A New Jersey County that Welcomes Immigrants

Plight of Mercer's undocumented immigrants focus of policy forum
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 7:15 AM EDT
By Lauren Otis, Staff Writer

   TRENTON — Mercer County’s embrace of immigrants into its community and workforce is more enlightened than other areas of the state, but much more needs to be done locally in the face of a lack of federal government oversight coupled with increasingly draconian enforcement measures targeting undocumented immigrants here.

   So said several participants in a panel discussion sponsored by New Jersey Policy Perspective in conjunction with the release of its report, “The Faces of Immigration in Mercer County.”

   ”We are creating a culture that pushes immigrants into the shadows of our communities then we are blaming immigrants for living in the shadows of our communities,” said Ryan Stark Lilienthal, a Princeton-based attorney who specializes in immigration.

   While a national vision has taken root which views immigration, particularly undocumented individuals, “not only as a problem but as a crisis,” a different attitude prevails in Mercer County, with immigrants welcomed: “They are something we look forward to as growing our county,” said Mr. Lilienthal, who is also a board member of the New Jersey Immigration Policy Network.