Johanna Calle, the Executive Director of the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, spoke to APN about their work:
What does the organization do?
The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ) is a statewide membership-based coalition that creates and achieves policies in New Jersey that welcome and support immigrants to become rooted economically, politically and socially within the state. NJAIJ will use the power and strength of its member organizations to ensure that New Jersey’s immigrant communities are leaders in the development of policies that impact their lives and the lives of all New Jersey residents. Through the work of NJAIJ and its members, New Jersey will ensure access to services, support family unity, and develop policies and strategies that provide opportunities for immigrants to fully participate in civic life. The human, civil and labor rights of New Jersey’s immigrants, both documented and those seeking status, will be protected.
Who does the organization help?
The organization works to support immigrant communities in the state of New Jersey, documented and undocumented.
What does poverty look like in the agency’s work?
Low income immigrants have added challenges when it comes to access to services, benefits, or information. Lack of language access and cultural competency can mean an immigrant family doesn't know how to find a shelter, or where to get food, or that their child qualifies for medical services. Undocumented immigrants might fear government agencies and therefore are less likely to seek help. They are unable to adjust their status, not just because of a broken immigration system, but due to a lack of resources or access to legal services. In our quest to support and help immigrant communities in NJ, we must focus on every community member, including those who are dealing with poverty in their daily lives.
Why is NJAIJ a part of APN?
Those working on poverty issues benefit from hearing from the immigrant experience in order to make sure those voices are also represented in the dialogue around poverty. The specific issues that affect immigrant communities need to be analyzed, while also making sure that those areas of overlap are taken into account when we advocates for our causes. It is also important for NJAIJ to be part of APN so we best support our members and partners who support low-income immigrant communities.