The New Jersey Assembly today passed two bills containing resolutions opposing President Donald Trump’s positions on immigration — one bill calling for the protection of “dreamers” and the other bill opposing Trump’s immigration ban.
The Assembly voted 44-11-7 to pass legislation sponsored by Assemblyman John Wisniewski and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano opposing any attempt by the Trump administration to target undocumented students who have come to the United States as children. Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, a policy implemented under President Barack Obama’s administration, the federal government agreed to defer the deportation of undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children and allowed these students to qualify for employment authorization.
“Many of these students who live in New Jersey applied for the DACA program so that they could work and be able to afford the pursuit of a college education,” said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). “These students know only America as their home and are hard-working employees who contribute to the economy and to the rich diversity of our schools. Rescinding DACA would expose these students to the threat of immediate deportation and deprive the state of their many contributions. That’s immoral and un-American, and we must make clear that we oppose any effort by President Trump to punish these young men and women.”
Wisniewski said young men and women who followed the proper course of action so that they could pursue their higher education should not be punished.
“These students have spent their formative years in the United States, pay taxes and contribute to our economy as hard-working employees, and add rich diversity to our schools through class participation and campus programs,” he said. “They deserve protection, and today we have made our voices clear – President Trump’s discriminatory policies will not be tolerated.”
“New Jersey has long been a welcoming home for immigrants from around the world and appreciates the valuable contributions immigrants make to our state and our nation,” said Quijano (D-Union). “New Jersey’s immigrant population includes undocumented immigrants who have come to the United States in pursuit of the American dream and to build a better life for themselves and their families. Many of these families include children who were brought to New Jersey at a very young age and were raised and educated in the state, but now they face the threat of deportation under President Trump. That’s wrong.”
The other bill condemns Trump’s actions targeting immigrants and urges the New Jersey attorney general to join others in opposing Trump’s immigration ban. The assembly voted 45-17-3 Wednesday to approve the bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vincent Prieto, Shavonda Sumter, Gary Schaer, Elizabeth Muoio and Reed Gusciora.
The resolution approved by the Assembly in the bill condemns the executive order signed by President Trump suspending immigration for 90 days from seven Muslim-majority countries, suspending all refugee admissions into the United States for 120 days and indefinitely barring all Syrian refugees from entering the United States. It also condemns the firing of the acting attorney general for refusing to enforce the ban, voices support for the states of Washington and Minnesota in their legal fight against the president’s immigration ban, and urges the New Jersey attorney general to join his fellow attorneys general in their amicus brief supporting a federal district court’s stay of the ban.
“President Trump’s effort to reverse our nation’s great long-standing tradition of embracing the world’s most vulnerable people is un-American and disturbing,” said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen), who immigrated to the United States from Cuba as a child. “America is built on immigrants. The huddled masses yearning to breathe free made America the place where people of all backgrounds and creeds can pursue life, liberty and happiness. I’ve lived under a heartless and murderous regime, and I know what it’s like to find freedom. I don’t want that opportunity denied to anyone. With this resolution, we will make our voices in opposition ring clear.”
Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) said the Constitution is not optional. “We as Americans don’t get to pick and choose which provisions apply, when they apply and to whom they apply. We are a nation founded, built and inhabited by descendants of many nations and followers of many religions, and when you threaten the rights of any of us, you threaten the rights of all of us. As state legislators, we are duty-bound to lift our voices in opposition to these actions that threaten the constitutional protections that serve as the foundation of this country,” she said.
Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) said if people don’t voice opposition to policies targeting immigrants, free speech and religious freedom, they are opening the door to other efforts to restrict liberties.
“Keeping quiet or pretending this isn’t happening is not an option. Trump has split up families, detained children and the elderly, caused confusion and disturbingly helped sow anti-American sentiment around the world,” Gusciora said. “He’s making America unsafe, all while chipping away at the values we hold dear as Americans. Those who stand with President Trump or remain quiet at this moment will be judged by history, and it will be a harsh judgment.”
Copies of the bills will be transmitted by the Clerk of the General Assembly to the President and Vice-President of the United States, the governor, the majority and minority Leaders of the United States Senate, the speaker and minority leader of the United States House of Representatives and every member of Congress elected from New Jersey.