PUBLIC POLICY AGENDA
Our nation was built by immigrants and we advocate for fair treatment of new immigrants in all aspects of the law. We favor comprehensive immigration reform and a path for citizenship for undocumented immigrants. We greatly favor immigrant participation in the United States Census.
We oppose the efforts of local, county, and state governments to enforce federal immigration laws, including such efforts as 287g, the deputization of local law enforcement, local ordinances requiring landlords to determine immigration status, and any similar efforts targeting Latino communities. We strongly encourage, state and local governments to create practical policies regarding the humane treatment of immigrants living in their states.
Thus we oppose cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] as well as the honoring of detainer requests by local law enforcement agencies, and New Jersey state and county correctional institutions. We believe that these detainers violate the civil rights of those being detained.
The Latino Action Network supports legislation at the local, state, and federal levels banning wage theft against workers regardless of Immigration Status. The withholding of earnings for full worked performed or the payment of less than the required minimum wage and overtime standards is a widespread issue that affects many people from different socio-economic backgrounds.
We also support New Jersey legislation granting Immigrant Children that are eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status [SIJS] under Federal Immigration Law access to New Jersey Courts. SIJS provides an opportunity for immigrant children who have been abandoned, abused, neglected or mistreated by one or both parents to obtain lawful immigration status. New Jersey is currently one of two states in the United States where current case law holds that a family court must find that the a child was abandoned, abused, neglected, etc. by both parents before issuing an order that is needed by the child to apply for SIJS with immigration officials. Thus, many children who live in New Jersey who are eligible for SIJS under immigration law cannot apply for this status because of New Jersey state law.
We oppose legislation at the local, state, and federal levels mandating landlords to determine the immigration status of their tenants for any purpose whatsoever. These types of ordinances have frequently been used on a local level to deter immigrants from living in those communities. These types of legislation break down the fabric of communities and promote mistrust and enmity.
Latino children are entitled to equal educational opportunities in New Jersey under the Constitution. Latino children must have access to all programs, services, or resources, available to any other child. We favor in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants that have grown up in New Jersey and graduated from a New Jersey high school. We support greater parental involvement and empowerment by parents in the education system. Informed parents guiding and shaping educational policy is a foundation for creating good citizens.
LAN seeks to secure state financial assistance for qualified college students regardless of immigration status. We won the fight for in-state tuition in 2013 and we want to follow it up in the current year.
We support greater parental involvement and empowerment by parents in the education system. Informed parents guiding and shaping educational policy is a foundation for creating good citizens.
LAN maintains strong opposition to the Opportunity Scholarship Act and our support of the New Jersey Interdistrict Public School Choice Program. LAN also supports more oversight of current charter school programs. We do not support any effort to siphon funds away from public education.
The Latino Action Network opposes the systematic underfunding of the Freehold Borough School District and supports the expansion of school facilities to ease overcrowding for the students of which 70 percent are Latino. The district spends less than $12,000 a pupil while neighboring districts spend on average of about $20,000 a student. The LAN will work with its regional partner, Latino Coalition, to overturn several recent referendums opposing expansion.
(As of this writing an administrative law judge ruled in favor of the Freehold Borough School District but a final decision must still be made by the Commissioner of Education.)
HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES:
LAN supports research and programs to minimize health disparities between the rich and poor.
The Latino Action Network supports legislation at the local, state, and federal levels mandating that employers grant workers the right to accumulate earned sick days recognizing the importance of balancing obligations at home and in the workplace. Earned sick leave permits workers to attend to their health needs and that of their families in a humane way that respects the workers and ensures greater productivity in the workplace and better public health.
LAN supported the successful movement for a $15 minimum wage and calls for its immediate implementation in New Jersey and across the nation. Many workers and their families cannot fully participate in state and nation’s dynamic civic life or pursue the myriad educational, cultural, and recreational opportunities that constitute a flourishing life because many are struggling to meet their households' most basic needs.
We will foster a higher degree of prosperity and economic health for Latino communities by promoting the creation of economic development initiatives, legislation, policies, and procedures that will increase the Latino community’s share of the economy.
