TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is holding a debate within his cabinet and activist groups on a possible executive order that could provide up to $40 million in federal money going to undocumented immigrants, but groups representing those so-called “excluded workers” feel that’s not nearly enough.
Politico first reported the story and Murphy confirmed discussions were happening in his COVID-19 briefing Wednesday.
According to Politico, the money would be funded through remaining federal CARES dollars and was unpopular with advocates, who are seeking larger relief measures, such as $2,000 in direct stimulus payments to individuals and $600 in unemployment-like benefits.
Murphy said that he was “desperate” to find a good solution.
“We are trying very much if not desperately to find a good solution here and I’m confident we can find one,” Murphy said. “Unless we bring all of us along, we will not find our way through this challenging journey.”
Murphy referenced a legislative effort to pass the funding that has been so far unsuccessful.
The state of New York recently created a $2.1 billion “excluded workers” fund in their state budget that provided similar funding after protests led to weeks of hunger strikes.
Activists have been unhappy with the proposed legislation, saying it would amount to a single, $96 payment for an entire year for each person affected, according to Make the Road NJ.
They propose $600 weekly cash payments to excluded unemployed workers and $2,000 for immigrants excluded from the federal stimulus.
Amy Torres, Executive Director of the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice who had members of her staff on the call Wednesday, said both sides were unhappy with what the other was offering, with advocates representing the community calling Murphy’s executive order “woefully inadequate” and representatives for the state calling their asks “several decimals off.”
“This indicates that the state is not serious aside from scoring a couple of political points with headlines by offering crumbs,” Torres said of the call.
New Jersey’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce joined strikers in solidarity Wednesday at an immigrant-run small business in Newark in support of the Make the Road-backed “Recovery for All” campaign.
“How much longer is the state going to force people to fast?,” asked Torres, saying that New Jersey has a larger share of undocumented workers relative to its population than New York.
Torres says that one of the main problems with the executive order is that it was first proposed as a bill in the legislature in Trenton back in May and no action has been done to help excluded workers since.
She criticized both Murphy and Democrats in the assembly and senate for not being able to get their own priorities done.
“They’re following the same thought process,” she said. “The excuse that this is politically unfeasible is a delusional because the governor sets the agenda, sets the tone. The legislature has an opportunity to push harder, they should be looking at this as an opportunity to make a name for themselves.”
(CORRECTION: This article initially stated that Torres was on the call. While members of Torres’ staff were on the call, she herself was not.)