Unauthorized immigrants tell N.J. lawmakers they fear being deported

 Undocumented immigrants Giancarlo Tello and Daniela Velez testify at N.J. Assembly committee hearing (Photo by Phil Gregory)

Undocumented immigrants Giancarlo Tello and Daniela Velez testify at N.J. Assembly committee hearing (Photo by Phil Gregory)

New Jersey lawmakers are hearing the emotional impact President Trump’s toughened immigration proposals are having on those at risk of deportation.

Unauthorized immigrants told an Assembly committee in Trenton that those in the country illegally are afraid to go to work or send their kids to school because they’re worried immigration agents will track them down and deport them.

Twenty-three year-old Glassboro, N.J., resident Daniela Velez is an unauthorized immigrant. She came to New Jersey with her family from Venezuela 14 years ago.  She told an Assembly committee the president’s executive orders have put her life in turmoil. “I don’t know what sleep is. My anxiety and my depression it’s constantly there. I’m afraid that I’m going to wake up and my parents are going to be taken away from me. There’s a never-ending moment where I don’t think about what could happen,” she said

27-year old Giancarlo Tello is an unauthorized immigrant who lives in Burlington County. He came to New Jersey from Peru with his family in 1996.  He says the President’s immigration orders have him on edge. “I’ve actually been an immigration activist since 2010, so for almost seven years now, and this is the first week that I’ve gone to counseling and sought some mental health support or help,” he said.

Advocates urged lawmakers to make New jersey a sanctuary state for those in the country illegally, but Democratic Assemblyman Reed Gusciora doubts that’ll happen. “I don’t know how the whole state could be created legislatively as a sanctuary state and quite frankly whether the governor would even sign it or entertain it,” he said.

Gusciora said New Jersey state lawmakers could encourage Congress to act — or urge the President to rescind his executive order.

Democratic Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro questions the Trump administration’s immigration policies. “Just because you’re undocumented doesn’t mean you’re a criminal. We have teenagers, young men and women, killing each other in our streets. We all these crimes that are happening and we’re focusing on undocumented residents because they’re here. I doesn’t make any sense,” she said.

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