anti bullying Arlene Quinones Perez

Lawyers in New Jersey respond to President Trump’s immigration EO

Recent President Trump’s immigration Executive Orders were the matter of a joint statement made by a number of Lawyers and Bar Associations of New Jersey. We interviewed the President of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey, Arlene Quinones-Perez to expand comments on this resolution.

Arlene Quinones Perez President Trump's immigration

Arlene Quinones Perez, HBANJ President during an interview with Jersey Matters

“The Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey, the Association of Black Women Lawyers of New

Arlene Quinones Perez immigration

Immigration protest during the Women’s March on Washington 2017

Jersey, the Garden State Bar Association, the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey, the New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association, and the South Asian Bar Association of New Jersey denounce President Trump’s EO authorizing federal funding for building a wall on the south border, withholding of federal funds for sanctuary cities that fail to comply with the execution of federal immigration laws, blocking the entry of refugees and suspending the entry of individuals from Arab countries.

“… We join the grassroots social movement to defend the civil rights and uphold the Constitution, and we will continue to mobilize our members to get involved at all levels. We again applaud the action of elected officials who, following principles instead of politics, are speaking out against these injustices, and call upon elected officials at the federal, State and local levels to take action against these unconstitutional and bias-driven attacks on our communities. Something is wrong, and we need to speak up.


Arlene Quinones-Perez, President of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey (HBANJ), informed that several similar statements were released by the organization she represents.

“We kept an email chain among several organizations in New Jersey because we were concerned by the legal implications President Trump’s immigration Executive Orders would have on our system and the population. As attorneys, we believe this is a direct attack not only on immigration and immigrants but on the Judiciary as well,” she said.


President Trump’s immigration Executive Orders have cause fear and uncertainty among the immigrant population

According to ABC News, President Trump’s immigration comments about the U.S. district court’s order blocking the president’s executive action and an appeals court upholding that ruling were not only inappropriate but also inaccurate.

Trump’s tweets mentioned a “court breakdown” as responsible for a surge in people coming from the seven countries: Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Iran, Sudan, Libya and Yemen. However, he never mentioned that those halted by his orders were either permanent American residents with green cards or have gone through an already-extensive vetting process.

“We need to raise our voices to let everybody know that this language and this environment caused by President Trump’s comments are unacceptable,” Quinones-Perez said.

She also remembered Trump’s disqualifying comments on United States District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel during the campaign, as a “Mexican” who couldn’t be objective in his judgment of Trump University fraudulent maneuvers.

Deportation and raids are not new for immigrants

anti bullying Arlene Quinones Perez“Raids and deportations were conducted in previous Administrations; however, President Trump’s immigration measures have made the issue one of great visibility, creating fear and uncertainty in the population in New Jersey and around the country,” Quinones-Perez said.

This aggressive environment has created harsh situations for immigrant children in schools, adults in the workplace, neighborhoods and other places were they go to work, worship, receive education or healthcare, and other activities.

Some even have been attacked or profiled by police just because of the way they look. Stories about children being bullied in schools by other students and even teachers have been circulating around the country.

How this situation affects us all, immigrants or not

“As a descendant of a Puerto Rican family, I feel this language affects me personally and my family. We are citizens of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a status that recognizes our citizenship since birth. But what if this President decides to make the Island an independent state?” she reflected.

Luckily, Quinones-Perez also reminds us that the American system of checks and balances set up by the US Constitution ensures that no one branch of government would become too powerful.

Where immigrants and their families can find information

The HBANJ has been partnering with organizations and working with several cities around the state –such as Trenton and Perth Amboy– to set up educational workshops about immigration issues. They can also provide additional information to the public by contacting their offices.

“Another excellent source of information is the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), where qualified lawyers and professionals can be found for specific cases of deportation or other procedures,” Quinones-Perez informed and she concluded, “This situation is not going to go away too soon or easily. That is why we need to keep raising our voices.”

Border security undocumented immigrants

2016 Presidential candidates on economic impact of undocumented immigrants

At the moment, it is clear that some 2016 Presidential candidates are riding on anti-immigration sentiments to gain popularity. All running candidates have expressed their political positions regarding undocumented immigrants but something important is lacking in their views.

Border security undocumented immigrants

IO GRANDE CITY, TX – DECEMBER 07: A one-year-old from El Salvador clings to his mother after she turned themselves in to Border Patrol agents on December 7, 2015 near Rio Grande City, Texas. They had just illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas. The mother said she brought her son on the 24-day journey from El Salvador to escape violence in the Central American country. The number of migrant families and unaccompanied minors has again surged in recent months, even as the total number of illegal crossings nationwide has gone down over the previous year. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Although still a controversial issue, many economy experts have revealed that granting legal status to all undocumented immigrants as part of a comprehensive immigration reform and permitting them to legally work in the United States would increase local and state tax contributions by an estimated extra $2.1 billion a year.

