100+ Faith Leaders and Clergy Urge New Jersey State Leadership to Prioritize Expanding Access to Driver’s Licenses 

The New Jersey Statehouse and Capitol Building In Trenton

100+ Faith Leaders and Clergy Urge New Jersey State Leadership to Prioritize Expanding Access to Driver’s Licenses 

Nearly 700,000 residents currently lack access to a standard driver’s license impacting mobility , access to community and services.

 

New Jersey– (Wednesday, October 16th) Today, more than one hundred faith leaders sent an open letter to state legislative leaders and Governor Murphy urging immediate action on legislation to expand access to driver’s licenses in New Jersey. Bills A-4743/S-3229 would expand access to more drivers who currently face barriers to accessing a driver’s license, including those who are formerly incarcerated, members of the LGBT community, undocumented immigrants, and survivors of domestic violence.

 

The more than 100 signatories include faith leaders spanning the state from North, South, and Central New Jersey and multiple faith traditions, including Christian, Muslim, and Jewish leaders.

 

In the letter, faith leaders urge action on the need of residents to have access to mobility through access to a driver’s license to take care of children, access medical and social services, and community life. For New Jersey’s immigrant communities, access to a license means being able to drive without fear of deportation and separation from family.

 

Sister Kathleen McGonigle, Sisters of Saint Joseph, said,

“Unless we are Native American, all of us are descendants of immigrants. A way to help our immigrant sisters and brothers is to pass legislation that allows them to get driver’s licenses. New Jersey is a place where it is difficult to move from place to place without a driver’s license. It would allow people to have better access to opportunities, food, medical appointments/care, and childcare.”

 

Reverend Charles Perez of First United Methodist Church of Dover said,

“Driving is a basic necessity in New Jersey, especially for families with children. In Dover, without a license, parents and families are struggling to take care of basic needs and put food on the table.  We must open our hearts and see the humanity in allowing mothers and fathers to properly care for their children by removing the barriers to mobility.“

 

Rabbi Marc Katz, Temple Ner Tamid said,

“In New Jersey, driving is central to everything we do. The ability to get to a grocery store, take your child to the doctor, or even go to work depends on the ability to drive. However, too many people in New Jersey face barriers in accessing a driver’s license. The Jewish faith teaches us to take care of the stranger in our midst. One of the easiest ways to help is by making sure they have access to the needs of everyday life. This starts with ensuring our immigrant, formerly incarcerated, and low-income neighbors can access a basic driver’s license.”

 

Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, The Reformed Church of Highland Park said,

“Our faith community is particularly committed to serving others.  We go out of our way to give rides to the sick, to help people when disasters strike, to help move furniture and belongings in efforts to resettle families.  Some of the most dedicated volunteers are immigrants unable to get licenses. Not only does the absence of a license prevent an individual to care for their own family, it also disrupts the ability to be a giving/serving person in the community.”

 

Rabbi Kerry Olitzky from North Brunswick, Middlesex County, New Jersey said,

“Driving is about access to all that New Jersey has to offer–including the protection of all its inhabitants.”

 

Please find the letter below. For questions on signing the letter, please email Katie Sastre at ksastre@njimmigrantjustice.org

 

The Let’s Drive NJ campaign is supported by a diverse and growing number of faith, labor, and community organizations and supporters from across the state. More information about the campaign can be found at LetsDriveNJ.org.

 

October 16, 2019

 

Dear Governor Murphy, Senate President Sweeney, and Assembly Speaker Coughlin:

 

As faith leaders from across the State of New Jersey, we write to urge you to prioritize the immediate passage of bill A4743/S3229 to expand access to driver’s licenses to all qualified New Jersey drivers, regardless of their immigration status. In New Jersey, driving is critical to caring for family, accessing medical and social services, getting to work, and participating in community life. However, hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents cannot obtain a driver’s license due to outdated and stringent requirements. This includes vulnerable populations such as immigrants without status, low-income individuals, formerly incarcerated individuals who are now re-entering society, survivors of domestic violence, homeless individuals, and senior citizens.

