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.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

WATCH: Christie says any immigrant who came 'here illegally shouldn't become a citizen'

DES MOINES, Iowa — Gov. Chris Christie drew a hard line on immigration while in Iowa on Saturday, telling the conservative crowd here that people who come to the United State's illegally should not be granted citizenship.

The governor and Republican presidential candidate, speaking on the famous "soap box" at the Iowa State Fair, said unauthorized immigrants should be denied legal status.

"Anyone who knowingly came here illegally shouldn't become a citizen. I just don't believe they should become a citizen," Christie said to applause and cheers from the crowd.

"I think American citizenship is an enormous gift and if you came here by breaking the law, I don't think you should get citizenship," he said. "We don't want people to be rewarded for (knowingly engaging in) illegal conduct. It doesn't make any sense to reward folks for that."

RELATED: WATCH: Pig crate protesters storm Christie's soap box stage in Iowa

The line was delivered during Christie's 20-minute back and forth with a good-sized crowd which gathered around the soap box to ask the governor their questions.

Christie's hardline on unauthorized immigrants spurred about a dozen protesters to chant "citizenship now!" for the remainder of Christie's session.

The group wasn't the only protesters angered by Christie.

Shortly after that exchange, a pair of men who opposed his veto of a controversial pig crate bill stormed the soap box stage. The men, and a woman who also jumped on stage with them, were quickly wrestled off the stage by police.

The governor arrived at the fair grounds located in Des Moines on Saturday morning. He was joined by First Lady Mary Pat Christie and the couple's four children. The governor posed for a picture with his family in front of the famed butter cow at the fair, before shaking hands with Iowans and making his way to the soap box.


Matt Arco may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewArco or on Facebook. Follow Politics on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

New Jersey Latino Communities React Strongly to Trump’s Immigration Plan

By Brenda Flanagan
Correspondent - NJTV

“We couldn’t live back home, because of threats by gangs, poverty, lack of education,” said Li Adorno.

Adorno came to the US from Mexico with his family at age 7. He’s got an office job, goes to college but can’t get financial aid because he’s not here legally. He shudders at Republican presidential primary candidate Donald Trump’s immigration policy which would deport all undocumented immigrants — as Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd.

“We have to make a whole new set of standards. And when people come in,” said Trump.

“You’re gonna split up families?  You’re gonna deport children?,” said Todd.  

“Chuck, we have to keep the families together.” Trump said 

“But you’re gonna keep them together out,” said Todd. 

“They have to go,” Trump said.

“What if they have no place to go?,” asked Todd.  

“We will work with them. They have to go,” said Trump.

“Right, but I feel like he doesn’t fully understand like we don’t come here by choice.  We’re not here to see Disneyland. We’re here because there are better opportunities here,” said Adorno.

Trump lists more reforms on his website — complete the Mexican border wall and hike immigration fees to pay for it, raise penalties for those who over stay their visas and end birthright citizenship — the 14th Amendment, which confers citizenship automatically on anyone born in the US. 

“My parents were immigrants. If Trump got his way — I would lose my citizenship,” said Latino Action Network Vice President Christian Esteves.

Esteves says Trump would discard an entire segment of society, that his extreme views have pushed more moderate Republicans further to the right. Gov. Chris Christie now says he questions birthright citizenship.

“It’s sickening. It truly is sickening that they would take this type of bigoted, racist approach to trying to get themselves into power,” Esteves said.

“There’s the perception a Hispanic undocumented worker comes here to get on welfare — those aren’t the statistics. They aren’t the statistics.  They’re working two-three jobs and they’re sustaining the American economy,” said NJ Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Chair Carlos Medina.

“I don’t think it’s attracting Latinos. I think it’s making them feel like they’re the target of this immigration discussion,” said Louis Zayas.

But Republican attorney Zayas says Trump’s plan does have merit.

“It has some good points — namely, secure the borders. I think everyone would agree, you need to secure the borders. But how you go about doing that is the issue. I don’t think constructing a wall is the way to do it in the 21st century.  I think it’s symbolic and is catering to a certain group within the Republican party,” Zayas said.

“The way it’s set up, it’s not working. Not only for the US but also for other different countries,” said NJ Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board Member Luis De La Hoz. 

The latest Rutgers Eagleton poll says 64 percent of New Jersey residents believe undocumented immigrants who came here illegally should be allowed to stay — to seek US citizenship. Which means 64 percent of New Jerseyans don’t agree with Donald Trump on this issue. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

New Jerseyans Largely Support a Pathway to Citizenship, Show Increasingly Positive Views on Immigration

August 10, 2015

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – As the immigration debate rages on in the race to 2016, New Jerseyans increasingly support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently working in the United States, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Sixty-four percent of residents now believe undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay and apply for U.S. citizenship, an increase of 12 points since last asked by the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll in 2012. Another 15 percent say they should be allowed to stay as temporary guest workers but not be able to apply, down seven points. Eighteen percent think they should be required to leave the country, a decline of four points.

