EAST ORANGE, NJ — East Orange Mayor Ted Green chimed in on Tuesday, Jan. 9, with the growing chorus of concerns raised by U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s decision to end the Temporary Protection Status of 200,000 El Salvadorans who have been living and working in the United States since they were allowed to emigrate here, after two devastating earthquakes ravaged their country in 2001.
During his time as East Orange City Council chairman, Green also championed immigrants by voting for legislation designating East Orange as a sanctuary city in December 2016; approving a proclamation supporting the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival that former President Barack Obama implemented on Sept. 11, 2016; and passing Resolution No. I-416 on Dec. 27, which condemned the decision to revoke the TPS protections for 58,000 Haitians living and working in the United States after the country’s devastating 2010 earthquake.
Green and City Council joined Obama in supporting DACA, also known as “the Dream Act,” that sought to protect the so-called “dreamers” — children whose parents brought them into the United States illegally — from being deported to their native countries. Obama issued an executive order in 2012, and the East Orange City Council voted unanimously at its Sept. 11 regular meeting to issue the proclamation condemning Trump for rescinding the program and leaving it up to the U.S. Congress to resolve, at some time in the following six months, when work permits and deportation protections that thousands of undocumented young immigrants are scheduled to expire.
Trump set Monday, March 5, as the deadline for DACA to end. Based on Green’s legislative track record, it was no surprise that he issued a formal statement on the Trump administration’s decision to end the TPS designation for El Salvador, much as he and the council did last year, when the same thing was done to Haitians.
“Every time the Trump administration reverses an immigration policy that has allowed hardworking families to find sanctuary, peace and a better quality of life, our nation is taking a huge step away from our humanity and what makes America great,” said Green on Tuesday, Jan. 9. “To send nearly 200,000 Salvadorans — thousands of whom are New Jersey residents — back into the belly of what is considered to be one of the most dangerous places on Earth is cruel and unusual punishment. Like our country, East Orange is built upon the backs of immigrants who sought the American dream. As a sanctuary city, we fully support all federal efforts to reverse this decision and to find a more humane one.”
Green said there’s a reason the council vote on the proclamation supporting DACA and denouncing Trump was unanimous and a reason why the people covered by DACA are nicknamed “dreamers.”
“We want people to want to live here, eat here, die here, but also grow here in East Orange. The city has always been known for its diversity and multiculturalism, not for separating families and pushing kids back to places where they may have come from, but isn’t where they actually live or grew up,” said Green. “We call the ‘dreamers’ because they’re here, they dream to have a future here in the United States, and we don’t want to be a part of disrupting that. The vote went 10-0, because it’s a fact that it’s wrong today, it was wrong yesterday and it will be wrong tomorrow.”
That was good news to Miryam Torres and Orlando Soto of the Hispanics for Progress of the Oranges and Essex County, and for Hispanos Mano A Mano President Cristina Mateo.
Soto said the goal is to have the U.S. Senate and Congress “step to the plate” and create a law that’s going to protect the “dreamers” permanently, “not just an executive order that can expire with a president leaving.”
“We hope and pray that the president sticks to his word, by allowing the legislators to create a permanent law that will protect them and keep them here,” said Soto on Saturday, Sept. 9. “They were born here and they are productive people in our community. They didn’t have a choice. So we hope and pray that the president sticks to his word and the legislators step to the plate and make a law that keeps them here.”
According to Torres, the proclamation approved by the East Orange City Council on Monday, Sept. 11, is a good step in the direction she would like to see the rest of the country go.
“On Monday, City Hall in East Orange is passing a proclamation that is going to go to the President,” said Torres on Saturday, Sept. 9. “One is protesting his views on DACA and secondly is supporting all the DACA students who are here in the country.”