Friday Facts and Figures is a brief digital newsletter focusing on data points from NJPP reports, research, and policy debates in New Jersey and beyond.
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COVID-19 Cases: 168,496 | Deaths: 12,835
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
Thursday marked the 100 day anniversary of Governor Murphy’s stay at home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also represented 100 days without relief for hundreds of thousands of immigrant families across the state, as undocumented immigrants and mixed-status households have been excluded from all major state and federal pandemic relief efforts. Members of Make the Road New Jersey gathered on the State House steps yesterday to call for immediate relief, including one-time stimulus checks comparable to those in the CARES Act and a disaster relief fund for immigrants who are unemployed due to the pandemic. “It is critical that we do not leave our communities behind,” said State Senator Teresa Ruiz, who is sponsoring legislation to provide undocumented workers with a $1,000 relief check. [PIX 11 / Christie Duffy]
Undocumented workers in New Jersey have contributed $1.36 billion towards unemployment insurance over the last decade, according to a new report authored by NJPP Policy Analyst Vineeta Kapahi, yet they are excluded from receiving unemployment benefits if they lose their job. This is a prime example of how undocumented residents are excluded from relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused unprecedented job loss. In total, undocumented immigrants pay approximately $600 million every year in state and local taxes, helping fund safety net programs they cannot access. Watch this clip to see Vineeta break down the findings of her new report and outline ways state lawmakers can ensure no one is left behind in New Jersey’s pandemic recovery. [NJTV News / David Cruz]
By a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA. This is great news not only for New Jersey’s 16,000 DACA recipients, but also for the state as a whole, which has among the highest shares of immigrant residents in the nation. The protections in DACA are critical for DREAMers to pursue opportunities in higher education and professional training, providing them — and the state’s economy — with a strong foundation for the future. It is now up to state lawmakers to support immigrant communities by removing immigration-related barriers to leading a healthy life. Click the link to read how some DACA recipients from New Jersey reacted to the Supreme Court decision. [NJ.com / Kelly Heyboer and Sophie Nieto-Munoz]
The federal government’s COVID-19 relief not only excluded undocumented immigrants entirely, but it also failed to provide an easy pathway for many low-income families to receive their $1,200 stimulus check. Residents who did not file income tax returns for 2018 or 2019 or did not get Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Veterans Affairs, or Railroad Retirements payments are at risk of missing out on a stimulus payment that is rightfully theirs. As many as 276,000 New Jersey residents will not receive a check unless they file a request with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by October 15, according to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The report highlights that most of those in danger of missing their stimulus check are enrolled in state food assistance and health care programs, meaning they could be easily reached if the state quickly implements an outreach program. [NJ.com / Jonathan D. Salant and Karin Price Mueller]
Happy Juneteenth, a day to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. Earlier today, NJPP President Brandon McKoy stood alongside Black community leaders from across the state to call on Governor Murphy and the Legislature to end the War on Drugs. As Brandon explained in his remarks, which you can watch by clicking the link at the end of this post, Black New Jerseyans are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than white people, despite similar rates of use. And in 2016 alone, New Jersey invested at least $669 million in drug law enforcement, despite the racial inequities it fuels. [Salvation and Social Justice / Facebook Live]
Yesterday I moderated a discussion with NJPP’s Sheila Reynertson and Marc Pfeiffer of Rutgers University on the role of local government in New Jersey’s pandemic response. Click the link to watch a recording of the conversation, where we took a deep dive into the weeds of local finance and outlined some options for state and local lawmakers looking to avoid damaging cuts to public services. The program starts around the 4:20 minute mark. [NJPP / Facebook Live]
Pets of NJPP
Sasha Lee and Tucker “T” (which stands for his middle name, “Todd”) are Vineeta’s mother-in-law’s dogs. They are brother and sister. Tucker T tries very hard to be a good boy, but struggles. Sasha doesn’t worry about being a good girl because she knows it doesn’t matter — she’s too darn cute. Vineeta’s mother-in-law, Lorna, believes that Tucker is her biographer. Sasha doesn’t have a profession, but she can climb stairs, which she often reminds Tucker of any time he gets a chip on his shoulder. Through it all, Tucker and Sasha are best-of-friends and love one another very much. They can often be found cuddling on the couch or sunbathing together. When Sasha has been sick (she’s had two major back surgeries) Tucker is particularly gentle with her and careful not to steal her toys.
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