“Last night, Donald Trump claimed no one was talking about immigration until he did, but here in New Jersey, immigration – both legal and not – has been a hot topic for years,” said Ashley Koning, assistant director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University. “In Rutgers-Eagleton polls in the past two decades, New Jerseyans have solidly supported legal status and then citizenship for immigrants. This is not surprising, given that New Jersey is one of the most diverse states and that one in five residents is an immigrant.”

The personal importance of immigration to New Jerseyans has increased over time as well: 14 percent now say it is the most important issue to them, up nine points since 2012, and another 29 percent say it is one of a few very important issues. Thirty-nine percent say it is somewhat important (down seven points), and 17 percent say it is not important to them at all (down three points).

More New Jersey residents also have a positive opinion of immigrants’ impact on everyday life today than they did in 2012.

Photo: Eldar Kamalov

But even with these increases, 41 percent say the number of immigrants in the Garden State is too high, up five points since 2012; another 44 percent say it is just right. Moreover, immigration remains a partisan issue, with notable differences between the two parties and even among Republicans, specifically among Donald Trump supporters compared to the GOP as a whole.

Results are from a statewide poll of 867 adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from July 25 to August 1. The sample has a margin of error of +/-3.9 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

Importance of citizenship influenced by demographics

Immigration is an especially personal issue within certain demographics. Three-quarters of residents who identify as Hispanic support citizenship, compared to 61 percent of non-Hispanics. Similar patterns exist for those not born in the United States and those whose parents immigrated to this country.

These same groups are also more likely, by double digits, to say immigration is personally important to them: 40 percent of Hispanics, 30 percent of foreign-born residents and 21 percent of those with foreign-born parents say it is the most important issue, with the majority of each group saying the issue is at least one of a few of their top concerns.

Interaction with immigrants in daily life also has an impact: support for citizenship and personal importance increases along with frequency of interaction. Over seven in 10 who say immigrants make their neighborhood, workplace, or the state a better place also favor citizenship.

Younger generations are much more supportive of citizenship – though not more likely to say the issue is important – than older ones, as support steadily declines with age.

Importance of immigration does not necessarily imply support of citizenship, however. Among supporters, 15 percent say it is the most important issue for them, and another 25 percent say it is one of few. But those who favor deportation also feel strongly about it, with 16 percent saying immigration is their top issue and another 38 percent saying it is one of the most important.

Republicans now support citizenship, but dividing lines persist

Partisans of all stripes support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the United States, though to varying degrees: Democrats at 78 percent, independents at 57 percent and even Republicans at 51 percent. But Republicans and independents are also more likely to say undocumented immigrants should be forced to leave the country, at 28 percent and 21 percent respectively, while just 10 percent of Democrats say the same.

Those favorable toward former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton resemble Democrats in general, with 72 percent supporting citizenship. Those who like Gov. Chris Christie likewise resemble Republicans in general. But Donald Trump supporters are notably more negative about welcoming immigrants: 46 percent favor citizenship, 17 percent prefer legal status, and 35 percent choose deportation – the highest of any demographic.

“Republicans as a whole have come a long way on the issue since we last polled this in 2012, when they were mostly split over citizenship, with 37 percent expressing support and another 33 percent favoring deportation,” said Koning. “The double-digit increase to majority support in two years is remarkable. But of course, there are many different views about immigration reform on the national stage right now – especially among contenders on the Republican side like Donald Trump. And we see these differences play out when we specifically look at Trump supporters’ attitudes on citizenship, which are more conservative than the rest of the party.”

Republicans are slightly more negative regarding other aspects of the immigration issue. While there are minimal party differences in personal importance, just over half of Republicans feel the number of immigrants in the Garden State is too high, compared to 35 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of independents. Those in Trump’s corner are especially likely to say the number of immigrants in the state is too high, at 58 percent, compared to Christie supporters or the GOP as a whole.

Republicans are also less likely to say that immigrants have a positive impact on different parts of daily life. Nineteen percent say immigrants make their neighborhood better, compared to 39 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of independents. GOPers feel somewhat similarly about the workplace, with about a quarter believing immigrants make it better, versus almost four in 10 of other partisans. As for New Jersey itself, 29 percent of Republicans view immigrants’ influence positively, compared to 40 percent of independents and 49 percent of Democrats. Republicans say they interact with immigrants on a daily basis to a lesser extent than other partisans – at 52 percent, versus 59 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of independents.

Increased interaction and perceptions of immigrants’ positive effects

The overall increase in support for immigration and importance of the issue among New Jerseyans may stem from their frequent interaction with immigrants and their increased belief that immigrants have a positive effect on society. Six in 10 say they interact with someone from another country every day; another two in 10 say a few times a week. The remaining two in 10 interact with immigrants a few times a month or less.