 

Our faith compels us to speak up for those who are most marginalized in our communities. The three Abrahamic religions each call on us to care for the immigrant, the exile, and the newcomer, as do other traditions. The Jewish tradition is clear on the treatment of immigrants. We are inspired by our faith that demands of us not just concern for the strangers in our midst, but also equal and fair treatment of them. Leviticus instructs us that, “When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (19:33-34). Exodus 12:49 makes it clear: “There shall be one law for the native and for the alien who resides among you.” This teaching permeates Jewish tradition and in all is stated 36 times in the Torah – the most repeated of any commandment. It reminds us of how our ancestors were treated as the stranger, even in Egypt, a land where we lived for generations, and of our responsibility towards others.

 

The Christian and Muslim traditions each echo the prophetic Jewish command to care for immigrants. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus lays out this instruction among the criteria for eternal salvation: “For… I was a stranger and you welcomed me…. I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:35-40). In the Qur’an can be found this admonition: “And those who become [refugees] for the cause of God after they had been oppressed. We verily shall give them goodly lodging in the world, and surely the reward of the hereafter is greater…” (Verse 16:41).

 

We cannot remain silent amid attacks on our friends, neighbors, and family members, all of whom contribute immensely to our communities. We must fight hate for the sake of our shared values. This means fighting against family separation at both the federal and state level. Leaders in New Jersey can help keep families together by expanding access to licenses, a policy which would allow all immigrants to more fully participate as members of their communities and make them less vulnerable to detention and deportation every time they go to work, take a child to school or to the doctor, or attend a worship service.

 

Fourteen states and Washington, D.C. have expanded access to drivers licenses to qualified drivers, regardless of immigration status, and we believe New Jersey is poised to join these states. Doing so would increase public safety, help the state’s economy, and increase the well-being of all families. Now is the time to turn our values into action, and to ensure that justice for our state’s most vulnerable is neither delayed nor denied. Please use your power to make New Jersey a more merciful, just place for all of us.

 

Sincerely,

 

Reverend David Ford

St. Matthew Baptist Church

Roselle, NJ

 

Sister Maria de Jesus Herrera, MDPVM

Parish of the Holy Cross

Bridgeton, NJ

 

Sister Sharon McCarthy

Notre Dame Convent

Wildwood, NJ

 

Sister Sheila Murphy

Sisters of St. Joseph

Wildwood, NJ

 

Sister Mary Ann Mulzet

Sisters of St. Joseph

Wildwood, NJ

 

Sister Peg Boyle

Sisters of St. Joseph

Marlton, NJ

 

Reverend Elizabeth B. Congdon

Monmouth Center for World Religions and Ethical Thought

Red Bank, NJ

 

Reverend Carol S. Haag

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton

Princeton, NJ

 

Rabbi Arnold S. Gluck

Temple Beth-El

Hillsborough, NJ

 

Rabbi Justus Baird

Shalom Hartman Institute of North America

Princeton, NJ

 

Rabbi Adrienne Rubin

Independent

Princeton, NJ

 

Reverend Robert Moore

Coalition for Peace Action

Princeton, NJ

 

Reverend Bill Neely

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton

Princeton, NJ

 

Rabbi Joseph M. Forman

Or Chadash

Flemington, NJ

 

Reverend Rob Gregson

Unitarian Universalist FaithAction NJ

Summit, NJ

 

Reverend Dr. Robin Tanner

Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation

Summit, NJ

 

Reverend Emilie Boggis

Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation

Summit, NJ

 

Rabbi Ethan Prosnit

Temple Emanu-El of Westfield, NJ

Westfield, NJ

 

Rabbi Avi Friedman

Congregation Ohr Shalom – SJCC

Summit, NJ

 

Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff

Temple Emanu-El

Westfield, NJ

 

Father Charles Piatt III

Shrine of St. Joseph

Stirling, NJ

 

Luz Marina Bazalar

Shrine of St. Joseph

Stirling, NJ

 

