State troopers today arrested five state capitol activists seeking driver’s licenses for undocumented workers. The protesters, affiliated with Cosecha*, sat in an entranceway to the statehouse blocking foot traffic and refused to budge.
“What do we want?”
“When do we want them?”
Arriving in Trenton from New Brunswick, Newark, Maplewood, Lakewood and other points statewide, the activists want the legislature to secure the legalization of licenses for undocumented workers prior to the end of the year.
Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-20) is set to post the bill in her committee on Dec. 9th, even as the
activists acknowledge expectations of a long lame duck process.
The five protesters sat in the entranceway for about 15-20 minutes prior to succumbing to peaceable removal and arrest by the state troopers.
Moments after resolution of the action, Quijano announced to cheers that the bill would be heard in the Judiciary committee on December 9th.
“This is a victory for the people and we cannot give up now,” said Arcelia Vivar, a spokesperson for Cosecha New Jersey. “We have won this battle but not the war, and we are calling everyone in the immigrant community and our allies to continue fighting with us until we win.”
Since the January 2018 launch of the campaign, thousands of immigrant leaders across the state have marched in Trenton, led a 12 day statewide pilgrimage, and participated in hunger strikes and civil disobedience actions. Over the next four weeks, the campaign plans to continue to escalate until the drivers licenses bill is signed into law.
“A driver’s license is not a luxury, it’s a basic necessity,” said Candido Osorio, a spokesperson for the Cosecha Movement. “We cannot depend on politicians who for 18 years have failed to deliver on the promise of passing the drivers licenses bill. It is up to us, to fight for dignity, respect and the right to drive without fear.”
The activists pursuing driver’s licenses have stepped up their efforts in the closing weeks of the year.
Supporters of giving driver’s licenses to undocumented residents descended upon Craig Coughlin’s office Thursday aiming to discuss the matter with the Assembly speaker.
They were disappointed.
All this left the two dozen or so people who journeyed to Coughlin’s legislative office on Rahway Avenue downcast and angry.
Alejandro Jaramillo, the leader of the group, complained that the Democratic speaker was mimicking Donald Trump. Fighting words indeed.
As Jaramillo walked to the front door, a young woman emerged and said he couldn’t enter.
“I am a registered Democrat,” Jaramillo said to no avail.
*Movimiento Cosecha is a national movement to win permanent protection, dignity and respect for all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Cosecha New Jersey is one of many organizations across the state joining the call to have licenses become a reality by the end of the year.