In the Shadow of Liberty: New Jersey Immigration

February 8, 2016

In a time of heated political rhetoric, NJ Spotlight has a unique opportunity for supporting in-depth coverage of a topic sorely in need of nuanced reporting: immigration.

Today, NJ Spotlight — in partnership with Montclair State University’s Center for Cooperative Media — will launch a $30,000 crowd-funding effort to tell the story of how nearly 2 million immigrants live in the country’s most diverse and densely-populated state. To raise the funds, they will be using Beacon, an online platform that helps journalists raise money to cover important stories, while empowering readers to fund the stories they want to read.

Since launching in September 2013, Beacon, a venture-backed startup based in Oakland, Calif., has helped rally support for journalism projects at major news brands and smaller-independent publications alike. In recent months, Beacon and its backers have thrown its influence behind a very specific initiative: improving the quality, depth and breadth of immigration reporting in this country.

Beacon is so committed to this effort that they are matching donations to immigration projects on a dollar-for-dollar basis. NJ Spotlight’s project would be the ONLY New Jersey endeavor in Beacon’s national effort.

To receive any funds at all, NJ Spotlight must raise $30,000 within 30 days. We believe that is an achievable goal. But these first days will be crucial, as experts say individuals are more likely to contribute to a campaign when they see others are already supporting it.

Can you help set the stage for their success? Your donation will have the supersized-impact of a) a dollar-for-dollar match, b) persuading others to donate and c) making the statement: readers ARE willing to support quality journalism on subjects they care about.

Click here to back NJ Spotlight today.



Does New Jersey live up to Lady Liberty’s ideals?

New Jersey has historically opened itself to newcomers. After all, the Statue of Liberty stands on the New Jersey side of the harbor. With almost 2 million foreign-born residents, the only states with more immigrants per capita are California and New York.

Yet what makes New Jersey truly different is the diversity of our immigrant population.

Help us tell a different kind of immigration story

New Jersey’s immigration story doesn’t fit the stereotypes you’re probably familiar with: a large cohort of people crossing illegally into border states and upending the status quo.

In this state, immigrants come from everywhere. New Jersey is home to more than 300,000 South Americans, 300,000 from the Caribbean, 250,000 South Asians, 140,000 Eastern Europeans, 140,000 Central Americans, 125,000 Mexicans, 95,000 Africans, 90,000 Chinese — and that’s just for starters.

What your pledge creates

Immigration is 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?

When you back this project:

  • We will look at immigration issues from both inside and outside communities, through a unique partnership with the state’s ethnic press.
  • We’ll 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 to 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’ll discover how New Jersey’s foreign-born are coping with this changing climate. We will also take a close look at the impact these communities are having on New Jersey — whether it be education, jobs, housing, or the economy.

Most importantly, 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.

At bottom, we hope to provide the answers to two central questions: What’s it like to be an immigrant living in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty and is our state living up to her promise?

Who we are

NJ Spotlight is dedicated to original, thoughtful investigative reporting on complex issues. Working with the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State, which represents 150 different media partners from around New Jersey, we will tell the stories of these diverse immigrants and how they are changing what it means to become an American.

Every pledge will be matched dollar for dollar, thanks to Beacon!

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.

Click here to back NJ Spotlight today.