PARAMUS, NJ — Five months into his newly elected position as US representative in New Jersey’s fifth congressional district, Congressman Josh Gottheimer is opening his office to the Filipino community.
Gottheimer was former President Bill Clinton’s speech writer, who defeated republican incumbent Congressman Scott Garrett in the elections last November.
“I heard throughout the campaign, I spoke a lot to the people in the Filipino community,” said Gottheimer. “My door is open. The times are up and down right now, I want people to know that they can knock on my door, call my office, email me and find us for help.”
While immigration is a hot button issue in the Filipino community, plans for a comprehensive immigration reform seems to have lost their steam and are now in political limbo.
Damayan Migrant Workers Association believes that President Trump’s aggressive approach on immigration enforcement is pushing undocumented immigrants back into the shadows, living in fear.
“Kung dati kampante yung mga kababayan natin, ngayon lahat takot, whether may criminal record ka or wala,” said Riya Ortiz. “Matatakot yan, kasi nakikita nila nan a-e-embolden eh basically yung mga government officials na gumawa ng mga pang-aabuso kasi popotrektahan sila ni Trump.”
Congressman Gottheimer says he is open to learn more about the labor trafficking cases in the Filipino community.
“There are several pieces of legislation to deal with this issue,” he said. “What’s very important to me is to make sure that this piece of legislation is to pick the best path; I think we need to have hearings on this issue important to understand, what’s the best answer for our country especially here in NJ, where this is an issue.”
Congressman Gottheimer says unknown to many, Republicans and Democrats do get along in Congress.
He is the co-chair of Problem Solvers caucus composed of 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats.
“We sit down at tables like this one — every week I’m in Washington and look for places where we can get things done… We have to stand up against the things that are wrong, but also be open to finding progress where we can.”
Gottheimer says there may a great political divide across America – but there are members of Congress, like him, who are seeking for areas where they can make progress, by working across the aisle for the common good.