Government

Protesters Take to City Hall; Demand Protections for Undocumented Immigrants

Protesters gather outside City Hall on Feb. 7 to urge New Brunswick to protect undocumented immigrants. In this clip, they sing "We Shall Overcome." Credits: Jack Murtha
6293040393ab8cc869f7_good_4.jpg
Protesters rally outside New Brunswick City Hall on Feb. 7 to urge Mayor Jim Cahill to put into place firmer protections for undocumented immigrants.
5d03ce089fe2c6df6ef3_garcia_and_clerk.jpg
Craig Garcia of NJ Working Families Alliance delivers a list of demands to New Brunswick's city clerk.
6cee0159b932e9993a8e_city_hall.jpg
A speaker addresses the crowd outside City Hall.
6293040393ab8cc869f7_good_4.jpg

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — As the cold night began to take hold outside City Hall, one of the protest’s organizers floated an idea: the dozens of demonstrators should sing “We Shall Overcome.”

The gospel song was an anthem of the U.S. civil rights movement in the 1960s. The crowd, believing it applied as much today as it did then, erupted with applause and then broke into a chorus of dissent.

“I do believe we shall overcome someday,” they sang. “We are not afraid.”

Sign Up for E-News

This was but a fraction of the scene outside New Brunswick City Hall this evening, after protesters presented the clerk’s office with a list of demands regarding how the city should treat its undocumented immigrants. Demonstrators then gathered on the steps of the building, calling upon Mayor Jim Cahill to enact concrete policies to protect the population in the era of President Donald Trump.

Activists from a smorgasbord of groups attended the event. Their motivation, they said, stemmed from what they considered to be Cahill’s kind words but ultimate inaction toward New Brunswick’s undocumented immigrants.

The mayor and his administration, meanwhile, have pledged their support to immigrants, who comprise roughly 40 percent of the city’s population, according to U.S. Census figures.

“We are here to demand dignity, respect and protection for immigrants,” Alejandro Jaramillo said into a megaphone before the growing crowd outside. “The only thing that they are doing is working hard to bring food to their families. They pay taxes and obey the laws.”

The protesters urged Cahill to issue orders that would bar municipal funds from being used to aid in deportations, a policy that the mayor has said is in place. The activists also requested the city keep track of the requests for assistance that it receives from federal Immigration and Customers Enforcement officials.

Seth Kaper-Dale, an aspiring lawmaker and pastor at the progressive Highland Park Reformed Church, said the mayor ought to form a “neighborhood watch” that ensures parents do not get picked up by ICE agents after dropping their kids off at school.

Local activists have claimed that some undocumented immigrants now fear sending their kids to school or leaving the house.

What’s more, Kaper-Dale said, is that Cahill should lobby state officials in Trenton to safeguard undocumented immigrants.

“When we do not stand up and say this is a sanctuary city, we are siding with an oppressive regime that’s run by Donald Trump,” Kaper-Dale said. “There’s no space for compromise on this.”

The term “sanctuary city” has cropped up often in recent months. The label refers to communities whose policies and general attitudes support and protect undocumented immigrants, but the phrase has no legal definition.

One of Cahill’s staffers recently said New Brunswick is not a sanctuary city. The mayor, however, later added that the city’s actions represent the spirit of the term.

Rain sporadically pounded New Brunswick throughout much of the day. Clouds remained by the 4 p.m. start of the protest, but the rain had mostly ceased, bringing out dozens of pro-immigrant voices.

One by one, speakers took to the megaphone. They condemned Trump’s controversial executive order that banned refugees and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, a talking point that echoed concerns from a Rutgers-driven protest march last week.

Demonstrators chanted phrases such as “No one is illegal” and “When immigrants are under attack, what do we do? Stand up and fight back.”

People from groups like New Labor, the International Migrants Alliance and various local mosques spoke out in favor of undocumented immigrants. They urged Cahill to take a stand for them, despite the possible loss of federal funding.

“We call upon those in places of power to not play a temporary political game,” said Sam Catovic, executive director of the New Brunswick Islamic Center. “Be on the side of what is right. Be on the side of being a great person in history in your locale or your state.”

Some spoke in Spanish. They captured the enthusiasm of English speakers in attendance.

“We are here and we’re not leaving,” said one Spanish-speaking woman.

“I’m scared of nothing,” a man said.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - July 19, 2018

TRENTON - Once the state budget is adopted June 30, you'd think the governor gets a break from scrutiny. Unless you are former Gov. Chris Christie, sitting in that beach chair. Or, now, Gov. Phil Murphy, getting wacked for having the players on his Sky Blue FC pro women's soccer team living in alleged squalor. Living in houses with plastic bags for windows, sleeping in bunk ...

