This past Saturday hundreds marched through the streets of Freehold attended by immigrants and activists calling for what they feel are much needed reforms in our immigration policy.

The big question is whether or not there should be a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented (read: illegal) immigrants living here, especially in communities like Freehold.

You would think that if INS or ICE officials were at the march they’d be checking the immigration status of the attendees, but that, obviously, didn’t happen.

And given the standoff in Washington, one doesn’t know when, if ever, that would happen anyway.

Hundreds of marchers took to the borough’s normally quiet streets Saturday to call for the reform of policies they deem unjust.

Monmouth County is called home by a growing immigrant community, but they face deportation, racial profiling and other unfair treatment due to the country’s outdated immigration laws, protesters said.

Mindy Kim-Liu, of Wall Township. Said…“I believe it is one of the most compelling issues our society is faced with, a human rights issue that our population must deal with,” “Immigrants put roots down, abide by our laws, work in our businesses, but get now legal respect and face deportation.”

Studies suggest that immigration reform could have economic benefits for New Jersey.

According to Regional Economic Models, Inc., a set of reforms that provide a pathway to earned citizenship together boost New Jersey’s economic output by $1.8 billion and create approximately 19,075 new jobs in 2014.

By 2045, the boost to New Jersey’s economic output would be around $6.3 billion, in 2012 dollars.

Christian Zamarrón, who helped organize the protest said…More than one quarter of New Jersey’s labor force is foreign born.

“We come from all over the place, but our treatment here is many times the same. Having fear of living in your own home, it creates unity among people.”

The protest was part of the ninth annual Latino Festival of Monmouth County, which just so happened to coincide with a national day of action for dignity and respect for immigrants, said Rita Dentino, executive director of Casa Freehold, a local immigrant services organization.

Dentino said. “Immigrants are hard-working people who are making this country better. It is as simple as creating a path to citizenship so these people can be treated like human beings.”

Protesters said that, like legislation that could end the government shutdown, enough support exists in Congress to pass immigration reform laws.

Under the Hastert rule, a Republican Party policy named for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Speaker John Boehner will bring legislation to the floor that lacks the support of a majority of his party.

The policy has kept immigration reform bills that protesters claim has overwhelming public support from being introduced due to the opposition of the conservative faction of the GOP.
Reform would create a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented workers currently in the United States.

A pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.

To most of us whose parents and grandparents came here legally, it feels like a slap in the face. Jumping the fence and staying to enjoy the benefits of what American society has to offer only adds salt to the wound.

But really, how practical is it to round up 11 million or so and send them back to their native countries; rather than give them a pathway that will allow them to become tax - paying citizens of this country?

A far better solution would be to ferret out those who’ve committed felonies; and for the law-abiding, have them undergo a background check, pay a fine, and go to the “back of the line” to attain legal status.

And oh, one more, even though we give lip service to it…more border security!