LAN

The Latino Action Network is a grassroots organization composed of individuals and organizations that are committed to engaging in collective action at the local, state and national levels in order to advance the equitable inclusion of the diverse Latino communities in all aspects of United States society.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Ending DACA harms N.J.'s economy, wastes future of Americanized immigrants | Opinion


By Erika J. Nava 

Ending the common-sense 2012 immigration initiative that has allowed more than 20,000 young New Jerseyans realize the promise of the American Dream and contribute to the state's economy would waste the potential of these young striving immigrants -- and cause serious harm to the Garden State's economy. 

In fact, New Jersey would be one of the hardest hit states -- with the fifth largest economic loss -- if this successful program is ended.  

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program allows some undocumented young residents who were brought to the United States as minors to stay in the country and work legally. Since its inception, it has given 800,000 young people across the nation a better shot at success. And its recipients have capitalized on the opportunity, getting better jobs, earning higher wages, increasing their participation in the consumer economy and paying taxes. 

But now DACA is under attack and President Trump has only until Sept. 5 to either end the program or fight a lawsuit from 10 state attorneys general; rumors are swirling that he may end the program at any moment. Doing so would disproportionately harm communities across immigrant-rich New Jersey and would be a huge step backward for the country.  

To many undocumented youth who were brought to the U.S. as young children, DACA was the first real opportunity to pursue the American Dream and show their potential in ways that had been denied to them solely because of their legal status. DACA permitted many of them to obtain a driver's license, secure a job that matched their skillset, purchase their first car, travel abroad, attend college and - most importantly - feel less fear that they'd be separated from their families and communities via deportation.  

By stifling these young immigrants' opportunities, ending DACA would also harm New Jersey's economy.  

When more people are able to work legally in higher paying jobs that match their skills, they are less vulnerable to wage theft, workplace exploitation, and less likely to suffer from discrimination due to their legal status. All of these factors help the economy of our state and the nation, as they are translated into higher tax revenue and more economic productivity.  

With 22,000 DACA recipients, only eight states have a higher number than New Jersey. Of these young New Jerseyans, 87 percent are working. They contribute $66 million in state and local taxes each year, the seventh highest level of all states. Ending DACA would cause an immediate 32 percent reduction in those tax payments. 

But the potential harm to New Jersey's economy is much broader than the reduction in tax collections. In fact, if DACA is repealed, the Garden State would lose an estimated $1.6 billion each year in state Gross Domestic Product - the fifth largest dollar loss of all states.  

Ending DACA would also create economic uncertainty for many families.

Many of the young DREAMers -- armed with the slightest bit of economic security -- have been able to take out loans to buy a car or a home, to pay for college or to open a small business. If the program ends, many of these young immigrants will either lose their job altogether, or be forced back into the shadowy low-wage underground, seriously limiting their ability to keep up with loan repayments and starting a cycle of economic distress.   

New Jersey's Congressional Republicans -- who played an outsized role in ensuring that the Trump administration failed to strip health care from millions -- must step up again and put the best interests of the state and country ahead of political party.

Menendez: ending program for immigrant children would be 'heartless'

Sitting on the sidelines and watching as the lives of enterprising immigrant youth are turned upside down is not OK. Our state's moderate voices must join their GOP colleagues from both blue and red states who are voicing their support for DACA and urging President Trump to keep the program intact.  

Despite the myths and xenophobic falsehoods spread by some, we know that once young immigrants are given the chance to participate in America's economy and society, they capitalize on the opportunity.

And we all benefit. Lawmakers should be focused on providing these -- and other -- striving immigrants a real shot at the American Dream, not on stealing their economic futures and dimming ours.  

Erika J. Nava is a Policy Analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal think tank, which drives policy change to advance economic justice and prosperity for all New Jerseyans.

http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/08/ending_daca_would_harm_njs_economy_waste_potential.html

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bail Reform is Working In New Jersey

As members of the New Jersey Integrated Justice Alliance and the New Solitions Campaign, the Latino Action Network has been a strong proponent for bail reform. We are happy to announce that bail reform is working in New Jersey. Below are the five month statistics on bail reform that were recently released by the Administrative Office of the Courts. You can view the full stats here, but below are the main highlights:
 
  • Since January 1st, the jail population in New Jersey has been declined by 19%. When compared to May of 2015, the statewide jail population by almost 36% percent, with reductions as much as 49% in some counties.
  • Around 13% of individuals are being detained after a preventative detention hearing where they are afforded all of their rights. The remaining 87% of defendants are being released on varying levels of monitoring.
 
