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New Jersey’s state legislature passed a bill last month that will allow immigrants to get occupational licenses. It is among the most sweeping laws of its kind nationwide and would be the first on the East Coast to waive immigration restrictions on occupational licenses. Some states have passed industry-specific legislation to lift immigration restrictions, but this would be the first to do so across the board. According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are 14,000 immigrant healthcare workers who cannot get licenses because of their status. Dozens of labor groups signed a letter supporting the bill. It now awaits Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) signature. Gothamist
In other local immigration news…
Immigration Court in Newark Abruptly Closed
Newark’s immigration court was abruptly closed at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday with little warning to lawyers. One lawyer was advised by a staff member to leave so they wouldn’t catch COVID-19, according to Cesar Estela, chair of the New Jersey chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. The court remained closed on Friday. The Department of Justice provided no details on why the courts were closed, but AILA assumed someone at the court had contracted COVID-19 and that facilities were being sanitized. AILA-NJ sued the DOJ over its policy of requiring lawyers and litigants to appear in person during the pandemic. Law.com
Missing Girl Likely Abducted, FBI Says
Missing Bridgeton girl Dulce Alavez, 8, was likely abducted, the FBI said Sunday. Alvarez disappeared from a Bridgeton, New Jersey, park 11 months ago when she was out with her family. An Amber alert was issued and the FBI joined the search. The FBI now believes someone abducted the child and that she’s still alive, as they had combed the area and not found a body. In an interview with NJ Advance Media, investigators released a description of the suspect in the case. NJ Advance Media
Harris Channels Women With Caribbean Roots
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) officially accepted the Democratic party’s vice presidential nomination last week and could bring her Caribbean heritage to the White House come fall. New York’s Shirley Chisholm, whom Harris channeled during his own presidential run, was the first woman and the first black woman to seek the nomination for U.S. president in a major political party. She also had Caribbean roots, as her parents were from Barbados and Guyana. She was elected to New York state’s legislature in 1964 and 1968, became the first black woman in Congress. Harris’s Chief of Staff Karine Jean-Pierre also has a Caribbean heritage as she was born in Martinique to Haitian immigrant parents. She was raised in Queens. Carribbeat in NY Daily News
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