Corzine Initiates Immigration Panel

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

By ALLISON PRIES
STAFF WRITER

JERSEY CITY – Four North Jersey residents are members of a panel created by Governor Corzine on Monday to develop policy recommendations for a statewide effort to help immigrants successfully integrate into New Jersey.

Inside the cavernous historic railroad station at Liberty State Park -- on the grounds that hundreds of thousands of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island walked -- more than 200 people, including military personnel and labor groups, watched as Corzine signed the order establishing the Blue Ribbon Panel on Immigrant Policy.

For years New Jersey has been a gateway to America -- a place of opportunity and new beginnings," Corzine said. "And today we take an important step in creating a comprehensive statewide strategy for weaving immigrants into the economic, social and civic fabric [of] our communities and state."

The panel, headed by Public Advocate Ronald Chen, will spend 15 months looking at education, citizenship status, civil rights, fair housing, health care, language proficiency and employment training.

Chen, who is the child of immigrants, said the state should be proactive in helping hardworking immigrants who he said contribute $8 million per year in Social Security and taxes for benefits many won't collect. He also cited the paradox of the state's current laws.

"We rely on the very labor we outlaw," Chen said.

The 27-member advisory panel includes 18 members of the public who will represent civil rights, commerce, community-based organizations, education, faith-based groups, immigration advocates, labor and service providers. There will also be one member each from the African-American and Latino caucuses of the state legislature. The attorney general and commissioners of several social services divisions will also contribute panel members.

Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes, one of four panel members from Bergen County, says working as an immigration attorney and serving as the mayor of a city with a large immigrant population allows him to see both sides of the immigration issue.

"How do you address this as seamlessly as possible so we are not at risk for bringing people into the system and treat them with dignity?" Wildes said.

The other three members of the panel from Bergen County are:
Monsignor William Reilly, pastor of Most Holy Name Roman Catholic Church in Garfield. He helps immigrants in North Jersey adjust to life here, often representing them as they deal with paperwork and court appearances in their quest for permanent residence.
Samer E. Khalaf of Paramus, an attorney who serves on the board of directors for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee's New Jersey chapter.
Ralph Rivera Jr. of Ridgefield Park. Rivera is undersheriff in the Bergen County Sheriff's Department and formerly headed the State Police's Community Partnership division.

 

Reproduced from The Record
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
by Michael J. Wildes, Mayor, City of Englewood
2-10 N. Van Brunt Street
Englewood, NJ 07631
201.871.6666

 

 

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