These numbers are impressive and demonstrate the success of the reform. Because of the  advocacy of our members, thousands of individuals are awaiting trial at home with their families instead of locked up behind bars.Help us spread the word by tweeting the following:
 
#BailReform is working in NJ. @NPR on how the jail population has dropped under the reform while crime is falling. http://n.pr/2txK9x3
 
All eyes are on New Jersey as jurisdictions around the country are looking to us as a leader in pretrial justice. Please see the following news articles that highlight the success and leadership of New Jersey’s bail reform.
 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Legislature is better when leadership reflects state's diversity | Opinion

Many members of New Jersey's Latino community are extremely concerned about persistent rumors that there could be a leadership shakeup coming in the state Legislature next year, including the removal of Assemblyman Vincent Prieto as speaker of the New Jersey Assembly.

Legislature is better when leadership reflects state's diversity | Opinion

By Chris Estevez and William Colon

Many members of New Jersey's Latino community are extremely concerned about persistent rumors that there could be a leadership shakeup coming in the state Legislature next year, including the removal of Assemblyman Vincent Prieto as speaker of the New Jersey Assembly.

Losing his proven, progressive leadership would be a tragedy, not just for Latinos but for everyone else in the state as well.

Almost nowhere are America's evolving racial and ethnic demographics more evident than in New Jersey. A 2015 report found that New Jersey was one of six states that will soon join California, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Texas as places where minority groups form the predominant percentage of the population. At current growth rates, by 2025 New Jersey will be "majority-minority."

New Jersey's rich diversity is one of our greatest assets, both socially and economically. Minority groups in the U.S. have always been enthusiastic entrepreneurs, with the motivation and work ethic that fuel economic growth. The Latino community is an especially powerful economic force in New Jersey. New Jersey Latinos (the seventh largest Hispanic population of all U.S. states) own 116,000 businesses that annually contribute more than $20 billion to the state economy.

Unfortunately, the makeup of the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly don't accurately reflect the state's population.

A recent Stockton University study found that, with the exception of African Americans, who are represented at a percentage level about the same as that of the general state population, New Jersey legislators are more likely to be white (and male) than the rest of us. Hispanics, who at that time made up 18 percent of the general population, held only eight percent of Senate and Assembly seats.

That's a job for voters and political parties to tackle. Making sure minority communities exercise their right to vote, encouraging qualified minority candidates to run for office, and educating everyone about the importance of a racially and ethnically balanced legislative body will make sure all New Jerseyans are fairly and equally represented in Trenton.

But sitting legislators have work to do too. Senate and Assembly leadership also needs to be ethnically and racially balanced, with minority-group legislators elected to fill positions of power, right alongside non-minority members.

There are many issues that are especially important to minority communities in New Jersey. Policies regarding education, language, employment, immigration, and law enforcement often have ramifications for minorities that are not the same as those affecting non-minority residents. Putting minority legislators in leadership positions will help make sure the rights and needs of all New Jerseyans receive the attention they deserve.

In his three and a half years as Assembly speaker, Prieto has consistently fought for progressive values and ideals that benefit Latino and other New Jersey communities. Among other accomplishments, he has helped increase the minimum wage, strengthen transportation funding, and institute fairer treatment of nonviolent offenders. 

Prieto has been a crucial voice in bringing awareness to important issues impacting New Jersey Latinos and other frequently underrepresented minorities. There is little question that Prieto has done an excellent job and deserves to continue as the leader of the Assembly.

We're all in this together. Just as it is good for New Jersey neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces to be diverse, our legislature will function better if it is diverse - bottom to top - as well. 

Chris Estevez is president of Latino Action Network.

William Colon is president and CEO of The Latino Institute Inc. 

Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.



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Monday, March 27, 2017

If Trump defunds 'sanctuary cities,' N.J. will pay more for mass deportations | Opinion

President Trump is threatening to take federal money from towns -- including many in New Jersey -- that refuse to join his extremely costly mass deportation system. 

If Trump defunds 'sanctuary cities,' N.J. will pay more for mass deportations | Opinion

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday that the Trump administration will "claw back" funding to so-called "sanctuary cities" if they refuse to inform Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials after placing an unauthorized immigrant in custody. (Photo by Shawn Thew | EPA)

By Rudy A. Rodas 

President Trump is threatening to take federal money from towns -- including many in New Jersey -- that refuse to join his extremely costly mass deportation system. 

Let's be clear. The issue of "sanctuary cities" is not a problem because towns want to protect noncriminal immigrants.  The problem is that Trump is forcing towns to spend their money and resources on his deportation force. 

