One of the candidates in New Jersey’s gubernatorial race announced his plan to establish an immigration council in the state to assist legal immigrants whose immigration status could be threatened by new federal policies under President Donald Trump. Democrat Jim Johnson, a former Undersecretary of the Treasury for Enforcement under Bill Clinton, said Wednesday that he hopes the council would help ensure adequate legal representation for those seeking to enter or stay in the U.S.
“It’s clear that over the next four years the Trump administration and Republican Congress will continue to attack our immigration system, tear families apart, and attempt to strip resources from immigrants who are trying to create a better life for themselves and their families. In New Jersey, we must protect immigrant communities from these attacks, as well as make them feel welcome and secure in our state,” said Johnson.
“Throughout my career, I’ve worked to not only protect the Constitution, but also to implement solutions that work. These solutions have never involved closing the doors on our American values.”
The“New Jersey Immigration Council” would consist of representatives from the New Jersey’s Attorney General’s Office, Department of Children and Families, Department of Education, Department of Health and Division of Consumer Affairs. Equal access to healthcare, education and secure federal funds for “sanctuary cities” that defy Trump’s new protocols would also be priorities for the group.
Nonprofit organizations and legal groups would also work to recruit attorneys willing to work pro bono. The Attorney General would be called on to provide technical assistance for cities hoping to preserve federal funding despite refusing to enforce new, harsher deportation policies.
Johnson faces an uphill climb in the Democrats’ nominating contest against well-heeled frontrunner and former Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy, and will also be competing against progressive General Assemblyman John Wisniewski as well as State Senator Ray Lesniak.