The Jaffe Briefing - July 18, 2018

STATEWIDE - One business in Pleasantville has flooded 32 different times since the early 1990s, and rebuilt each time with taxpayer money. A single-family home in North Wildwood has been flooded and rebuilt 23 times, again, on your dime. NJ.com reports that New Jersey is filled with 3,330 properties that have routinely flooded since the 1970s, some as many as 20 or more times, yet ...

The Jaffe Briefing - July 17, 2018

CAPE MAY - Call it a slow news day, nationwide, as the story of a lost dog somehow hit all the news wires. The pug named "Bean" escaped its owner's rental house over the weekend and wandered around backyards before police scooped it up on New Jersey Avenue. Cape May cops, likely not overrun with rampant crime from the bed-and-breakfast set, had plenty of time to post the ...

The Jaffe Briefing - July 16, 2018

STATEWIDE - No one really wants to talk about it. But every time you turn on a household faucet for tap water, its likely messing with a centuries-old system that's possibly leaching lead. And, because of so many World War I-era systems, some parts of the state have an over-abundance of water, while others easily face drought. Of course, upgrading our water ...

The Jaffe Briefing - July 12, 2018

WAYNE - Honey! Cancel our Aug. 9th anniversary dinner! I've got other plans! That's the night you can join this bozo and scores of others at "Lace," a Wayne "gentleman's club" where America's favorite tramp - Stormy Daniels - will strip live and in person. Stop at the bank, trade in your wad of 20s for stacks of singles.

The Jaffe Briefing - July 11, 2018

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL - There's a Democratic primary in New York between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and "Sex in the City" star Cynthia Nixon. And why do we care? Because our governor is not blindly throwing his support behind Cuomo in the race, reports New Jersey Globe. "We're not getting involved in that," Murphy said, when asked who he supports, admitting he ...

Rutgers Prof to Climb Alps for Climate Change Study on Glaciers

July 18, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Lauren Neitzke Adamo has long enjoyed hiking along trails and through forests and over rock formations largely to see the natural surroundings.

“I’ve been a huge science nerd all my life,” said Adamo, who has a doctorate degree and is co-director of the Rutgers University Geology museum in New Brunswick.

Next month Adamo will head to the Swiss Alps ...

RU ready for RU Brewfest?

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - There's a lot of promotions planned this fall, as part of the Rutgers football season.

Single game tickets go on sale Thursday, July 12, with seven home games. There's matchups against Big Ten East opponents Michigan and Penn State, and a first-time cross divisional meeting with Northwestern.

If football is not your thing, there's plenty else ...

New Brunswick Man Charged in Sex Assault of Ex-Girlfriend

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A city man was arrested today and charged with sexually assaulting his ex-girlfriend and assaulting a bystander who tried to intervene, Rutgers University police said.

Frank Ferraro, 26, was arrested and charged with sexual assault and aggravated assault, university police said.

They said the victim was attacked about 5:27 p.m. Tuesday, July 3,  at the ...

Prosecutor: FBI Agent Took Improper Photos of Woman in Dressing Room

July 20, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK,NJ  - An FBI agent was arrested and charged with illegally photographing a 22-year-old woman in a dressing room, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey said today.

The agent, Danuel Brown, 30, of Piscataway, was arrested was Thursday and charged with a single count of fourth-degree invasion of privacy for allegedly using his cell phone to take pictures of the woman while ...

OPINION

To Our Current and Future Representatives

July 17, 2018

To Our Current and Future Representatives - Wherever They May Be:

We can never forget we are a nation of immigrants. 

We cannot fall prey to fear, ignorance and anger when we  have been historically driven by freedom and justice. 

We must have the courage and will to fight hate, bigotry and prejudice. 

We must not wake up to what we hoped was a bad dream and ...

The Somerset Patriots And 9-1-1 On FOX Are Looking For Hero First Responders

July 20, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Somerset Patriots and 9-1-1 On FOX are asking for Hero First Responder nominations from the community.

Nominate a first responder to be recognized on the field during the pre-game ceremony and throw out a ceremonial first pitch at the Saturday, August 4th Somerset Patriots game against the New Britain Bees at TD Bank Ballpark. Three first responders will be chosen ...

Make the Call, Save a Life

July 12, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - There is much focus on preventative opioid abuse education. Rightfully so. However, the goal in addressing the opioid epidemic is saving lives. Even if that means just saving one life. While people are becoming increasingly aware of resources relating to rehabilitative services, support groups for friends and family of addicts, and training parents for signs of opioid and ...