UNION COUNTY, NJ---Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados, County administrators met today with representatives from the Union County WE ARE ONE NEW JERSEY immigration center and members of Make the Road New Jersey to discuss immigration issues concerning the greater Union County community.

“Now more than ever, with the onslaught of anti-immigration policies being put forth by the Trump administration, we need to ensure that we are well-versed on the impact these actions are having on immigrants, and what we can do to address these issues,” said Granados. “This Freeholder Board is proactively working with non-profit groups such as Make the Road New Jersey to provide solutions to our community’s concerns.”

  “I would like to thank Make the Road New Jersey for this meeting.  Based on the discussions that occurred today, I will work with my colleagues on the Freeholder Board to set forward additional policies that show our immigrant community that we consider Union County a safe place for all and not to fear any interactions with County government for services,” said Granados.

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Some of the topics included in the discussion involving the immigrant community were access to services, protecting the privacy of all residents, ICE, Dreamers (DACA), and deportation (not using tax dollars to separate families.)

Sara Cullinane, Esq., who is the Director of Make the Road New Jersey, said:

“I thank Chairman Granados for organizing this very productive meeting. As ICE ramps up attacks on our communities,  we look forward to partnering with the Freeholder Board to establish policies that ensure Union County is a fair and welcoming place for all residents, regardless of immigration status. Our county resources must be used to promote our health, education and public safety, not to separate families.” 

Make the Road New Jersey (MRNJ), based in Elizabeth, seeks to build the power of immigrant and working class families to achieve dignity and respect through community organizing, high-quality legal and support services, and transformative education.

In addition to Granados and Cullinane, others in attendance included: County Manager Alfred Faella, Deputy County Manager Amy Wagner, incoming County Manager Ed Oatman, Elizabeth Montes of the WE ARE ONE NEW JERSEY immigration center, Brandon Givens, Director of Community Development in the Department of Economic Development, Human Services Director Debbie-Ann Anderson, Corrections Department Director Ron Charles, Lauren Herman, Sara Mora and Nedia Morsy of Make the Road New Jersey.

Also involved in discussions was Mora, a resident of Hillside and Make the Road New Jersey organizer whose family immigrated from Costa Rica when she was three, received DACA status when she turned 16, allowing her to get her driver’s license. Her immigration status made her ineligible for state and federal financial. Despite this, because of DACA, she was able to get a work permit and worked to put herself through Union County College. Mora was recently honored by the Freeholder Board for leading the Pledge of Allegiance at Governor Phil Murphy’s Swearing-In Ceremony in Trenton earlier this month.

Nedia Morsy, an organizer with Make the Road New Jersey originally from Hillside, spoke on behalf of students:

“This was a good opportunity to speak with some of our representatives in government who are decision makers,” said Morsy, noting that a large percentage of students throughout Union County are immigrants. “The timing could not be any more appropriate with the State of the Union coming up, and students living in fear of being deported.”

The Union County Freeholder Board has blazed a trail in supporting immigrant rights during the past several years, including the creation in 2015 of the Union County WE ARE ONE New Jersey immigration and naturalization center, which is sponsored through the Union County Freeholder Board.

In 2014, Union County also became the first New Jersey county to formally adopt a policy declining to hold individuals in its jail based on requests issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without sufficient legal proof. The County Freeholders have sponsored various measures supporting immigrant rights, including most recently this month, a resolution in support of the DREAM act, and Chairman Granados, who is of Salvadoran descent, issuing a statement condemning the Trump Administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nearly 200,000 Salvadorans.