January 15, 2020

Council Gives Nod To Formal Resolution Supporting Migrant Families

By Anne Levin

A resolution related to the welfare of migrant families was the focus of a meeting of Princeton Council on Monday, January 13. The governing body voted unanimously to approve the measure, “calling upon the White House and Congress and the state of New Jersey to reunify migrant families, release them from detention, and afford them due process in immigration proceedings.”

Several members of the public spoke in favor of the measure, as did Councilwoman Leticia Fraga, who thanked resident Afsheen Shamsi for crafting the resolution. “It truly reflects our values and who we are when it comes to protecting our neighbors,” Fraga said.

One local resident who has accompanied migrants without legal representation to hearings — including an 8-year-old girl — said that while passage of the resolution is a positive step, a legal representation program is sorely needed. Shamsi commented that Princeton was among the first three towns to pass the resolution. She is delivering a “tool kit” to expand it on a national basis.

Others who spoke in favor of the resolution included Maria Juega, former executive director of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Tom Parker, chair of the town’s Civil Rights Commission; residents John Heilner and Linda Oppenheim; and immigration lawyer Sally Steinberg.

Also passed by Council was a resolution authorizing a lease agreement with Mercer County to reinstate a nutrition program for the elderly, moved from Princeton Senior Resource Center to the Chestnut Street Firehouse, which has been renovated for the purpose. The new location can accommodate up to 80 people, while the former site served up to 20 people. There is no income requirement to participate. Those concerned about parking limitations on Chestnut Street can park at PSRC and take the FreeB bus to the site.

Four ordinances held over from 2019 were introduced at the meeting. One creates permanent, paid firefighter positions in the Princeton Fire Department, which was previously staffed only by volunteers. Another is for a lease with the Friends of Herrontown Woods for care and maintenance of the Veblen property. Council
President David Cohen thanked those who worked on the project, including staff, volunteers, and botanist Steve Hiltner, who is president of the Friends of Herrontown Woods.

The other two ordinances introduced were related to salaries and compensation of municipal personnel, and the addition of alternate members to the Human Services Commission. All four ordinances will receive public hearings at the January 27 meeting of Council.