Gov. Murphy passes immigrant Rights bills amid migrant bus tension

After Gov. Phil Murphy signed a package of bills aimed at improving immigrants’ rights on Friday, immigration groups praised Murphy for sticking up for vulnerable communities amid the uproar surrounding busloads of migrants passing through New Jersey.

“We’re one of the most diverse states in the country, and these bills demonstrate that our immigrant populations are an integral part of this state across the board.” “It’s a message we hope our legislators will build on,” said Alejandra Sorto, campaign strategist for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey.

Murphy, a Democrat, signed three measures Friday that strengthen domestic worker rights in New Jersey, require state agencies to translate documents into languages other than English and alter how Asian residents can be identified in demographic data collecting. He called the three new legislation the “people’s agenda.”

Gov. Murphy passes immigrant Rights bills amid migrant bus tension

Former Democratic Assemblywoman Sadaf Jaffer said Murphy’s initiatives are critical for immigrant communities at a time of political uncertainty.

“We need to keep fulfilling the promise of a state that hosts the State of Liberty, and has such a long history of welcoming immigrants,” Jaffer went on to say.

Murphy signed the laws in front of roughly 70 people from various activist groups, including Wind of the Spirit, New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, New Labor, National Domestic Workers Alliance, and AAPI Montclair, at a Statehouse event. They were all involved in the years-long battles to pass the bills.

The new law known as the “Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights,” which requires employers to enter into written contracts with domestic workers, sets requirements for breaks, requires employers to pay the state minimum wage, and establishes penalties for violating the law, including penalties for retaliation, received the loudest applause from the audience.

New Jersey, which has over 50,000 domestic workers, many of whom are Black, Latino, or Asian-American/Pacific Islander women, is now the 11th state to pass legislation protecting domestic workers’ rights. For far too long, these workers have been “treated as second-class citizens,” according to Murphy.

The second of three laws signed into law on Friday compels state agencies and departments to translate some state papers into the state’s seven most common non-English languages. Supporters argue that the translated documents are critical for New Jersey citizens who do not speak English fluently but require governmental services.

Gov. Murphy passes immigrant Rights bills amid migrant bus tension

The measure was originally intended for 15 languages, but it was reduced to seven before it was adopted by the Legislature. Murphy stated that he would like to “keep the door open to evolving that list even further.”

The third law mandates that state agencies improve their demographic data gathering to incorporate additional information about the state’s Asian diaspora communities. Asian people can be traced back to about 50 countries, but breaking that demographic down into smaller, more specific categories — to include Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian and Indian residents — helps uncover trends and inequities in those groups, according to bill supporters.

Immigrant groups praised Murphy on Friday, as Murphy and other New Jersey officials sought to deal with busloads of migrants who had been left off at New Jersey transit stations on their way from Texas to New York City. Murphy has joined Republican and Democratic municipal authorities in claiming that the state lacks the wherewithal to accept the refugees.

In a phone interview, Serges Demefack, coordinator at the American Friends Service Committee, questioned Murphy’s hesitation toward assisting asylum seekers going through New Jersey. Demefack is in favor of all three bills signed on Friday.

“This is a chance for New Jersey and Murphy to say, ‘Look, this is who we are.'” “We are an immigrant state, and we are proud of who we are,” he remarked. “Really, Murphy should be more outspoken on what he has achieved.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has stated that he will deport tens of thousands of migrants from Texas border towns to areas such as New York City since President Biden “refused to secure the border.” According to Abbott, the migrants are willing to leave.

Murphy told WNYC on Wednesday that using refugees “as pawns” is “completely unacceptable.”

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