Taking federal funds away from municipalities that do not comply could put the jobs of local police officers and teachers at risk. This is a bad policy by the federal government -- a problem that needs an immediate bipartisan response from New Jersey elected officials.

Democratic State Sen. Brian Stack has proposed legislation to help municipalities pay their bills if Trump withholds federal funds. A separate state fund would replace these losses. Unfortunately, Republicans across the board have refused to support this legislation.

Gov. Chris Christie threatened to veto the bill. Gubernatorial candidate and Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli stated that he believes in compassionate immigration reform, but he also stated he is against this legislation. He claims towns that adopt policies like sanctuary cities place public safety at risk and cost New Jersey taxpayers billions.

Criminalizing our best neighbors in Trump World | Editorial

Ciattarelli's reasoning does not make sense. Towns do not want to help Trump because it is a waste of their money and resources to focus on people who are not a threat to public safety. They want to spend money on education, community activities, road improvements, and local public safety initiatives. They also want to maintain the trust between police and the undocumented communities that help keep their neighborhoods safe.  

This fiscal year, municipalities in the state are expected to receive $15.7 billion in federal funds. Trump is threatening towns to either spend time and money on helping him deport people or lose these federal funds. Either way, these towns will not be able to use this money to make positive improvements in their community.

It actually is more expensive for taxpayers if towns agree to become a part of Trump's mass deportation system. 

There are 500,000 unauthorized immigrants in New Jersey. Many have been in New Jersey longer in their countries of birth. Many are married to U.S. citizens and have U.S. citizen children. They haven't applied for legal status for risk of being separated from their family. Despite their challenges, they work hard at their jobs, start businesses, coach their kids' sports teams, volunteer at their churches, and pay their taxes. (According to the Institute on Economic Policy and Taxation, New Jersey's undocumented immigrants contribute nearly $600 million in state and local taxes).

It is state taxpayers and the economy that will face the financial consequences of the federal government's plan to uproot thousands of families. U.S. citizen children left behind will become wards of the state. They will require additional government, social, and educational resources. 

Multiple sectors of the economy will suffer from the labor shortage.  A study by the Center for American Progress showed that if all unauthorized immigrants from New Jersey were deported, the state economy would lose almost $26 billion in annual gross domestic product.

In its entirety, Trump's mass deportation program of raiding, arresting, and jailing will destabilize our state economy and cost New Jersey taxpayers more money than we have to spend.

New Jersey lawmakers should draw lessons from their recent bipartisan efforts to treat wide-spread opioid addiction in the state.  

Christie chose to spend state funds on rehabilitating nonviolent offenders because it costs more to incarcerate them. He also recognized the emotional hardships families suffered and wanted to focus on keeping families together.

Along the same lines, it will cost less taxpayer money for the state government to support towns that want to spend funds on improving their communities instead of causing hardships to thousands of families.  

Last November, the majority of New Jersey voters did not vote for Donald Trump. We proved our belief in compassion, equality, and strong family values.

Now, the Trump administration challenges our values. Trump believes in wielding a heavy hand. He wants to arrest and jail his way out of problems no matter the cost to taxpayers. 

This is bad policy for New Jerseyans, it's a bad idea for the nation.

Rudy A. Rodas is chairman of the Immigration Committee at the Latino Action Network, a New Jersey coalition of Latino organizations dedicated to political empowerment, the promotion of civil rights, and the elimination of disparities in the areas of education, health, and employment. 

 

Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Kim Guadagno misses the point on sanctuary cities | Opinion

In a recent meeting with The Record’s editorial board, Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno called the movement to get cities and towns to designate themselves as sanctuaries for immigrants a “political stunt,” saying that the declarations would not prevent customs officials from enforcing immigration laws and detaining undocumented immigrants. Guadagno misses the point of these designations and exposes her lack of understanding of New Jersey communities with large immigrant populations.

Kim Guadagno misses the point on sanctuary cities

In a recent meeting with The Record’s editorial board, Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno called the movement to get cities and towns to designate themselves as sanctuaries for immigrants a “political stunt,” saying that the declarations would not prevent customs officials from enforcing immigration laws and detaining undocumented immigrants. Guadagno misses the point of these designations and exposes her lack of understanding of New Jersey communities with large immigrant populations.

Cities are designating themselves as “fair and welcoming” out of a sincere desire to improve public safety for all residents by creating trust between immigrants and local law endorsement. President Donald Trump is trying to bully towns into doing the work of federal border patrol agents by threatening to withhold federal funds if they do not. The threat of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids alone has created a chilling effect in many communities throughout New Jersey and the nation as a whole. This fear is compounded by the idea that local police are actively helping ICE round up immigrants for deportation.

