A billboard that went up on the New Jersey Turnpike today could have an intended audience of one as advocates for legislation that would provide pandemic relief assistance to undocumented New Jersey workers.
A grassroots immigrant rights organization, Make the Road New Jersey, launched the billboard between Exits 9 and 10 in Middlesex County, potentially in the line of sight of Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.
The bill, A-4171/S2480, would offer a one-time payment to some undocumented tax filers, has more than 40 co-sponsors in both houses – all Democrats.
Still, legislative leaders have not scheduled any hearings on the proposal.
“When my husband lost his job, we were left to struggle to support our infant twins and family without any aid. We pay taxes every year. Hundreds of thousands of families like mine are being left behind,” said Coughlin constituent Christianne Jordan, a U.S. citizen who did not receive any federal assistance because of her husband’s immigration status. “Our state legislature must take action to ensure mixed status families like mine can survive. It is unjust and unfair, and we will continue to fight until everyone is included in aid.”
Assembly Majority Conference Leader Annette Quijano (D-Elizabeth), Assembly Judiciary Committee Chairman Raj Mukherji (D-Jersey City) and Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Trenton) are primary sponsors of the bill in the Assembly. Prime Senate sponsors are Senate President Pro-Tempore Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark), Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden), and State Sen. Nellie Pou (D-North Haledon).
“New Jersey must take immediate action to provide aid to excluded workers and their families,” said Make the Road New Jersey director Sara Cullinane. “How can we flatten the curve of infection and recover as a state if more than a half million people are left behind from aid and cannot feed their families? S2480/A4171 is a key first step to addressing this humanitarian crisis.”