Immigrant, Latinx Leaders and Allied Organizations Respond to Gov Murphy’s FY2022 Budget Address
Organizations Express Disappointment in Governor for Leaving Half Million Immigrants Behind From Aid, Urge Legislature to Include Immigrants in Aid
(New Jersey, February 23, 2021): Immigrant and Latinx leaders and allies from New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, Make the Road New Jersey, Latino Action Network, LUPE, New Jersey Citizen Action, and Laundry Workers Center hosted a press conference in response to Gov. Murphy’s FY2022 Budget Address.
While Gov. Murphy’s FY2022 Budget provides funds for immigrant kids and pregnant women to access health care and funding for universal representation of immigrant detainees has increased, half-million immigrants and their families were left behind from the FY2022 Budget. New Jersey’s nearly half-million undocumented immigrants pay $600 million in state and local taxes annually and $1.2 billion in federal taxes. Over the past ten years, they have contributed 1.3 billion to UI without receiving a penny in benefits.
Banessa Quiroga, member leader of Make the Road New Jersey said “When I lost my job during the pandemic, I had to survive for three months without any income. I couldn’t provide for my family, pay for rent, food, or medicine. A half-million immigrant families like mine are left behind from aid at every level. Governor Murphy, our state cannot recover if our families are left behind from aid. We urge you to provide pandemic relief to immigrants, including income replacement for unemployed workers and stimulus payments for immigrants.”
Sara Cullinane, Director of Make the Road New Jersey said “The road to recovery in New Jersey will be long and incomplete if our state continues to exclude a half-million undocumented immigrants and their children. We call on Governor Murphy and the state legislature to fund excluded workers and their families in the FY2022 budget with income replacement and stimulus-like payments. We are heartened that immigrant kids and pregnant women will have access to health care and that funding for universal legal representation of immigrant detainees has increased when detainees are dying in jails. Still, there are hundreds of thousands of families living in abject poverty because they were left behind from every form of aid and have not received a single unemployment check or stimulus dollar. At the same time, every billionaire in New Jersey is wealthier today than they were a year ago. Our state must do better.”
Dena Mottola Jaborska, Associate Director of New Jersey Citizen Action said “The Governor’s proposed budget makes important investments in low and moderate New Jersey families, but leaves immigrant families in the shadows, unsupported and excluded, even though it is their essential labor that has helped us survive this pandemic. These workers are not a fringe or unworthy portion of our population but a half-million workers who pay taxes, contribute to our communities, and are striving for a better life for themselves and their children. As New Jersey families look forward to receiving extended and enhanced unemployment benefits, additional federal stimulus, and possibly a state-issued rebate, we cannot continue to pass over our immigrant neighbors and leave them totally unsupported. Their needs are urgent and can no longer be swept under the carpet.”
Dr. Patricia Campos Medina from LUPEPAC said “NJ will not recover from the spread of this pandemic until the half-a-million immigrant families are included as part of our statewide recovery. It is disappointing that once again Governor Murphy chose to ignore the plight of these front-line workers who are keeping middle-class New Jerseyans safe working from home. WE call on the Legislature to act and respond to the plight of the thousands of immigrant workers who like many of us, may taxes and have gotten to relief.”
Amy Torres, Executive Director at the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice said “As the nation passes the 500,000 COVID-19 mortality milestone, few groups are more acutely aware of the need for relief than immigrant families and communities of color. New Jersey’s state budget address today includes promising first steps toward recovery — most notably in healthcare coverage, first-time homeownership, transportation, school aid, and legal services for immigrant New Jerseyans. But we know our nation’s steep inequalities existed long before the COVID-19 pandemic and will take a bold, systemic vision to address. Immigrants have overwhelmingly served on the frontlines of the essential workforce, service industry, and care economy and our communities deserve the assurance that State leaders will do more to build the safety net by asking more of those who have suffered the least. The Alliance applauds these initial steps and looks forward to advancing the priorities of our communities alongside our members and partners.”