Immigration Backers Push For New Laws

Elizabeth Llorente, NorthJersey.com, July 11, 2007

Immigration advocates said Tuesday that they will push for state laws and policies allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, attend college at in-state tuition rates and collect unpaid wages from employers.

The leaders—who included activists, lawyers and pastors—convened at Passaic County Community College in the first of a series of “Town Meetings” that the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey (LLANJ), an umbrella group of Hispanic organizations, plans to hold around the state.

However, at the same time, proponents of strict immigration measures are campaigning to get New Jersey towns to have their police deputized as federal immigration agents.

Their so-called 287G program favors training and empowering local police to enforce immigration laws and lay the groundwork for deportation.

Both the advocates and those who favor a hard line against illegal immigrants attributed their efforts to push for local policies to the collapse two weeks ago of a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the U.S. Senate.

Mahonrry Hidalgo, head of the LLANJ’s immigration committee said federal inability to reform the immigration system has “put the onus on states and local communities to deal with immigrants.”

Hidalgo said the priority must be to convince cities to “declare themselves sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants” and added that a national Latino clergy group would soon announce a list of churches in New Jersey that will serve as safe havens for people facing deportation.

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