Laurie Woog, Cynthia Marques Russo, Sheila Moreira and Milena Wilson, local members of the New Jersey chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) traveled to Washington, D.C. with their chapter and other state delegations, visiting Congressional offices to make the case for a much-needed overhaul of the nation's immigration system and to share examples of how immigrants make a positive contribution to our state.
"President Trump has proposed or implemented several policies that would damage New Jersey families and businesses, such as the ban on Muslims and refugees, the expensive and wasteful border wall, separating women and children at the border and jailing more non-criminal immigrants. As part of AILA's National Day of Action, the New Jersey chapter advocated on Capitol Hill for necessary reforms to America's outdated immigration system and to prevent policies that would hurt New Jersey companies like mass raids and deportations. We were proud to take part in this unique opportunity to stand united with colleagues, clients, coalition partners, and other AILA members, to ask Congress to advance real solutions that improve our immigration system for the benefit of our economy, communities and all Americans," Russo said.
On April 6, the chapter members visited the offices of most of New Jersey’s senators and representatives, including local reps Leonard Lance and Bonnie Watson-Coleman. The representatives or their staffers discussed their positions on various immigration issues. At each meeting, the chapter shared examples of real immigrants contributing to our community, and highlighted ways our laws could be reformed to increase our shared safety and prosperity, also emphasizing that discriminating against someone because of their religion or where they are from is not the American way and just isn’t right.
“We need Congress to pass immigration reform that ensures America has smart, fair laws that will keep families together and help build our economy," said Woog, who brought up specific examples of DACA recipients who have grown up in Union County, who are now pursuing college, nursing studies and contributing to the economy but are worried about their uncertain future in the U.S.
"When the vast majority of Americans, including supporters of President Trump, support offering a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants living and working in our communities, a draconian enforcement- only approach isn't pragmatic. We need solutions, not more policies that cost taxpayers billions and don't improve our national security," noted Sheila Moreira, an immigration attorney in Rahway who lives in Garwood. The chapter members emphasized that many of the “best and brightest” in New Jersey, including doctors, health care workers, DACA recipients and international students, face an uncertain future and are looking to other countries where they might be able to contribute their talents, such as Canada.
"We all benefit when the best and the brightest from all over the world can come to America, bringing their creativity and innovative spirit and building new industries. We need Congress to lead on this today," Wilson concluded.