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2/28 Trenton, NJ: 'Sanctuary municipalities' urged
Released 05 March 2007  By MICHAEL RISPOLI - Courier Post

'Sanctuary municipalities' urged

February 28, 2007


TRENTON - Standing in front of banners in support of immigrant rights, a coalition on Wednesday decried lawmakers for failing to act on immigration reform and laid out plans for new "sanctuary municipalities."

The Immigrants Rights Coalition, made of up Hispanic and Latino groups, spoke about they see as state lawmakers' unwillingness to protect immigrants from discrimination in their communities and from local police.

Manny Segura, a Trenton councilman, said he was disappointed he was the only elected official present at the rally.

"Why is it that they want our support no matter what at every level, but when we need them, they are not here?" said Segura.

The group is calling for sanctuary municipalities, places which prohibit the denial of public services - such as access to emergency medical care or schools - and where police officers would be blocked from asking about a person's immigration status unless investigating illegal activity other than mere status as being undocumented.

Police officers would also not be able to inquire about immigration status of crime victims or witnesses, something Mahonrry Hidalgo, of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey, said would "protect everyone in the community, not just immigrants" and permit witnesses to come forward "unafraid of what would happen to them."

The city of Trenton already has similar measures in order, put in place through a 2004 executive order from Mayor Doug Palmer.

Hidalgo said coalition members have been speaking with leaders in Bound Brook, Paterson, Perth Amboy, Union City and other communities across the state about a similar measure.

Michael Rispoli:

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