ELIZABETH—Hundreds of community leaders, people of faith and immigrant rights advocates from over 35 different organizations from across the state of New Jersey are expected to gather at St. Mary of the Assumption Church on Washington Street in Elizabeth at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday morning for a press conference and rally before marching to City Hall.
Organizers say the event is called “We are Brothers and Sisters” and is timed to be a part of a national day of action in solidarity with the people of Georgia. The state recently passed a law that makes it a felony to apply for a job using false documents and will eventually require businesses to check the immigration status of new employees in a federal database.
Organizers say that the Elizabeth rally is also intended to draw attention to local efforts to pass immigrant-friendly legislation and ordinances that will benefit the entire community and alleviate the suffering of immigrants in New Jersey while awaiting federal comprehensive immigration reform.
Explaining the role that local officials play, Kathy O’Leary, the coordinator for Pax Christi NJ and one of the event organizers, said, “We will no longer accept the line from municipal, county and state officials that immigration is a federal issue. They control the ID requirements which can effectively bar immigrants from accessing local services. They control whether or not public employees will be subject to the flawed E-Verify database. They control the conditions under which immigrants are detained in their county jails. Not least of all, they control the policies and practices of the local police, which make all the difference in whether or not crime victims feel safe enough to come forward.”
Carlos Rojas, a lead organizer for the NJ DREAM Act Coalition said, “The focus in the media has mainly been on local initiatives that punish immigrants. However, in-state and in-county tuition is a prime example of how local and state government can act in a way that is humane and benefits not just immigrants but the entire community, by making it easier for young people, regardless of immigration status, to educate themselves.”
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