On Wednesday, on the steps of Camden’s St Joseph Pro-Cathedral, a newly-formed activist group under the moniker New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice staged a rally in support of immigration reform. This was part of a new state campaign, called New Jersey for All, which is intended to encourage the state to change policies in favor of immigrants, including allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.
The rally was staged hot on the heels of the signing of an amicus brief by the Christie administration in New Jersey, along with the states of Louisiana, South Dakota and Texas, to try to stop the executive action taken by President Obama on immigration reform last November. Alliance for Immigrant Justice coordinator Johanna Calle called this action “a shameful political move”.
Calle says that ten states are currently allowing undocumented immigrants to hold driver’s licenses; however, New Jersey is not among this number, despite having the fourth biggest population of undocumented immigrants in the United States, with over 525,000. Calle says that the current aim of the Alliance is to start change from the local community.
The Alliance is particularly interested in the practice of police officers reporting undocumented immigrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement when they are pulled over, which is not a requirement of federal law. The Alliance wants local communities to make it clear to their law enforcement officials that they want this practice stopped.