The nationwide benefit would be an average increase of 8.6 percent in tax revenues. The most significant revenue gain of about 55 percent would be derived from personal income tax, due to both increased earnings and total compliance with the tax laws.

The reality of undocumented immigrants around the country

Founded in 1962 by Cesar Chavez, the United Farm Workers of America is the nation's first successful and largest farm workers union currently active in 10 states.

Founded in 1962 by Cesar Chavez, the United Farm Workers of America is the nation’s first successful and largest farm workers union currently active in 10 states.

Over the past few years, many states have started to offer undocumented immigrants access to schools, housing, health services, driving licenses and even jobs that Americans do not want. But the one persistent question that always comes up is “do these undocumented immigrants pay taxes in return for the social and other services they are provided by the US?” The data on this topic are confusing and it depends on what one reads and to whom one listens. However, the reality is that undocumented immigrants do pay billions of dollars in state and federal taxes each year. The other fact is that the US would benefit even more if many more undocumented immigrants were granted a pathway to citizenship.

State and Federal tax data indicate that about $11.6 billion were paid in 2013, with the lowest taxes in Montana ($2.2 million) where 4,000 undocumented immigrants reside to more than $3.1 billion in California, which is home to more than 3 million undocumented immigrants.

Like all Americans, they also pay sales and excise taxes when they pay for goods or buy services -such as gasoline, utilities, and clothing. Further these undocumented immigrants also pay property taxes. Current evidence indicates that at least 50 percent of these undocumented immigrant homeowners also file income tax returns using Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs). However, there are countless more of them who never file income tax returns but still have their employers deduct taxes from their paychecks.

President Obama’s executive actions are not enough

Undocumented immigratns and President Obama

Thousands of undocumented immigrants are waiting for their time to become Americans. (

President Obama did undertake executive action in 2014 to grant relief to eligible individuals who came to the US as children and to eligible parents of children who are citizens or lawful permanent residents. However, this executive action is still under review by the US Supreme Court. To make matters worse, there are some presidential candidates who are vehemently anti-immigration and have vowed to rescind President Obama’s executive order if they get elected.

The exact number of undocumented immigrants in the USA is not known but at least 11 million of these individuals have contributed to taxes in the USA as of 2013. It is believed that there are perhaps at least 5-7 more million undocumented immigrants who make no contribution, partly because they live in fear of deportation if they were to divulge personal data to the tax authorities.

So where do the 2016 Presidential race candidates stand on immigration?

Overall it appears that both candidates running for the Democratic Party, Sanders and Clinton, have voiced similar positions on the issue of immigration and undocumented immigrants. But there are differences…


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has gone on record and said, “Of the people, the undocumented people living in our country, I do not want to see them deported. I want to see them on a path to citizenship.” Further, Clinton has called for an end to deportation raids of undocumented immigrants who have been fleeing violence in Central America. She has further stated, “Our immigration enforcement efforts should be humane and conducted in accordance with due process, and that is why I believe we must stop the raids happening in immigrant communities.”

Hillary Clint Women’s History Month Celebrating women in a Presidential campaign year

The former first lady, Senator and Secretary of State also defended her border security record stating she voted numerous times “to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in. And I do think you have to control your borders,” having to later apologize for her use of the term “illegal.” She has also stated that deporting the children, many of whom are seeking asylum, would send a “responsible message” that would deter Central American families from sending their children to the United States.


Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders

Senator Sanders’ views on the issues of illegal immigration have also been on the side of comprehensive immigration reform. “We don’t need a wall and we don’t need barbwire. We need to fix our broken criminal justice system…we need to take 11 million undocumented people out of the shadows, out of fear, and we need to provide them with legal protection, and we need to provide them with a path toward citizenship.”

Mr. Sanders, a Vermont independent running in the Democratic primary, said he would grant a blanket stay without threat of deportation to nearly 9 million undocumented immigrants who have been at least five years in the country. He promised that within his first 100 days as president he would expand President Obama’s executive actions.


Republican candidates agreement on undocumented immigrants

If there is a topic in which all the Republican candidates have a similar position, this topic is strong opposing views to comprehensive immigration reform.