When trust between local law enforcement and immigrant communities breaks down, everyone in those communities suffers because immigrants become more reluctant to report crimes or act as witnesses to crimes out of fear of being deported if they come in contact with police. This makes it harder for the police to solve crimes and protect the community as a whole.

STILE: Candidates for governor play it safe, skimp on details

NEW JESEY: First look at the 2017 governor's race

WHAT TO KNOW: Sanctuary cities in N.J.

Throughout New Jersey, immigrants and their allies are asking municipalities to designate themselves as “Fair and Welcoming Communities” meaning that they will take a series of common-sense steps to enhance public safety and community policing efforts, decline voluntary assistance in federal deportation efforts, protect privacy and promote nondiscrimination at the local level.  These steps include establishing policies declaring that civil immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility and local officials will not voluntarily participate in or assist in federal immigration enforcement efforts.

These policies should also include strong privacy protections to ensure that municipal agencies and agents do not inquire about, maintain records about, or share confidential personal information, except where otherwise required by state or federal law, regulation, a directive or court order.  These policies should seek to strengthen protections against biased-based profiling and seek to strengthen non-discrimination protections in the provision of municipal services and the equal application of the law.  In addition, these policies seek to bolster community policing efforts by establishing procedures for U visa certifications, which protect immigrant victims of crime and encourage greater community cooperation with law enforcement efforts.

Guadagno’s statements are even more disturbing given that her office oversees the New Jersey Center for Hispanic Research and Development. After seven years overseeing the CHRD, the lieutenant governor has learned nothing about the Latino community or the needs of the many immigrant and mixed status families that make up the Latino community.

At a time when she should be condemning Trump’s attempts to use local police to bulk up his deportation forces, she is instead trying to dissuade immigrant communities from seeking service and protection from those who are sworn to provide it.

Nothing has changed for Guadagno, who as the sheriff in Monmouth County prior to being elected as lieutenant governor, instituted what is known as the 287(g) program, which allows states and local governments to partner with ICE by delegating authority to the local level.  Instead of standing up against Trump's destructive policies, she is aiding the president in his attempt to tear immigrant families apart.  By telling immigrants to stand down for fear of retribution from Trump, Guadagno shows a total lack of courage or leadership.

Christian Estevez is the president of the Latino Action Network, a broad, statewide coalition of individuals and organizations dedicated to Latino political empowerment, the promotion of civil rights and the elimination of disparities in the areas of education, health, and employment. It was founded in 2009.


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Latino Action Network Denounces Muslim Ban and Wall of Hate along the Mexican Border

Latino Action Network Denounces Muslim Ban and 

Wall of Hate along the Mexican Border

 

Actions are “anti-democratic”

 

For Immediate Release: January 31, 2017

Contact:

Christian Estevez, President – 973-418-7012

 

The Latino Action Network [LAN] today denounced the discriminatory policies of the Trump Administration and pledged to support efforts to challenge the partial ban on Muslims entering the country. The religious ban coupled with the recent proposal to construct a wall of hate along the southern border are “anti-democratic and undermine the core principles of our nation.”

 

“The Trump Administration is sowing seeds of hate and division across the nation,” said LAN President Christian Estevez. “We will do all we can in the months and years ahead to support our Muslim and Mexican sisters and brothers. The LAN pledges to take part in all efforts in the courts and in the streets to oppose our hateful and narcissistic president.”

 

President Trump signed an executive order on January 25 promoting the construction of a wall along the Mexican border as part of his ongoing smear campaign against the Latino community who at various times he has linked to rapists and criminals. It is important to note that for the first time in 20 years there are no Latinos in the federal cabinet.

 

The border wall executive order was followed on January 27 by the equally offensive order imposing a partial Muslim entry ban from seven different nations. It is important to note that countries where Trump owns properties were not included in the list of Muslim nations in the executive order. 

 

Trump represents the greatest threat to American democracy since the Nixon Administration,” Estevez continued. “He is a narcissist and a racist and we will not sit idly by and watch him dismantle our democratic traditions.”

 

LAN is a broad, statewide coalition of Latino organizations dedicated to political empowerment, the promotion of civil rights, and the elimination of disparities in the areas of education, health, and employment. It was founded in 2009.

 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

N.J. Supreme Court must reject systemic racism in affordable housing debate

 


N.J. Supreme Court must reject systemic racism in affordable housing debate | Opinion