Murphy’s Victory Lifts Hopes of NJ Hispanic Community

Governor-elect Phil Murphy with members of Make the Road New Jersey during his campaign. (Photo via Facebook)

Democratic candidate Phil Murphy obtained a comfortable win in the run for New Jersey’s gubernatorial seat.

The governor-elect won with 55.6 percent of the votes. Republican candidate Kim Guadagno took 42.3 percent.

Democrats also maintained the majority in the state senate and the general assembly.

Thus, beginning in January, when Murphy takes office, Democrats will have total control of the state government. This will allow Murphy to approve the laws needed to fulfill his campaign promises.

Murphy and the rest of the Democrats will have to show through actions that they really support the state’s immigrant community and that they were not just using political rhetoric to get votes.

The first measure the community is eager to see become a reality is the approval of driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants (…), a fight that a number of pro-immigrant organizations have waged for over 10 years.

Despite the fact that multiple bills have been introduced in the state legislature for this purpose, the law has not been approved by any of the chambers.

Democrats, who also controlled the legislature during Chris Christie’s tenure, argue that they have refrained from approving it because Christie said he would veto the law.

Murphy promised during his campaign that he would approve the licenses. Now, Democrats will have no valid excuse to fail to approve the measure, so necessary to ensure progress for the immigrant community.

Another promise the Hispanic community is hoping Murphy will keep during his first year in office is a minimum wage increase to $15 per hour.

A large percentage of Hispanic immigrants in the state earn hourly salaries of less than $15 and have trouble covering basic expenses for their families. A wage increase will undoubtedly improve living conditions, not just for immigrants but for the general population.

Unquestionably, providing state-funded financial aid for college regardless of legal status will boost the progress of immigrant families and strengthen the local economy as larger numbers of employed, tax-paying professionals contribute additional revenue.

Murphy also promised to oppose the repressive immigration policies of Donald Trump’s administration. To that end, he said that he will declare New Jersey a sanctuary state in which the local and state police departments will not act as immigration agents.

Declaring the state a sanctuary will offer some relief to the immigrant community, which has lived in anguish since President Donald Trump won the election – and began implementing his anti-immigrant policies – in fear of having their families separated by immigration agents.

“Murphy has said that he supports driver’s licenses for immigrants and to make this a fair and friendly state for immigrants. We are ready to make sure that his campaign promises become a reality,” said Johanna Calle, coordinator for the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, formed by Hispanic and pro-immigrant organizations from across the state.

For her part, Olga Armas, from Make the Road New Jersey, said that “we expect to collaborate with Murphy’s administration to make New Jersey a state where immigrants are welcome by granting driver’s licenses to undocumented people, ensuring that state and local police will not assist in Trump’s massive deportation campaign, and by expanding access to education and legal guidance for immigrants.”

Latino heads transition committee

[Below are excerpts from another Reporte Hispano story.]

The governor-elect announced the appointment of José Lozano as executive director of his gubernatorial transition committee. Lozano will be the first Latino ever to direct the transition process for the gubernatorial position in New Jersey.

Lozano, a leader in the health care industry, has vast experience in state- and federal-level transitions and private sector mergers.

“New Jersey has spoken loud and clear: They want the next governor focused on creating a stronger, fairer economy for all families,” stressed Murphy. “José Lozano has the leadership and experience to run the kind of transition we’ll need to be able to hit the ground running in January.”

(…)

Murphy will be sworn in as governor – and Sheila Oliver as lieutenant governor – on Jan. 16, 2018.

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