By Erin Delmore
A group of New Jersey immigrant workers and families are making their voices heard. Together with grassroots activist group Make the Road Action, they’re launching an eight-point plan called “New Jersey Fights Back” aimed at countering proposals from the Trump administration.
“We have seen the federal administration threaten our health care. We have seen a proposed budget that will gut critical services. Our Department of Housing and Urban Development wants to end subsidies to poor and working families. And immigration has ramped up enforcement and is attempting to deport and separate thousands of families here in New Jersey. The Trump administration is literally threatening our health, the roof over our heads and our very families,” said Nedia Morsy.
Members of the immigrant community in Elizabeth say they were shaken after federal authorities tried to detain a woman in February. Elizabeth resident Rosana Madeira told us unauthorized residents are in such a state of panic, they don’t want to report crimes or violations to the police out of fear of being detained.
Desiree Armas is a high school senior in a neighboring town.
“Those first few days after that whole incident happened, I was really scared because it seemed so surreal. After so many years of being here, you feel safe and then just suddenly it can all change,” Armas said.
Activists say the plan they unveiled today is a blueprint for how New Jersey state officials can support immigrants and the working class, including by increasing access to social services and affordable housing, fighting for an increased minimum wage and against wage theft and expanding access to health care, legal services and drivers’ licenses. The crowd tagged a cheer onto the end of the popular rally cry “Yes we can,” adding: “Why? Because we pay taxes.”
“By and large, most, if not all, of our members who are undocumented are paying taxes and they’re never seeing or reaping the benefits,” Morsy said.
Morsy told NJTV News the group is looking to have the ear of the next state administration and is working toward endorsing a candidate for governor. Gov. Chris Christie’s term is up in January.
“He’s actively worked with, for and in support of Trump. He hasn’t fought to defend us. And so we will fight for ourselves, for each other and for our future,” she said.
If you haven’t seen this eight-point plan yet and you live in northern New Jersey, you probably will. Make the Road Action New Jersey is going door to door handing out copies. They’re also running phone banks and hosting citizenship seminars in the coming months.