For Immediate Release
May 27, 2015
Joelle Eliza Lingat, Chairperson, Anakbayan New Jersey
Driving on the Long Road to Immigrant Justice: Anakbayan NJ Supports Driver’s Licenses for All
Anakbayan New Jersey supports the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice’s demand for driver’s licenses for all. Today, Wednesday May 27th, the Jersey City Council will vote to support a statewide bill for Driver’s Licenses for all. We call on Jersey City to set an example for the rest of the state and to raise its voice to New Jersey legislators and the governor by supporting access to driver’s licenses for all.
Nationwide, states are debating whether all age-eligible immigrants who can pass state driving tests should be able to obtain driver’s licenses. There are about 12 million undocumented people and 270,000 undocumented Filipinxs in the U.S. Allowing access to driver’s license will further protect those 12 million undocumented people, including the 270,000 Filipinxs, all of the citizen and noncitizen passengers that ride in their vehicles, and citizen and noncitizen drivers alongside them on the road. To deny access to proper licensure will fail to address the large population of uninsured and unlicensed drivers that undermines effective law making and enforcement, and ultimately, the true end goal of safety on our roads and access to transportation.
There is an undeniable trend that undocumented families have been systematically deprived of access to socio-economic stability, and are therefore more susceptible to the growing number of food deserts, unsafe housing, and unemployment. Low income families have to travel more to access the resources they need. The need to drive, especially in areas with a lack of public transportation services and deteriorating public infrastructure, will not go away. People will not stop driving, regardless of whether they have their license or not. As a government created by and for the people, it must address the realities of the people that comprise this nation and provide practical, workable solutions to the issues they face or be held accountable to its failure to uphold its original democratic principles.
On February 27, 2013 Jersey City was the first City Council to pass a resolution in support of the Tuition Equality Act, A4225. The bill allows undocumented students who have attended New Jersey high schools for a minimum of three years to qualify for in-state tuition rates in New Jersey’s public colleges and universities, on the condition that they earned a diploma or GED from a New Jersey high school and sign an affidavit promising to adjust their immigration status if the given the opportunity to do so. The statewide bill was eventually passed on December 20, 2013 because of the action of more than a hundred dreamers, community and labor supporters, and social justice activists across the state.
Again, we call on Jersey City to be a leader in ensuring the rights and dignity for im/migrants of New Jersey by joining the seven other municipalities in their call for driver’s licenses for all. Eleven states and DC already allow undocumented residents to drive legally, and New Jersey should follow suit. As the most diverse city in the U.S., Jersey City’s neighborhoods are enlivened with the richness of our various communities’ diverse, but collective im/migrant experiences. Jersey City residents must protect the rights of the im/migrants and descendants of im/migrants that built this town and this nation. We cannot be complicit in the capitalist consumption of im/migrant culture, exploitation of im/migrant labor, and gentrification of im/migrant neighborhoods. Whether first, second, or any generation of im/migrants, as residents of occupied Lenape territory, we are guests on this land, and all peoples deserve rights and dignity.
As Filipinx youth and students we recognize that our families did not serendipitously end up in foreign territory. The U.S. empire, itself, had control of the Philippines from 1898. The nature of the imperialist beast has intensified to plunder not only our lands, but also our people. The U.S. does not have a broken immigration system, but rather an immigration system explicitly and intentionally created for the exploitation and oppression of third world peoples. The U.S.-backed puppet administrations of nations across the world uphold policies that push its people out, such as the Labor Export Policy in the Philippines. Although thriving in resources, our home country’s biggest export remains its people with an estimated 6,000 Filipinx who leave the country every day. The unjust conditions of bureaucrat capitalism, feudalism, and U.S. imperialism plague families that are torn apart at the hands of profit-driven, nefarious politicians.
As third world peoples from all over the world, forced upon this land, we find ourselves at the intersection of continued oppression or reclamation of our struggle. We cannot afford to leave our fellow workers and farmers behind as we uplift our students, as we are all one community. The people of Jersey City and the entire state of New Jersey cannot uphold the class contradictions that government agents with ulterior motives culturally and politically force upon us. We must reclaim our collective fight and demand representatives that uphold principles of genuine justice and liberation for all, or replace them with representatives that do. Resolutions that pass must come from the demands of the people, and if they do not, these figures become placeholders for actual agents of change and can no longer be our representatives. This applies to our issues back home and in our respective home countries as well. Join Anakbayan New Jersey as we demand accountability from our local politicians, and the administration of our home country, with the resignation of our current president, BS Benigno Aquino III, who forces its citizens to migrate because of his crimes against the people. We may be driving on the long road to immigrant justice, but providing access to driver’s licenses is the next green light we must take. Aquino resign! Junk Labor Export Policy! Legalization for all! Drivers licenses for all!
UPDATE AS OF MAY 27, 2015 6:42 PM: Jersey City became the eighth city to pass a resolution in favor of drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants. The campaign will now continue to Trenton, the capital of New Jersey.