TRENTON – Senator John H. Adler wants a panel of immigration, education and labor professionals to compile findings over a three-year study on the quality of life for the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants living and working in New Jersey.
The study also would assess the impact undocumented aliens here have on the health care, education and employment opportunities of those legally residing in New Jersey.
“We are a State of profound diversity in a nation of immigrants,” said Senator Adler, D-Cherry Hill. “It just makes good sense that we develop a comprehensive plan to deal with the lives of undocumented immigrants.”
A bill, S-2250, sponsored by Senator Adler to create a 9-member Commission on Undocumented Immigrants was approved today by the Senate Labor Committee. The panel would be set up in the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and be empowered to conduct hearings throughout the State over the next three years to assess the needs of undocumented immigrants.
“Experts estimate there are more than 9 million undocumented immigrants nationally and say about 400,000 live in New Jersey,” he said. “While they work here, pay taxes here, go to schools here and have the same family health care needs we all have, they often live in the shadows of society without basic necessities because of a constant fear of deportation.”
Senator Adler said the panel will be charged with assessing the problems of undocumented immigrants and their impact on persons legally residing in New Jersey.
“A comprehensive assessment of the contributions and the costs of undocumented immigrants is needed,” Senator Adler said. “We should know their effects on educational, employment, health and other servicves, but we should also assess the cost of not offering them the basic protections of a civilized society.”
Members of the panel would consist of the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, two public members selected by the Assembly Speaker and the Senate President, and six public members nominated by the Governor, including a representative of a nonprofit agency providing services to immigrants, a member of organized labor, a professor from an institution of higher education who has a background in immigration issues, a member of a minority group organization and someone from an urban community.
After its three-year assessment project, the panel would submit its finding and recommendations to the Governor and to the Legislature and then cease to exist, according to the Adler proposal.
The Labor Committee vote was 5-0 and the bill now awaits action before the full Senate.