The Latino Action Network supports a clean environment and all local, state and federal legislation to improve air and water quality, access to open spaces and parks in urban areas and to combat global warming, especially in areas impacted most by flooding and increased temperatures. In addition, there is a need for research to determine the extent to which environmental hazards are concentrated in working poor neighborhoods and their effects on the health of the residents. LAN pledges to work against construction projects that have an adverse environmental and health impact on communities of color and the working poor.
The restoration of $500,000 for the reestablishment of three Hispanic Women’s Resource Centers in Camden, Newark, and Asbury Park. This was one of the cruelest blows to the Latino community during the budget-cutting process in the first year of the Christie Administration. Latino programs were disproportionately cut and we ask that efforts be made to restore this program which has a modest price tag.
The Latino Action Network supports the expansion of voting rights including allowing parolees and those on probation to vote, language accessibility at the polls for non-English speakers and the removal of all physical and other barriers for the handicapped. The LAN supports the principles set forth with the Working Families Democracy Project.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM:
LAN fully supports the right to vote of persons convicted of felony offenses for people on parole, probation, and in prison.
LAN is committed to monitoring the Racial Ethnic Impact Study legislation (REIS) that stipulates that any bill drafted for criminal just purpose in NJ must include a study that shows what impact the bill will have on communities of color. Further, we submit that all NJ bills drafted that can disproportionately affect communities of color should include a REIS analysis in the bill language.
Evidence suggests that cannabis arrests are disproportionately high among communities of color. The Latino Action Network commits itself to the legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana in New Jersey. Towards that end, LAN has joined the New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform Coalition.
The Latino Action Network opposes a lifetime ban of general assistance to those with prior drug distribution charges. The ban makes no distinction regarding the rehabilitation of the individual over the course of time. Such a ban contributes to homelessness for those who have already paid their debts to society.
LAN is committed to advocacy to treat youth from a more treatment-focused lens vs. incarceration. Over one hundred million dollars are allocated in the current state budget to this end and we actively explore new and creative models to do this better.
LAN supports the dramatic decrease in the use of solitary confinement as a disciplinary tool in New Jersey state and county correctional facilities. Solitary confinement has frequently been abused and resulted in excessive and cruel punishment.
LAN supports legislation that would halt the practice of gouging inmates every time they call their families from a state or county prison facility. Inmates and their families, most of them working poor, are currently charged exorbitant telephone rates and a state surcharge. The funds collected fill state coffers and are patently unjust.
LAN fully supports expanded visitation for incarcerated parent/family, better safeguards for inmates, free access to sanitary hygiene products for female inmates, and the revitalization of the existing Office of the Ombudsman to ensure that prisoner grievances and complaints are taken seriously.
LAN participates as a member in the NJ Pre Trial Bail Commission to actively assist in its on-going implementation 2 years later. Its mission reduce lengthy and costly sentences for low-level non-violent crime shows great promise to date. On average, the court appearance rate of 92.7 percent in 2014 and 89.4 percent in 2017. Concerns about a possible spike in crime and failures to appear did not materialize.
In the Past Decade, We Show Results from 2 decades of Advocacy….
LAN stood against 170 million in funding the construction of new youth prisons in NJ. Now 100 million will be focused on better ways to address youth in our state.
We have achieved legislation restricting isolated confinement on NJ
We have achieved legislation for the restoration of voting rights to 83,000 people returning home from incarceration.
We have achieved legislation on prison gerrymandering which counted incarcerated people as residents of their prison location and not of their home districts, even though they can’t vote in prison due to flaws in the Census structure.
We have achieved legislation on the Dignity Act which reforms the way incarcerated parents interact with their family members. The bill also provides several increased rights such as free access to sanitary hygiene products for female inmates expanded visitation for parents and better safeguards for inmates.
We have achieved legislation to increase protections for the incarcerated against sexual abuse and assault.
We have achieved Parole Reform legislation that releases of low-risk individuals from prison after they have completed their basic sentence provided that they commit no serious disciplinary infractions while incarcerated and participates in rehabilitation programs.
