Supreme Court to review the case directly instead of letting it wind its way through the court system first, as would normally be the case.  The Supreme Court declined. (see "Supreme Court Rejects Trump Request to Weigh inQquickly on Dreamers" - Politico )

In the meantime, even though March 5th is no longer a hard deadline, some in Congress are trying to find a legislative fix which would render the court case immaterial. Versions of bills shielding Dreamers from deportation have been introduced more than 20 times since 2001 when the first such proposal was floated, according to LawLogix, a legal software group. Despite enjoying support from Republicans, Democrats and the general public, the bills have floundered. If the court’s final ruling (now as much as a year or more away) is unfavourable to DACA and no legislative agreement is reached, the law will return to where it was before 2012, and people who arrived in America as minors will again be subject to deportation. 


Congress has failed on DACA. Here’s what must happen now.

February 19th "Washington Post Opinions" piece by Senator Jeff Flake

Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, is a member of the U.S. Senate.

Having spent the better part of two decades trying to tackle the challenges we face as a country, I sometimes feel a little defensive when I hear someone say Congress is incapable of solving big problems.

But that’s a hard point to argue after watching the Senate squander its best opportunity to pass legislation both to protect young immigrants affected by the uncertain future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and to strengthen security along the border.

Somehow, despite sweeping public support for both these items, we could not find a compromise that 60 senators could agree with. To say it was a disappointment would be an understatement.

I do appreciate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s attempt to facilitate an open debate to deliver an effective piece of bipartisan legislation. Senators on both sides of the aisle made a concerted effort to forge consensus. Unfortunately, the siren call of politics brought too many of us back into partisan trenches and blocked any hope of real results.

But there are teachers, students and members of the military who are DACA recipients. They are friends and colleagues who represent the very best of America — hard workers and productive members of their families and communities — and they do not have the luxury of accepting defeat and moving on to the next agenda item.

Likewise, those of us from border states know that law enforcement officers tasked with patrolling the border and protecting our neighborhoods cannot just give up and go home.

But if I’m being candid, after what we’ve experienced over these past weeks, I can’t see this Congress agreeing with this president on a package that includes a path to citizenship for DACA participants coupled with significant changes to our legal immigration structure. That comprehensive immigration reform has proved to be beyond our grasp.

That is why, when the Senate reconvenes next week, the first action I will take will be to introduce a bill extending DACA protections for three years and providing $7.6 billion to fully fund the first three years of the administration’s border-security proposal. I’ll be the first to admit this “three for three” approach is far from a perfect solution, but it would provide a temporary fix by beginning the process of improving border security and ensuring DACA recipients will not face potential deportation.

Congress has become entirely too comfortable ignoring problems when they seem too difficult to solve. This issue is not something we can ignore.

In the days following the introduction of this DACA extension, I’ll be on the floor to offer a unanimous-consent request for an up-or-down vote. I can’t promise that one of my colleagues won’t object — effectively blocking such a vote — but I promise that I’ll be back on the floor, again and again, motioning for a vote until the Senate passes a bill providing relief to those struggling.

We may not have been able to deliver a permanent solution to these problems, but we cannot abdicate the responsibility of Congress to solve them. There are too many people with too much at stake.