NJ Turnpike traffic shut down by protest for unauthorized immigrants
Angered over a lack of funding for undocumented workers in the new state budget, immigrant's rights activists ground traffic to a halt on the New Jersey Turnpike during rush hour on Monday.
A caravan of cars left the Grover Cleveland Service Area and then stopped in the car lanes between Exits 12 and 13 about 5:45 p.m.
Many got out of their vehicles and waved red flags as traffic built up behind them.
State Police responded, but the cars had moved on by the time troopers got to the scene. New Jersey 101.5 Fast Traffic reported on delays in the area for about 30 minutes.
Immigrants' rights groups had been demanding nearly $1 billion in pandemic relief for the state's tens of thousands of workers who were ineligible for federal stimulus payments because they are in the country illegally.
They lobbied Gov. Murphy and lawmakers for $2,500 direct stimulus checks and the same amount of unemployment aid as legal workers.
With the state flush with cash from and unexpected revenue surge and borrowed billions last fall, the groups had hoped to convince Murphy and legislative leaders to spend some of that money on the undocumented. They did not.
The budget includes $40 million for some form of pandemic relief for undocumented workers. Murphy announced the program using funding from the CARES Act last May, but none of that money has been spent. Immigration advocates claim that money will help less than 10% of the undocumented workers who lost jobs and/or suffered other pandemic related hardships.
NJ.com reports Monday's protest was organized by a group called Y Nosotros Que, which the website describes as "a grassroots coalition of undocumented immigrant, excluded workers and immigration advocates."
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