Activists on hunger strike to push NJ for licenses for unauthorized immigrants
TRENTON — A group wants to make sure the New Jersey Legislature understands the importance of licenses for people not in the country legally.
Fifteen members of a group called the Harvest Movement of New Jersey are participating in a hunger strike at the Communications Workers of America down the street from the Statehouse. Other members are spending a day or two but the group promises to stay round-the-clock until lawmakers vote. They also plan to walk to the State Street to meet with legislators to make sure they area aware of the strike.
Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, D-Union, and state Sen. Joe Vitale, D-Middlesex, calls for allowing residents to either get a Real ID driver’s license that will permit individuals to board an airliner or enter a federal building, or what is being termed a “standard” license that would not require the "six points" of identifying documents.
They are holding Quijano to her promise that the legislation would pass by the end of the year. Gov. Phil Murphy also campaigned on the promise of signing such legislation.
Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, told New Jersey 101.5's Steve Trevelise on Wednesday that he thinks anything New Jersey does about licenses for immigrants should be approved by Homeland Security.
"Here is my concern. So a person shows up who is here, who is undocumented, and now you're gonna provide them with identification. You know this is the job of the Congress of the United States to prepare and create a path for citizenship. We're jumping ahead of that because the federal government won't really solve this issue, so they want us to create this identification," he said. "It doesn't make any sense to me.”
Bramnick also said it should be a requirement that anyone with a driver's license be able to read street signs in English.
Carlos Castañeda said many immigrant families are in need of a driver's license.
"We hope that 11 months of the driver's license campaign will lead legislators to recognize the contribution the immigrant community has made over the years. Our immigrant community is everywhere in every industry in New Jersey. Landscaping, the farms, construction, factories, warehousing," Castañeda said.
He said it would also allow immigrants to "drive without fear" which would help provide them with a better quality life.
The standard license that’s being proposed would require an applicant to present either a utility or cell phone bill or an apartment lease to prove they resided in New Jersey, but stricter types of identification would not be needed.
"We're not handing out driver's licenses just to anybody," Castañeda said.