4 Ways to Help New Jersey Communities & Families
Yesterday, I watched two strangers — a supporter of President-elect Trump and a supporter of Secretary Clinton — scream at each other in the street. Not at a rally, but at an ordinary commuter station. Two different friends reported firsthand accounts of supporters of each of the candidates denying services to people who supported the opponent. We are better than this. We must engage with each other, even while we oppose the policies that are already tearing the fabric of our communities and threaten even greater harm.
The policies announced by the next Administration already present grave challenges to people across our state on immigration, a woman’s power over her own body, the availability of affordable housing, and the progress we have made in healing the relationship between police and the communities they serve. It is naive to believe that the governor of any state can ignore the consequences of federal policymaking. We must prepare now to protect New Jersey families and defend fundamental rights.
As Governor, I will always stand firm in defense of New Jersey and our values. But I will need the help of all New Jersey residents in this effort. Back room deals, insiders and special interests have taken New Jersey, and this nation, down the wrong path, and they won’t lead us to higher ground. Only by working together for the common good will we move New Jersey forward.
That’s why I am proposing the following concrete steps right now to help New Jersey communities and families:
(1) I will be inviting the state’s major bar associations and civil rights organizations to step up their pro bono support to families who fear that family members will be subject to deportation. Training for those efforts costs money, and we should be willing to provide financial support for expanded training programs. I know that such efforts can be effective. I pulled together a similar effort as Chair of the Brennan Center for Justice. New Jersey families need a stepped-up effort right now. Families should not feel that they are on their own in facing these hard obstacles. We can and should stand with them.
(2) As Under Secretary for Enforcement, it was my duty and privilege to direct the agents that helped bring in one of the nation’s most notorious abortion clinic bombers. Just last Spring, I was proud to stand with my wife as she led the successful case against sham clinic shutdown laws. I was also honored to join women from across the state as we went to Congress to lobby for the passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act. As a state, we should fully fund Planned Parenthood, and I urge citizens to write their federal representatives to make their concerns heard now.
(3) Many cities and towns across this state rely on HUD funding to help meet their various budgetary needs. They include some of our largest cities and some of our smaller towns. For example, Newark and Jersey City each receive over $6 million in funding for housing, home ownership, and emergency shelter assistance. Smaller cities participate in a block grant to a small cities consortium. That is vulnerable, too. I know from seven years as Monitor of a Federal Housing Consent Decree that these programs can dramatically impact budgets for our cities and towns, and can mean the difference between providing affordable housing or having this need unmet for families across our state. In its efforts to cut programs to fund its tax policies, the new Administration poses a threat to this funding. I plan to meet with mayors and municipal officials across the state to raise awareness of this issue and work collectively with them to defend funding that is critical to their budgets.
(4) Throughout the campaign, the President-elect and his team have supported discredited policies, including the use of stop and frisk, in an effort to appear to be tough on crime. I have worked for more than two decades, in government and as a private citizen, to bring police and communities closer together and to make our criminal justice system fair and effective. My work on the New Jersey Advisory Committee on Police Standards helped make New Jersey a leader nationally on this issue. Over the last two years, I have worked with the state attorney general, the US Attorney, local police chiefs, and social justice leaders on needed, practical reforms to reduce crime and incarceration and to improve the relationship between police and the communities they serve. We need to step up these efforts, not roll them back.
As Governor, I will never waver in defense of the core values that make New Jersey and our country strong. If we commit to serve each other, and to work for the benefit of all the people of this state, then together we can find not just common ground but move to higher ground.