Rabbi Randi Musnitsky

Temple Har Shalom

Warren, NJ

 

Reverend Charles Perez

First United Methodist Church

Dover, NJ

 

Reverend Osvaldo Jimenez

American Baptist Churches USA

Morristown, NJ

 

Pastor Walter Cardona

Misión Bautista de Randolph

Randolph, NJ

 

Esther Leonard

Misión Bautista de Randolph

Randolph, NJ

 

Reverend Rod Perez-Vega, Rector

St. John’s Episcopal Church

Dover, NJ

 

Rabbi Michael Satz

Temple B’nai Or

Morristown, NJ

 

Rabbi Andrew R. Sklarz

Temple Beth Am

Parsippany, NJ

 

Rabbi-Cantor Alan Sokoloff

Temple Emauel of the Pascack Valley

Woodcliff Lake, NJ

 

Reverend Dr. Nathan Busker

Ponds Reformed Church

Oakland, NJ

 

Rev. Heyward Wiggins

Faith in New Jersey

Chesilhurst, NJ

Father John Fisher, OSFS

Diocese of Camden

Camden, NJ

 

Sister Lillian K. Needham

Sisters of St. Joseph

Haddon Heights, NJ

 

Sister Bonnie McMenamin

Sisters of St. Joseph

Camden, NJ

 

Sister Marie Olwell

Sisters of St. Joseph

Camden, NJ

 

Sister Donna Minster

Sisters of St. Joseph

Camden, NJ

 

Deacon Omar M. Aguilar

St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral

Camden, NJ

 

Afia Yunus, Esq.

Cherry Hill Masjid, GCLEA

Cherry Hill, NJ

 

Sister Veronica Roche

Sisters of St. Joseph

Maple Shade, NJ

 

Sister Dorothy Giloley

Sisters of St. Joseph

Cherry Hill, NJ

 

Sister Jeanne McGowan

Sisters of St. Joseph

Maple Shade, NJ

 

Rabbi Larry Sernovitz

Nafshenu

Cherry Hill, NJ

Sister Dolores Clerico

Sisters of St. Joseph

Cherry Hill, NJ

 

Reverend Sara Lilja

Lutheran Episcopal Advocacy Ministry of NJ

Moorestown, NJ

 

Rabbi Benjamin David

Adath Emanu-El

Mt. Laurel, NJ

 

Rabbi Steven Fineblum

Temple Sinai

Cinnaminson, NJ

 

Reverend Geralda Aldajuste

St. Paul United Methodist Church

Willingboro, NJ

 

Reverend Sammy Arroyo

The United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey

Hightstown, NJ

 

Reverend Kimberly Wildszewski

Unitarian Universalist Church at Washington Crossing

Titusville, NJ

 

Reverend Karen Hernandez-Granzen

Westminster Presbyterian Church

Trenton, NJ

 

Rabbi Maya Glasser

Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple

New Brunswick, NJ

 

Reverend Monsignor Joseph J. Kerrigan, Jr.

Holy Family Parish

New Brunswick, NJ

 

Rabbi Philip Bazeley

Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple

New Brunswick, NJ

 

Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky

Independent

North Brunswick, NJ

 

Reverend Karen G. Johnston

The Unitarian Society

East Brunswick, NJ

 

Reverend Dr. Ronald L. Owens

Faith in New Jersey

Metuchen, NJ

 

Reverend Seth Kaper-Dale

The Reformed Church of Highland Park

Highland Park, NJ

 

Rabbi Esther Reed

Rutgers Hillel

Highland Park, NJ

 

Rabbi Ira Dounn

Independent

Highland Park, NJ

 

Rabbi Victor Appell

Rutgers Hillel

Metuchen, NJ

 

Reverend Silvio Del Campo

First Presbyterian Church of Dunellen

Dunellen, NJ

 

Charlene Walker

Faith in New Jersey

Rahway, NJ

 

Rabbi Joel N. Abraham

Temple Sholom

Scotch Plains, NJ

Sister Kathleen Mcgonigle

Sisters of St. Joseph

Middlesex, NJ

 

