FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 8, 2020

Contact: Deya Aldana deyanira.aldana@maketheroadnj.org 732-586-3625

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New Jersey Is Home: Make the Road NJ Dreamers, Including Frontline COVID Workers Launch Platform on How New Jersey Can Protect DACA Recipients as U.S. Supreme Court Readies Decision on Future of DACA

Platform Calls for New Jersey to Create a DACA Renewal Fund, Expand Access to Occupational Licenses and Health Care, Plus Protection from Deportation

Elizabeth, NJ: Today, DACA recipients, including frontline COVID-19 workers, joined by Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, announced New Jersey is Our Home: How the Garden State Can Protect Dreamers, a platform that calls on New Jersey to take steps to support undocumented youth as the U.S. Supreme Court readies its decision on the DACA program. As early as this month, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the Trump administration's decision to terminate DACA, which provides protection from deportation to immigrant youth who came this country as children. The future of more than 53,000 DACA eligible young people in New Jersey hangs in the balance. The platform calls for New Jersey to create a DACA renewal fund to help DACA recipients renew their status before the court’s decision, as well as expanded access to occupational licenses, health care and protection from deportation by ensuring the state ends contracts with ICE and provides access to counsel for all.

“As the COVID pandemic rages, DACA recipients are facing twin crises. Not only are our lives at risk like so many others across the globe. Our future in this country is also at risk. It is urgent that New Jersey stand up to protect the more than 53,000 DACA eligible young people in New Jersey before the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the Trump administration’s decision to make us vulnerable to deportation. As a future teacher, I urge the state to take action on our New Jersey is Our Home priorities and I thank Assemblyman Mukherji for joining us,” said Maria del Cielo Mendez, member of Make the Road New Jersey.

"The attack on Dreamers has been a tragedy of the Trump administration," said Senator Nellie Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic). "Dreamers work in every sector of our society, from serving in the military to today being on the front lines combating the COVID-19 crisis. I hope that in this moment especially the Supreme Court of the United States will recognize the merits of the DACA program and the immense contribution Dreamers make to this country."

“As a DACA recipient and frontline healthcare worker, I help families everyday who do not have health insurance get the medical support they need. With the current pandemic I have been on the front lines for several weeks without a day of rest, and just this week I tested positive for COVID-19. Because of my DACA status, I am able to work at a place that provides health insurance. That wouldn’t be true if I lose my DACA status. If I lose my DACA status, I would lose my job and I won’t be eligible for NJ Family Cares. All immigrants regardless of their status have should have health insurance. That's why I’m supporting the #NJisHome platform. It calls for health care access for all undocumented immigrants. We all deserve access to have  treatment and care,” said Vanessa Garcia of Lodi, NJ.

On September 5, 2017 the Trump Administration ended DACA, upending the lives of about 800,000 immigrant young people who call the United States home. DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, gives protection from deportation and work authorization to immigrants who came to this country as children and have pursued an education here since 2012, when President Obama announced the program. As the U.S. Supreme Court readies to issue a ruling on the legality of the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA, the lives of immigrant youth across the country are again thrust into uncertainty and many face the threat of deportation and separation from their families and the only country they know. 

In New Jersey, there are 53,000 DACA eligible individuals. About 16,620 individuals currently have active DACA status since Trump ended the program and blocked potentially eligible individuals from applying. With DACA many immigrant young people in New Jersey have been able to graduate college, get a job, and have health insurance. About 5,200 U.S. citizen children in New Jersey have a DACA parent. DACA-eligible New Jersey residents earned an estimated $811.9 million in New Jersey in 2015, and paid an estimated $100 million in state and local taxes. If DACA workers were removed from the economy, New Jersey would lose an estimated $1.587 billion in annual GDP losses.  Immigrant young people with DACA have been given the opportunity to thrive not just survive.

  • Start a DACA renewal fund to help Dreamers renew their DACA in these economically uncertain times before the U.S. Supreme Court ruling takes away our status.
  • Expand Access to Occupational Licenses: Out of date and unconstitutional laws mean that many immigrants are barred from accessing professional licenses. DACA recipients are currently studying or working in professions that are vital to our state, including frontline health care professions. New Jersey should immediately pass legislation to remove barriers to licensing.
  • Stop Deportations and Guarantee Counsel: Dreamers are currently vulnerable to deportation and have been targeted under the Trump administration. Secretary Albence has confirmed that DHS will deport Dreamers should the U.S. Supreme Court affirm the end of the DACA program. New Jersey counties must cut all contracts with ICE and New Jersey must fully fund the legal representation program for immigrant detainees so no one fights deportation on their own.
  • Health Care For All: As our state undergoes one of the worst public health crises, and Dreamers lose employer based health care, we urge the state legislature to include immigrant communities in state funded health care.

You can read the full platform here:

https://www.maketheroadnj.org/new_jersey_is_our_home
http://www.maketheroadnj.org/