New York Officials Open Doors to Refugees as New Jersey Shuts Them
Unlike state and local officials in the Empire State, Gov. Christie is supporting the president's travel ban and formally ending the state refugee-resettlement program
In front of the Statue of Liberty sits New York, where local and state government are at the forefront of fighting President Donald Trump's efforts to restrict immigration of refugees and would-be political asylees.
Behind her back sits New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie is taking the opposite approach, supporting the president's travel ban and formally ending the state refugee-resettlement program.
Here's a rundown of the difference between the two states when it comes to the hot-button national issue of the moment:
New York: Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has become something of the face of the opposition against Trump in a variety of areas, including immigration. He joined a lawsuit against Trump's now heavily litigated executive order temporarily banning certain refugees, calling it discriminatory and a new low in American foreign policy. He also sent legal help to refugees stuck at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
New Jersey: Attorney General Chris Porrino is a friend and appointee of Christie's, and he has stayed mostly quiet about the situation even as attorneys general in the states across the northeast — New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, and Massachusetts — joined a lawsuit against Trump's travel ban now winding its way through the courts. Christie, a staunch ally of Trump's who has said he was offered jobs in the Trump administration, agrees with the president's travel ban. He has only criticized the rollout, which he blamed on Trump’s staffers.
New York: Immigration advocates say services for immigrants in New York have long been superior to those offered in New Jersey, from health coverage to language assistance to legal aid. And last month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched a hotline to assist immigrants affected by Trump's executive order.
New Jersey: As a presidential candidate in November 2015, Christie announced that New Jersey would no longer settle refugees from Syria, even 5-year-old orphans. By this past October, the state had fully "divested" from its refugee program, according to a spokeswoman. Refugees are still coming to New Jersey — including a Syrian family moving to Union City this week — but they are being resettled by a nonprofit agency, the International Rescue Committee. That means, for example, that refugees in New Jersey now go to the International Rescue Committee to collect allotted federal cash assistance, instead of state government. And a phone number that New Jersey once operated for refugees is no longer in service — an operator this week referred WNYC to the International Rescue Committee.
New York: The state maintains a robust website for its Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance to help refugees with "economic and social self-sufficiency." The site includes an educational curriculum to help teenage refugees find employment.
New Jersey: A spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services confirmed this week that all information helping refugees is being removed from its web site. While the landing page still exists; information for refugees on getting help with child care, homelessness, and welfare has been purged.
New York: In the wake of Trump's election to the presidency Cuomo ordered the New York State Police to create a special unit to investigate the growing number of hate crimes.
New Jersey: The state already has a Bias Crime Unit -- and efforts were announced to step up patrols of mosques after the Quebec mosque shooting last month — but a calendar of significant dates in which bias crimes may occur hasn't been updated in five years.
New York: If Trump cuts funding to so-called sanctuary cities like New York that are refusing to cooperate with federal immigration law enforcement officers, Mayor de Blasio said he'd go to court immediately to fight the president. He'd likely be backed up by Schneiderman and Cuomo.
New Jersey: Christie said he will be a "willing partner" with Trump on his efforts to crack down on sanctuary cities. That could have severe financial ramifications in many urban communities like Jersey City, whose mayor has signed his own executive order, declaring it a sanctuary city.