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In the Shadow of Liberty: NJ Spotlight’s Year-Long Study of Immigration in NJ

Help us crowdfund a multimedia assessment of the state’s culturally and politically diverse immigrant communities

statue of liberty

New Jersey is a state of many nations.

With almost 2 million foreign-born residents, New Jersey has more immigrants per capita than every other state except California and New York. And what makes us truly different is the diversity of our immigrant population — in that, we rank first in the country.

Today, NJ Spotlight launches a project looking at the state of immigration in New Jersey, and we are asking for your help.

With immigration arguably the hottest issue in the country right now, over the next year NJ Spotlight will explore how New Jersey’s immigrants are doing — what are measures of success and what are the outright barriers to progress? In a unique partnership with the state’s ethnic press, we will look at the issues from both inside and outside the communities.

But your support is critical. NJ Spotlight is paying for this project — its reporters, editors, and photographers — through a crowdfunding campaign that must raise $30,000 in the next month. Beacon, the online platform that funds journalism projects nationwide, will match what we raise dollar-for-dollar to help reach that goal.

We are not alone in what is an unprecedented project across the country. Beacon has enlisted notable media outlets in virtually every state to take a deep dive into immigration, from The Nation magazine’s look at the issue in the 2016 election, to The Hechinger Report’s examination of the immigrant experience in the classroom, to Texas Tribune’s firsthand look at the myths and realities of its Mexican border.

Beacon has committed $3 million overall. NJ Spotlight is its lone partner in New Jersey.

We will investigate the divisive political rhetoric that has increased fear and suspicion among newcomers and natives alike. While some cities are actively creating programs that will provide sanctuary for their immigrant populations, other locals have been vocal regarding their fears that immigrants bring with them security risks and possible drains on the safety net.

We will tell these stories through words, pictures, and video, with the storytellers both award-winning journalists and New Jersey’s immigrants themselves.

We’ll talk to these newcomers directly. Through our partnership with the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State, we will reach into these communities via ethnic media. These publications — targeted at New Jersey’s Arab, Brazilian, Chinese, Filipino, and Latino communities, among others — will give voice to their stories and experiences.

We need your support, so please donate to make this work possible.

Your support creates:

  • a series of in-depth reports that will take a look at these communities: their struggles, achievements, and the impact they are having in critical areas such as education, healthcare, jobs, and housing;

  • an investigation into the plight of the undocumented, including legislation and municipal policies and practices that affect their ability to live, work, and be educated in New Jersey;

  • an examination of how and why some communities gain political power while others still struggle;

  • personal stories, captured on video through ethnic media, that give the foreign-born a wide audience for their perspective as they wrestle with everyday obstacles and increasingly hostile political rhetoric;

  • in-depth data reporting that examines where different communities have settled — and why;

  • an assessment of how New Jersey’s bedroom communities are handling the influx of immigrants of color;

  • an engagement campaign that ignites a statewide conversation on immigration in New Jersey.

Again, it is only with your generous support that we can undertake this critical project.

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