Trenton, NJ— Thousands of immigrants and supporters are expected to converge in Jersey City’s Liberty State Park on April 6 to tell Congress: The time is now for Commonsense Immigration Reform. A group of New Jersey legislators, labor leaders and community activists made the announcement this morning just minutes before the State Senate voted on resolution SR95, urging Congress to pass immigration reform and “promptly pass legislation to create a comprehensive pathway to United States citizenship.”
“Congress has punted this issue for far too long,” said Kevin Brown, Vice President of 32BJ, and President of SEIU New Jersey State Council, representing more than 40,000 members in seven locals across the state. “Just as Rosa Parks understood that a society that is enslaved, disenfranchised and segregated by law can also begin to win equality by law, we can end this modern day two-tier society by fixing the broken immigration system by law.”
SEIU and a broad group of community organizations including Wind of Spirit, La Fuente, PICO, American Friends Service Committee and the Center for Popular Democracy are urging Congress to pass commonsense immigration reform that includes a realistic path to citizenship, keeps families together, raises standards for all working people and strengthens the economy.
“We can no longer afford to ignore the valuable contributions of immigrant workers, who not only have become part of the rich social and cultural fabric of our state and our country, but are also adding 700 billion dollars every year to our economy,” said State Senator Raymond Lesniak. “Acknowledging and advancing this vibrant community will only help our economy and strengthen our nation.”
Supported by a broad group of unions, community and immigrants’ rights organizations, the April 6th “Time is Now” rally is part of a national week of actions in support of commonsense immigration reform.
The campaign connects people from communities across the country who are ready to work together towards achieving the votes needed to win just and humane commonsense immigration reform legislation: 218 votes in the House of Representatives, 60 votes in the Senate and one signature from the President.
“We all win with immigration reform,” said Caonabo Mercado, a 32BJ member who became a U.S. citizen two years ago. “Workers will be protected, families won’t be divided anymore and communities will benefit too.”
“Few things unite us more as a nation than the belief that America is the land of opportunity,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union). “But for more recent immigrants, that axiom is slipping out of reach as we’ve failed to update our immigration laws to help them become productive, contributing members of our society. Nothing builds stronger families and a stronger economy than a workable path to citizenship that addresses the current face of our nation.”
According to the Department of Labor, workers who were provided citizenship improved their income by 15% during the 1986 legalization process – a change that had a direct impact on stimulating the economy. The Congressional Budget Office also estimates that had the proposed immigration reform passed in 2006, more than $66 billion would have been added to federal coffers.
With 125,000 members in eight states, including more than 9,000 in New Jersey, 32BJ SEIU is one of the fastest growing private sector unions in the country.
ABOUT SEIU NJ STATE COUNCIL
The SEIU New Jersey State Council’s mission is to improve the lives of New Jersey’s working families by fighting for living wages, health care for all, pensions, and the opportunity for advancement. It’s about winning back the American Dream for thousands of hard-working families. We use our collective power to build coalitions, lobby, and hold elected officials accountable on working family issues. SEIU New Jersey State Council represents 40,000 members across the state who work in four major service industries. For more information, visit www.seiunj.org.