Trump’s Actions Rouse Pro-Immigrant Groups in New Jersey

(Photo via Reporte Hispano)

Pro-immigrant groups and elected officials gathered in front of ICE offices in Newark to express their disagreement with the executive orders signed by President Donald Trump as soon as the reach of the documents was divulged.

Organizers reported the attendance of no less than 100 people, who counted on the public commitment made by mayors Ras Baraka of Newark, Lester E. Taylor of East Orange and Victor DeLuca of Maplewood. The leaders promised to defend their cities’ sanctuary status.

Activist and Make the Road New Jersey director Sara Cullinane used strong words to comment on the first immigration policies put forward by the Trump administration.

“This is a threat and a call to wage war against the immigrant community,” said Cullinane. “The steps Trump has taken are inhumane and go against everything we have been fighting for in recent years on behalf of our immigrants. Make the Road New Jersey will continue working to get more cities and counties to become sanctuaries.”

In a statement, the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ) said that the close collaboration between local law enforcement and federal agencies proposed by the president will further erode the trust of more than 400,000 undocumented immigrants throughout the state and lead more people to live in the shadows.

“This new initiative will sow fear and paranoia within our communities, pinning neighbors against neighbors and causing unnecessary issues for our local governments. Any threats of financial punishment are only meant to strong-arm cities into engaging in practices that they know will damage their communities. We will not stand by as many of us are criminalized for non-violent offenses and demonized in the eyes of the public. Throwing people in jail and aggressively pursuing deportation, which divides children from parents and deprives families and businesses of income, are not the way to keep our communities safe,” said the organization in its online statement.

Vera Parra, from the NJ Cosecha movement, spoke via telephone with Reporte Hispano and called the signing of the executive order entitled “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” a “tremendous shock,” adding that further similar measures are expected.

The organization’s representative said that they will work in the near future to change the opinion of the U.S. public and some Latino permanent residents and U.S. citizens to show them that, at the end of the day, they too depend on immigrants.

“If we do this and people decide to cooperate in massive numbers, nothing can stop us,” said Parra. “For the moment, the important thing is to be united and prevent this from happening, and from happening behind closed doors. It is vital to let people see and feel the effect that Trump’s policies will have for the immigrant community between the borders and also [the effect] of the deportations.”

Parra also considers that the statement made by Trump’s Hispanic spokeswoman, Helen Aguirre, of Nicaraguan descent – who said that only immigrants who have committed serious crimes will be deported – must be taken with a grain of salt.

“I think that we have to be very careful. They talk about deporting people [who have committed] serious crimes, but they are generally the ones who decide who is considered a criminal. It could be someone who has used a fake social security number [or] someone who was deported and came back in,” she said.

For her part, Diana Mejía, from the organization Wind of the Spirit, said that communities will continue fighting to live in peace and with dignity. “We will not cower: We will organize, and we will be ready to protect our families and our loved ones. No human being is illegal. We will not allow our communities to be criminalized,” she said.

Lastly, ACLU-NJ Public Policy Director Ari Rosmarin stated that “we promise to do everything in our power to prevent this administration from harming New Jersey’s families, communities, and economy. Rounding up immigrants and throwing them in jail rather than observing the rule of law will not stand. The human wall that we’ll form to protect our communities will be far more powerful than one made of just concrete.”

Newark and Paterson mayors come out against Trump actions

(Photo via Reporte Hispano)

[Below are excerpts from another story by Reporte Hispano’s Gery Vereau]

The mayors of Paterson and Newark were the first to react to the signing of President Donald Trump’s executive order issuing financial penalties through federal funding cuts for sanctuary cities refusing to collaborate with immigration authorities.

Newark, considered a sanctuary city, responded immediately, with Mayor Ras Baraka stating that President Donald Trump’s executive order will not affect its relationship with immigrants.

In a public statement, Baraka announced that his administration “will continue to protect undocumented immigrants despite whatever order is issued” by President Donald Trump.

He noted that, like other sanctuary cities with a strong immigrant presence such as New York and Los Angeles, “we do not hold undocumented inmates in jail at the request of the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unless the detainer request is accompanied by a judge’s order.”

The mayor clarified that his city complies with federal immigration authorities “but [we] insist that detainer requests be handled constitutionally. I hope that no president would violate those principles, the very foundation of our nation, by taking punitive action against cities that are simply protecting the well-being of residents.”

Regarding the construction the wall, Baraka said: “…The billions spent on building and maintaining the wall could better be spent on educating American children, retraining displaced and unemployed American workers, and rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.”

Paterson Mayor José “Joey” Torres, of Puerto Rican descent, stated that, even though his city is not officially a sanctuary, it would always open its doors to immigrants.

“The city of Paterson was founded by an immigrant, Alexander Hamilton, so its roots and history are linked to immigration,” said Torres. “We are a city with a philosophy of open doors for all. The greatness of Paterson, as the first industrial city in the United States, has those origins, and we honor those origins. Even though we are not a sanctuary city, we are a city that welcomes immigrants with open arms.”

Regarding the wall – or the progress of the wall being built on the border with Mexico – the mayor described it as rather naive, as statistics show that Mexican immigration has declined rather than increased.

As of Wednesday, Jan. 25, neither the mayor of Passaic – a sanctuary city – nor his spokesperson had replied to a request for comments on the aforementioned executive orders.

For his part, César Aguirre, Passaic’s deputy mayor, said that he expected to meet in the following few hours with Mayor [Hector] Lora to find out if the city will indeed suffer federal cuts, and make a public statement.

Félix Roque, mayor of West New York, was not available to comment.


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