More than 100 women attended NCJW/Essex’s fall Lunch & Learn, Beyond the Border: Immigration in America Today. The sold-out event was held at Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston on Monday, Nov. 18.

The immigration experts on the panel were Greisa Martinez Rosas, United We Dream Deputy Executive Director; Farrin Anello, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Senior Attorney; and Rosa Huitzitzilin, Make the Road New Jersey Community Organizer. Yalidy Matos, Rutgers University Assistant Professor, moderated the discussion.

The panelists addressed important topics surrounding immigration, including the politics of belonging, changes in refugee admissions, and how individuals who care about the future of our country can help. The speakers shared their individual stories and urged attendees to sign letters in support of expanding access to driver's licenses in New Jersey.

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Rosas emphasized the power of women organizing, telling the crowd, “to be a Jewish woman in a synagogue today is an act of resilience and courage.” Sharing her own story of being an undocumented immigrant, Rosas talked about difficulties she has faced and how immigrants can be treated poorly by society, adding “[immigrants] carry scars of those statements that have been made about us.”

Rosas also called the current immigration system “archaic” and said that other than getting married, there’s “no pathway to citizenship.” She challenged everyone to “think about immigration in a new way.”

Anello urged attendees to focus on repairing the “broken immigration system,” and on creating fair processes for those seeking asylum. For those seeking to emigrate from some countries, “there is no realistic process,” said Anello. Anello also spoke about the desperate situations many refugees are coming from, citing that they are often “fleeing extreme forms of violence,” including gang violence and domestic violence.

Huitzitilin spoke about the financial barriers immigrants face, and how fees associated with immigration are impossible for people trying to leave poverty to pay.

“We need to think about immigration in a new way,” stated Rosas.

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About National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section 
The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values. NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children, and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms.  With more than 3,200 members, Essex County Section is the largest of the more than 100 NCJW Sections around the country. The Section was founded in 1912 and maintains offices in Livingston, N.J. For more information, log on to www.ncjwessex.org.