We have achieved legislation to increase inmate educational programs
We have achieved Racial and Ethnic Impact Statement (REIS) legislation that requires any criminal justice legislation being drafted to include a racial and ethnic impact statement on how that law will affect communities of color in particular due to the long standing and historic racial disparities in our state’s criminal justice system.
We have successfully placed a marijuana legalization question on the upcoming election ballot so that NJ voters will decide the fate of legalization in NJ
We have achieved Bail Reform which places pretrial detention on risk to public safety vs one’s ability to afford bail. 4 years later, crime steadily decreasing in the garden state.
We have achieved Financial aid in the form of Pell grants for the incarcerated.
We have participated in the creation of a new policy directive regarding the Use of Deadly force involving law enforcement
We have participated in policies to ensure all law enforcement in NJ possess & use Body cameras on the job.
We participated in dialogue regarding disturbing findings in the police “Use of Force” report. (https://force.nj.com).
We now have an Interactive Mapping the link that tracks Police Violence Nationwide...
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WE DID IT!!!!
Here are the bills that have made it through both houses and were signed by the Governor on January 18! Congratulations!! These bills are a reflection of our collective voice:
1) Strengthening Women and Families Act: A4197 and S1347 (EFFECTIVE: MAY 1, 2010)
✓ Lifts the felony drug ban on TANF and food stamps
✓ Establishes a commission to strengthen bonds between incarcerated parents and their children
✓ Prohibits confining female inmates to male institutions
✓ Requires classification assignments to place inmates in facilities close as possible to family
✓ Establishes the Division on Women as the semiannual depository for all-female inmate complaints
✓ Assigns a DOC Deputy Commissioner to be in charge of issues involving mothers with children
✓ Provides prisoners with information about child support modifications
✓ Requires inmate’s visitation status to be placed on the DOC website
2) Reduction of Recidivism Act: A4201 and S502 (EFFECTIVE: MAY 1, 2010)
✓ Allows for a 90-day grace period for outstanding fines
✓ Provides released inmates with: written notification of fines, outstanding warrants, voting rights, expungement options, an ID Card, birth certificate, a list of prison programs participated in, medical records, assistance with obtaining a social security card, two weeks medication, a one-day bus or rail pass, and a rap sheet.
✓ Eliminates the post-release Medicaid enrollment gap
✓ Establishes a Prisoner Reentry Commission
✓ Establishes a Blue Ribbon Panel for Review of Long-Term Prisoners’ Parole Eligibility
✓ Assigns DOC the dissemination of info on available re-entry services to returning inmates
✓ Provides returning inmates with an outside checking account and gives banks the option of issuing a debit card using funds in his/her inmate account
✓ Requires DOC to report to Gov. and Legislature on results of recidivism reducing measures
✓ Requires DOC-issued ID Card to count as two points when obtaining a driver’s license
3) Education and Rehabilitation Act: A4202 and S11 (MOSTLY EFFECTIVE: AUG., 1, 2010)
✓ Reviews vocational programs in order to meet demand job skills and standards
✓ Allows formerly incarcerated persons to visit any prison in the State for motivational purposes1
✓ Establishes a peer inmate mentoring program in each facility
✓ Establishes the “contract parole” option and annual review for defendants who want to rehabilitate
✓ Provides options for special credits for education and workforce training skills achievements
✓ Requires the DOC’s education dept to use volunteers, technology and private resources
✓ Requires DOC to report an inmate’s educational and workforce training skills progress to the SPB
✓ Permits DOC’s education department to use digital and online technology
✓ Establishes educational and programmatic benchmarks that must be reached within nine years
✓ Assigns the Re-Entry Commission the review of DOC educational programs and policies
✓ Caps parole ‘hits’ at 3 years before being given another hearing
✓ Mandates all community release beds be filled by eligible prisoners before county jail beds
✓ Mandates inmates to participate in education and workforce training programs
✓ Ensures all vocational programs issue state-recognized certification