Promises piling up, patience wearing thin

Angry protesters gathered in Elizabeth outside the legislative offices of Senator Joe Cryan and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano to demand action on stalled legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license.

Protesters gather outside legislators’ district office in Elizabeth.

Twelve states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have laws in their books that allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license or some type of driving permit.

“For over 15 years, elected officials have promised that they would approve a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to have access to driver’s licenses,” said Alejandro Jaramillo, a leader of the protest effort, noting that Democrats have promised that New Jersey would join California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Vermont, and Washington but a bill that was introduced in previous sessions has been shelved.

In previous years, the “New Jersey Safe and Responsible Driver Act” would instruct the Motor Vehicles Commission chief administrator to issue a driver’s license to a person who satisfies the requirements for the issuance of a basic driver’s license but cannot provide proof of lawful presence in the United States.

That bill has languished without being re-introduced now that Democrats occupy the Governor’s Office and command majorities in both houses of the Legislature.

“Protesting political lip service! Stop making excuses and pass the driver license law,” said Lisa McCormick in a message posted on Twitter.

Jaramillo also encouraged voters to cast a protest vote against officials who are collaborating with Republican President Donald Trump’s draconian immigration policies in Essex County, where the federal government is paying to keep immigrants detained in the county jail.

“For all the people in Essex County on November 6th, we have to make a decision if we re-elect Joe Divincenzo who has a contract with ICE to jail innocent and honest in-migrants and break up families or elect Jay Arena who has been fighting for years for the protection of immigrant families, better jobs and wages for all, free health care, clean environment and free education for all among other things,” said Jaramillo. “We don’t need a county executive that is unapologetic for making money for the county jailing innocent undocumented immigrant families. We need some one like Jay Arena who will stand to ICE, Trump and other NJ politicians who cooperate with Trump . On November 6th, Vote with your conscious vote for Jay Arena.”

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