Reverend Carmine Pernini

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Rahway, NJ

 

Lisa Zittis

Universal Life Church

Stewartsville, NJ

 

Reverend Annie Allen

Brook Presbyterian Church

Vernon, NJ

 

Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz

Temple B’nai Abraham

Livingston, NJ

 

Rabbi Jesse Olitzky

Congregation Beth El

South Orange, NJ

 

Rabbi Matthew D. Gewirtz

B’nai Jeshurun

Short Hills, NJ

 

Sister Mary Juliano

Sisters of St. Joseph

Caldwell, NJ

 

Reverend Javier Viera, Dean

Drew University Theological School

Madison, NJ

 

Rabbi David C. Levy

AJC New Jersey

Millburn, NJ

 

Rabbi Marc Katz

Temple Ner Tamid

Bloomfield, NJ

Imam W. Deen Shareef

Masjid Waarith Ud Deen

Irvington, NJ

 

Reverend Susan Dorward

Reformed Church in America

Bloomfield, NJ

 

Reverend Harriet Johnson

Park United Methodist Church

Bloomfield, NJ

 

Reverend Diana L. Wilcox

Christ Episcopal Church

Glen Ridge, NJ

 

Reverend Gerald F. Greaves

Sacred Heart Church

Bloomfield, NJ

 

Reverend Kathryn S. Irwin

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church

Nutley, NJ

 

Reverend Nicholas S. Gengaro

Seton Hall School of Law

Newark, NJ

 

Sister Eileen

Newark, NJ

 

Sister Kathleen Boyle

Sisters of St. Joseph

Belmar, NJ

 

Sister T. Joyce Valese

Sisters of St. Joseph

Belmar, NJ

 

Sister Therese Dowd

St. Rose Parish

Belmar, NJ

 

Reverend Eugene P. Squeo

New Jersey Forum for Human Rights

Jersey City, NJ

 

Deacon Meynardo G. Espeleta

Our Lady of Mercy Parish

Jersey City, NJ

 

Reverend Bolivar Flores

New Jersey Coalition of Latino Pastors and Ministers

Jersey City, NJ

 

Rabbi Elliott Tepperman

Bnai Keshet Reconstructionist Synagogue

Montclair, NJ

 

Reverend Dr. Anthony P. Johnson

Unitarian Universalist Community Minister

Orange, NJ

 

Reverend Scott Sammler-Michael

Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair

Montclair, NJ

 

Rabbi David Greenstein

Congregation Shomrei Emunah

Montclair, NJ

 

Reverend Leslie Houseworth-Fields

St. Mark’s United Methodist Church

Montclair, NJ

 

Rabbi Ariann Weitzman

Bnai Keshet Reconstructionist Synagogue

Montclair, NJ

 

Rabbi Rachel Hertzman

Jewish Wellness Center of North Jersey

Montclair, NJ

 

Deacon Steven D. Greydanus

Archdiocese of Newark

Orange, NJ

 

Reverend Erwin Izeppi

American Baptist Churches

Passaic, NJ

 

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

Teaneck, NJ

 

Rabbi Julia Andelman

Jewish Theological Seminary

Teaneck, NJ

 

Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz

Congregation Adas Emuno

Leonia, NJ

 

Cantor Estelle Epstein

Congregation Beth Solom

Teaneck, NJ

 

Rabbi Lee S. Paskind

The Rabbinical Assembly

Teaneck, NJ

 

Rabbi Steven Sirbu

Temple Emeth

Teaneck, NJ

 

Deacon Michael Giuliano

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church

Tenafly, NJ

 

Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg

Glen Rock Jewish Center

Glen Rock, NJ

 

Deacon George Carbone

St. Catharine Church

Glen Rock, NJ

 

Deacon Paul Kazanecki

St. Peter the Apostle Church

River Edge, NJ

 

Esra Tozan

Peace Islands Institute

Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

 

Rabbi Laurence W. Groffman

Cedar Grove, NJ

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