Make The Road NJ: BREAKING: Immigrant Leaders, Clergy Risk Arrest to Call for COVID Aid for Immigrants

Immigrants and Faith Leaders Block Traffic outside Trenton War Memorial 

More than Half Million Immigrants and Family Members go More than 6 Months without Aid

Civil disobedience on-going; follow live at


(Trenton, NJ, September 29, 2020) – A group of a dozen clergy and immigrant leaders are currently risking arrest, blocking traffic in front of the TrentonWar Memorial, where Governor Murphy is holding his Budget Signing Ceremony. The group, organized by a coalition of immigrant rights organizations include several community members who have been affected by the pandemic, faith clergy members, and allies. Dozens of additional supporters are also holding a rally on-site urging Governor Murphy and the NJ legislature to create a disaster relief fund that will reach excluded workers and immigrant families.

Two weeks ago, marked six months since the state shutdown and the COVID-19 State of Emergency began in New Jersey. Sixteen thousand people have died, hundreds of thousands have become sick, and millions lost a job or income. Immigrants, their families, and excluded workers are now six months without any relief.

Luis, Make the Road New Jersey member said, “I am an essential worker. As a deliveryman, I have a constant fear of contracting COVID during any of my trips especially since my wife is of high risk. Because our family is mixed-status, we did not receive a single penny of COVID aid making it hard for us to make ends meet and having to choose between which bills we are paying for the month. We urge Governor Murphy and the NJ legislature to fund immigrant families, like ours, who have been excluded from any form of relief.”

“New Jersey’s immigrant families have gone six months living without income, unemployment, or Covid19 relief. With increasing economic insecurity, immigrants and their loved ones remain excluded. A balanced and fair budget must include all residents, regardless of immigration status. New Jersey needs a disaster relief fund so that every household can get their basic needs fulfilled, ” said Maneesha Kelkar, Interim Director of New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice.

“I am an immigrant who, together with my working-class brothers, have contributed to the economy of NJ. Every year this system requires us to pay taxes. Governor Murphy and the legislators exclude us. We need support because COVID is devastating our community. We demand justice and recovery for all,” said Mahoma López, Laundry Workers Center.

“The state’s FY2021 budget again includes no meaningful provisions for our community members,” said Gloria Elizabeth Blanco, Advocacy Coordinator at Wind of the Spirit. “Today we take our cause directly to Governor Murphy and the legislature, to insist on no more waiting for our families who have paid taxes for years but have been forgotten in the worst of times, which we will only get through together.”

Dr. Patricia Campos-Medina said, “There is no fairness or justice, and no end to this pandemic without addressing the needs of the 500,000 tax paying undocumented #EssentialWorkers who live in our cities and towns and work in our factories, distribution centers, and food service industries. We cannot be NJ strong unless we address the needs of those most impacted by this pandemic, immigrants and people of color, who have been left behind by the federal relief package. It is time for Gov Murphy and the NJ Legislature to stop paying lip-service to the slogan that we are in this together. Right now, immigrants are on their own and they are sick and dying.”

“I’m risking arrest today because it is totally unacceptable that undocumented immigrants in NJ pay more taxes than Donald Trump. They pay more than Amazon. Yet they are left behind by nearly every type of aid. We call on Governor Murphy and the state legislature to fulfill the promise of New Jersey and fund excluded workers and their families. Today is the day that NJ and the political leaders can show that people are over profit,” said Jorge Torres, East Cost Coordinator National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

“The state is failing to realize that if we cut support to these workers, we are losing an essential part of our population and economy. As faith leaders, we understand the importance of lifting up and supporting the rights of those who are most vulnerable, and in this case it is not only the undocumented workers that have ben slighted but their families – and their employers. We cannot recover as a state unless ALL of us have access to aid. It is crucial that the governor and the legislature follow through on their commitments New Jersey and fund excluded workers and their families,” said Charlene Walker, Executive Director of Faith in New Jersey. 

We call for a Disaster Relief fund to reach excluded workers and families. This fund will provide income replacement for displaced immigrant workers, excluded from UI, and their families, and a stimulus payment for any taxpayers excluded from the federal stimulus.

  • Flat rate weekly cash payments in the amount of $600 per week to each displaced worker – what a typical low-wage worker receiving Unemployment Insurance receives at this moment.
  • Stimulus payments to ITIN tax filers and their families that were left behind from the federal stimulus: immigrant taxpayers and their U.S. citizen families must receive stimulus payments if our state will be able to socially distance and restart our economy. We support A4171, S2480 Senators Ruiz, and Scutari’s legislation as a first step and urge immediate passage.

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