New Jersey: Policy recommendations from Corzine panel would put NJ at forefront of immigration reform

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Tue Mar 31 17:24:24 UTC 2009

Policy recommendations from Corzine panel would put NJ at forefront of
immigration reform


With new report, NJ takes helm of national trend toward integrating
immigrants rather than scapegoating them

JERSEY CITY, NJ – At a press conference this morning, Gov. Jon Corzine
unveiled the results of his Blue Ribbon Panel on Immigration Policy,
which included recommendations for the establishment of an Office on
New Americans to help integrate immigrant families into the state’s
culture and work force.  Policy experts at the Progressive States
Network (PSN) were quick to praise the panel’s recommendations, which
they placed within an emerging trend among state lawmakers to include
working immigrant families into plans for shared economic growth.

According to PSN Interim Executive Director Nathan Newman, who
authored a comprehensive 50-state analysis of state immigration policy
last September, “The story that states are rushing out to punish
undocumented immigrants is really a smoke screen. When you look at the
facts, you see that more and more states are finding ways to integrate
immigrants into a growing workforce and thriving small business
community.  States like New Jersey realize that there is a far better
economic future in working together than there is in dividing the
population against itself.”

According to the report, entitled “The Anti-immigrant Movement that
Failed,” only 11 percent of the nation’s undocumented immigrant
population lives in states with “punitive” or “somewhat punitive”
policies.  States like New Jersey, which are accustomed to large
immigrant populations, tend to have the most inclusive policies, while
states with smaller or newer immigrant populations tend to resort to
punitive measures out of a lack of experience or knowledge of better

Said Newman, “The only states that are rushing to implement punitive
policies are the ones who don’t know what to do with recent influxes
of newcomers into their states. States like New Jersey, Illinois, and
California, who have lived with immigrant families for a long time,
recognize that integrating immigrants into their workforce is the only
viable option to ensure their long term economic prosperity and moral

PSN Immgration and Workers’ Rights Policy Specialist Caroline Fan
cited New Jersey’s combination of large immigrant population and
comparative economic prosperity as proof that immigrant families are
necessary to a robust economy.  At 21 percent, New Jersey has the
fifth highest immigrant population in the nation.  It also has the
second-highest per capita income and the second highest median
household income.

While Fan said that almost all of the policy recommendations would
enhance New Jersey’s economic competitiveness, she singled out a few
recommendations for particular praise. According to Fan, provisions to
reorganize government agencies to provide language access and
culturally competent services through a New Americans Office, , to
extend in-state college tuition to all immigrant children, and to
enforce wage and hour laws and payroll taxes for employers who exploit
immigrant and US-born workers will put New Jersey in a strong position
to build a work force capable of driving the state’s economic
recovery. She also noted that these are budget-friendly changes that
other states can also implement to retain and attract businesses
seeking the most qualified and diversified workforce.

“Immigrant families work incredibly hard to ensure the success of
their children and their communities.  In particular, in-state tuition
can help keep talented New Jersey students in the state, increase
school revenues, and stem the loss of $1.5 billion of tuition by
students who leave the state for college elsewhere. By giving them the
opportunity to achieve the benefits of higher education, there’s
really no limit to the contributions that they can make to our

Fan continued, “Immigrants have long been and will long continue to be
the backbone of New Jersey’s economy and the economy of the entire
country.  If we give these hard working families the tools they need
to excel, we’ve got a bright future ahead of us.”

Said Newman,  “The release of this report represents a landmark day on
which New Jersey is shining a bright light into the future.  If
Governor Corzine moves swiftly to enact the report’s recommendations,
he will be setting a strong example for the rest of the country to
move past the acrimonious and divisive debates that have distracted
the country from working together to create a richer economy and
society that represents our best values and protects all of our

Progressive States Network is a national network of legislators and
advocates that works to implement policies to benefit working families
in all 50 states.

“The Anti-immigrant Movement that Failed,” by Nathan Newman and
Caroline Fan, examines immigration policy trends across the states and
in New Jersey in 2007-2008 and is available at

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