Assembling in front one of the largest Catholic churches in the Diocese of Camden’s see city, a wide ranging group announced its intentions to make New Jersey a more “immigrant-friendly” state.
The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice held a press conference March 24 at St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral in East Camden. The previous day it held a news conference in North Jersey, at Liberty State Park, South Lawn, Jersey City.
The launch of the Alliance and its campaign included representatives from about two dozen organizations. Father Kenneth Hallahan, who ministers to Hispanics in Camden and Gloucester counties, was one of four speakers at the Camden event.
The Alliance identified four issues as key priorities for many of the state’s immigrants: rights of workers, tensions between law enforcement and immigrant communities, municipal identification, and driver’s licenses.
“The Alliance plans to pass ordinances and resolutions at the municipal and county levels while also pushing the Legislature for a statewide driver’s license for all,” the group said in a press release.
New Jersey, according to the Alliance, has the fourth largest immigrant population in the nation, with an estimated 525,000 undocumented residents.
“These immigrants bring very positive values to our society,” said Father Hallahan in interview prior to the rally. “God says to welcome the immigrants in our midst and treat them with respect and dignity.”
The Alliance, he said, will “focus on integrating immigrants into the political and social life of the community.
Also speaking in Camden with Father Hallahan were Milly Silva, executive vice president, SEIU 1199 (Service Employees International Union); Harnel Paraison, Hispanic Family Center of Southern New Jersey; and Chia-Chia Wang, American Friends Service Committee