Texas Senator Ted Cruz

Senator Ted Cruz, the son of immigrants himself, recently stated, “What you do is, you enforce the law…” Cruz has also been very vocal about deportation and enforcing border patrol. On Jan 28, 2016, at the primary presidential debate he further stated that, “Listen, we can solve immigration. I have a detailed immigration plan designed with Iowa’s own Congressman Steve King and Jeff Sessions, and…We have the tools in federal law to do this now. We can build the fence. We can triple the border patrol. We can end sanctuary cities by cutting off…funding to them. We can end welfare for those here illegally. If I am elected president… we will secure the border…and we will end the illegal immigration.”

ted-cruz-obamacare undocumented immigrants Ted Cruz comments damage the Latino brand and leadership

Ohio Governor John Kasich

Ohio Governor John Kasich, another Republican running for the Presidency, has very similar beliefs as Cruz. At the presidential debate in February he said, Look, the situation is, we need to finish the border. And we can have a guest worker program, where people can come in and out in an orderly way. And then for the 11.5 million that are here, if they have not committed a crime since they’ve been here, I believe they ought to pay some back taxes, pay a fine, never get on the path to citizenship, but get legalization. .And we’ve got to get this done. And I will tell you this, within the first 100 days that I am president, I will put that proposal to the Congress.”


Donald Trump

And finally there is Donald Trump, whose entire campaign has been riding on forcing “illegal” immigrants back home and building a wall. His rhetoric on immigration and other minorities have often resulted in violent clashes at his campaign rallies. Just a few weeks ago, Trump went on to say, “I have a very hardline position, we have a country or we don’t have a country. People that have come into our country illegally, they have to go. They have to come back in through a legal process. I want a strong border. I do want a wall. I know how to build.”

"You are fired!" the famous imprint of Presidential hopeful Donald Trump Hispanic values: Why there will never be a “Latino Donald Trump”

He has further stated that, “We’re talking about security. We’re not talking about religion. People are pouring across the southern border. As far as other people like in the migration, where they’re going, tens of thousands of people having cell phones with ISIS flags on them? They’re not coming to this country. And if I’m president and if Obama has brought some to this country, they are leaving. They’re going.”

When facts don’t count to sustain a political position

The topic of immigration and undocumented immigrants has created a major division in the country. Republican candidates’ anti-immigrant sentiment and bigotry do not to give any credit to immigrants who have spent most of their lives working and raising children in this country and, as shown by the numbers, benefited the country. They want them all out.

Democratic candidates feel we need to reform the immigration system and accept all those who are already here giving them a new lease on life. But do they, really? And if they do, can they?

Any definitive reform in the status of undocumented immigrants will have to wait until the elections are over later this year, and even further depending on the new President and his or her election promises. Once again, undocumented immigrants and their voting families are being played with promises that never seem to be fulfilled. And that is a tragedy for thousands of waiting families.

However, the real tragedy is that none of the Presidential candidates has based their positions on the economic impact of undocumented immigrants in the USA, a fact that has been easily demonstrated many times.

Undocumented immigrants local and state tax contributions by state. Source:


120 days the movie

Family separation, the dramatic decision of undocumented immigrants in film (video)

Undocumented immigratns and President Obama

Thousands of undocumented immigrants are waiting for their time to become Americans.

Every day, thousands of undocumented immigrants live with the fear of deportation, not knowing what could happen to them, their families,  their jobs  and their future at the end of that day. In an hostile immigrant environment fired up by the 2016 presidential campaign, immigrant hard-working families face the dramatic decision of family separation with “voluntary deportation.”

Gravitas Ventures has picked up worldwide VOD & broadcast rights to Ted Roach’s 120 Days: Undocumented in America, the award-winning documentary that chronicles one immigrant’s struggle to keep his family together after an immigration judge orders him to leave the U.S. “voluntarily” within 120 days to avoid an official deportation.

The politically-timely documentary is slated for a VOD release on October 2nd on many platforms, including iTunes (available for pre-orders now), AT&T, Amazon, Cablevision, Comcast, Google Play, In-Demand, DirecTV, DISH Network, PlayStation®, Rogers (Canada), TWC, VUDU, U-verse, and Xbox.

Voluntary deportation

Voluntary deportation is a hard decision for families of undocumented immigrants

The Immigration debate gets personal in this documentary from filmmaker, Ted Roach. Family man Miguel Cortes was detected as an undocumented immigrant at a traffic stop after living in the U.S. under the radar for over a decade. After receiving the judge’s “voluntary departure” order, Miguel, his wife and two daughters have four months to decide if they will send Miguel back alone, or change their names and disappear back into another American city to keep their family together. The film crew joined the Cortes family from the first day in court through Miguel’s last official day in the United States, revealing a hidden side of an undocumented society that few Americans ever get to see.

The documentary had its North American premiere at the Austin Film Festival and was selected for over 20 other festivals, winning 10 awards and four nominations along the way. The upcoming D.C. premiere will take place the weekend of October 22-25, with featured screenings in the Greater Washington Immigration Film Festival and American University’s Human Rights Film Series. The film will also screen at the 2015 Napa Valley Film Festival.


Twitter: @120DaysMovie