Thirty-two percent feel people born outside the U.S. have made the quality of life in their neighborhoods better (up six points), while 49 percent say immigrants have not had much of an impact (down 12 points); another 13 percent say immigrants have actually made their neighborhoods worse (up three points). New Jerseyans feel similarly about their place of work, with 36 percent saying immigrants have made it better, a 10-point increase since 2012. Another 43 percent say they have had no effect here (down 11 points), and just nine percent say they have made the workplace worse.

Forty-one percent of residents believe immigrants have made New Jersey as a whole better, a nine-point increase. Twenty-nine percent say they do not have an impact on the state (down six points), and 21 percent say immigrants make the state worse, a drop of four points.

EDITOR’S NOTE: ATTENTION POLITICAL, ASSIGNMENT EDITORS, Poll Assistant Director Ashley Koning may be contacted at 908-872-1186 (cell), 848-932-8940 (office), or Poll Director David Redlawsk may be reached at 319-400-1134 (cell) or Questions and tables are available at Find all releases here. Visit our blog at for additional commentary. Follow the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll on Facebook and Twitter @EagletonPoll.

For more Research News, click here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Coalition urges Christie to sign N.J. voting overhaul

TRENTON — A coalition of labor unions, women and minority groups, and civil rights organizations are urging Gov. Chris Christie to a sign what they call a groundbreaking piece of legislation sitting on his desk.

The Democratic-controlled state Legislature sent the "Democracy Act," a sweeping overhaul of New Jersey's voting laws, to the Republican governor last month — though Democratic leaders aren't confident he'll approve it. 

But the coalition of 35 groups sent a letter to Christie this week stressing that the measure would make it easier for more New Jersey residents to cast ballots and would bring the state's "voting practices into the 21st century."

"The right to vote is meant to be the great equalizer, but that equality only has meaning if we have equal access to the ballot box," the coalition says in the letter, according to a copy obtained by NJ Advance Media. "Unfortunately, narrow windows for participation, outdated voting practices and New Jersey's failure to take advantage of technology create unnecessary hurdles for far too many New Jerseyans and limit full participation in our democracy."

If signed by Christie, the measure (A4613) would allow for more early voting options, online voter registration, and automatic registration at the Motor Vehicle Commission. It would also require pre-election materials to be printed in more languages. 

And it would clear up New Jersey's contradictory U.S. Senate succession laws and curtail the governor's power in appointing temporary senators by requiring them to be from the same party as the person who vacated the seat.

It remains unclear whether Christie will sign the measure. During his monthly radio show in June, the governor — a Republican presidential candidate — expressed concerns about automatic voter registration.

"I don't think that people ought to be automatically registered to vote," he said. "Is it really too much to ask to ask someone to fill out a form?"
Christie also suggested the bill is an attempt by the Democratic National Committee to increase voter fraud.

"There's no question in my mind that there are some advocates of this who are looking to increase the opportunity for voter fraud," he said on the radio show. "I think there's much more politics behind this than there is democracy."
Brian Murray, a spokesman for Christie's office, said Monday that "we cannot comment until (the bill has) been fully reviewed on this end, per usual on most bills."
Christie has also criticized former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, after she called for every American to be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18 unless they choose not to be. She also suggested Republican-backed voter fraud prevention laws in Texas and Wisconsin curtail minority and youth voting.
Christie said in June that Clinton "doesn't know what she's talking about."
The coalition noted that it sent the letter during the week of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which Congress passed in 1965 to prohibit racial discrimination in voting across the nation.
Analilia Mejia, executive director of New Jersey Working Families — one of the group's leading the initiative — stressed that New Jersey ranks toward the bottom of the 50 states for voter registration and participation  "thanks to outdated voting practices that don't reflect modern life, modern families or modern technology."
"How can the governor say with a straight face that he should lead the greatest democracy in the world if he won't strengthen democracy and protect voters in his own state?" Mejia asked.
Here is the full list of the 35 groups that signed the letter:
AFSCME Council 1
American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey
Blue Wave NJ
Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law
Clean Water Action
Communication Workers of America District 1
Committee of Interns and Residents
Environment NJ
La Casa De Don Pedro
Latino Action Network
Laundry Distribution and Food Services, Joint Board, Workers United
League of Women Voters of New Jersey
Make the Road New Jersey
NAACP New Jersey State Chapter
National Organization of Women of New Jersey
New Jersey Black Issues Convention
New Jersey Citizen Action
New Jersey Communities United
New Jersey Education Association
New Jersey PIRG Citizens Lobby
New Jersey Progressive Democrats for America
New Jersey State Industrial Union Council
New Jersey Working Families
Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters
Rutgers Council of AAUP Chapters — AFT
Save Our Schools March
Sierra Club, NJ
SEIU 1199
SEIU State Council
SEIU New Jersey State Council
Teamsters Local 469
Union of Rutgers Administrators — AFT Local 176
Wayne League of Women Voters


Brent Johnson may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01. Find Politics on Facebook.