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Each weekday morning, 19-year-old Eri Torres of Morristown, New Jersey, catches the 6:45 a.m. public bus to the County College of Morris.
Class begins promptly at 8 a.m. but her shuttle bus only operates every hour-and-a-half, so running late is not an option. If it doesn’t stop at all, she’s out of luck.
Torres has no option but the bus. She cannot drive herself to school because obtaining a driver’s license is not possible as an undocumented immigrant in New Jersey. Nor will her parents drive her. She rarely gets into a car with them.
Originally from Quimbaya, Colombia, the teenager and her parents have lived in the shadows since they arrived three years ago and overstayed their visas.
Their status means they cannot risk doing anything like driving without a license that might bring them to the attention of immigration authorities. Without a valid driver’s license, many drivers do not obtain insurance. Without insurance, they are breaking New Jersey law.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is known to target undocumented immigrants who have broken the law – even if the offenses are minor traffic violations and put them in deportation proceedings. In some reported cases police departments have worked with ICE to turn in offenders.
According to ICE data, the agency made nearly 159,000 arrests in fiscal year 2018, a 44 percent increase from fiscal year 2016.
About half of those arrests, 76,204, were the result of traffic offenses, charged or convicted, an 11 percent increase from the previous year.
On one occasion, Torres was being driven by her mother late one evening when they were signaled to pull over. Waving flashlights, a line of police were searching cars.
Her mother, behind the wheel, held her emotions steady. Torres, the family’s sole English-speaker, explained to the officer that her mother only had a driver’s license from Colombia, and showed it to him. He and three other officers inspected the car.
“You better get a New Jersey license,” the policeman told Torres’ mother finally. “Good luck.”
He let them off with a warning. Shaken, Torres’ mother cried inconsolably all the way home.
Since then, Torres seldom rides in the family car. If her mother or father is caught driving without a license, the thinking goes, at least she may be safe from deportation.
“It’s super scary,” Torres says of routine grocery runs and hospital visits where public transportation options are limited. “You feel like nothing.”
12 states and counting
If the New Jersey legislature changes requirements to obtain a driver’s license, the Torres family’s luck could change, as it has for hundreds of thousands more across the country.
To date, 2013 was the biggest year for the nation’s undocumented driving-age population. Eight states plus the District of Columbia passed legislation allowing residents to obtain a driver’s license or card, regardless of legal status. Two more states followed suit in 2015.
There are 12 today — each with its own set of restrictions. A grouping of them is across the American Southwest; a scattering along the Atlantic coast.
Following the 2018 elections, Maine and New York joined three other states, New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode Island, in which Democrats dominate all three branches of state government and as is often said, elections change things, in this case potentially for undocumented drivers.
Controlling the governorship, with majorities in the state senate and house, Democrats in at least two of those states are considering providing expanded access to driver’s licenses: New Jersey and neighboring New York.
If enacted, proposals in both states could impact more than 1.2 million driving-age undocumented immigrants who currently do not qualify, and who — like the Torres family — have scrupulously avoided run-ins with the police in their communities by always looking over their shoulders.
The new legislation would amount to more drivers on the road who are tested, insured, and licensed, creating safer roads, according to Erika Nava, policy analyst at the New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP).
“California has seen a decrease in hit-and-run accidents, so they’re not fleeing the scene as much now that they have a license,” Nava told VOA. “They don’t fear that ICE might get them, so there’s more accountability.”
In New Jersey, public opinion favors a change in legislation. Across party lines, registered and likely New Jersey voters support the proposed law by a nearly 2-1 margin — including 62 percent of registered Democrats and 47 percent of registered Republicans — according to a poll conducted by Clarity Campaign Labs.
Apart from safety concerns, those in favor have an economic argument. According to NJPP, annual insurance premium payments would increase by roughly $223 million a year as a result of increased coverage, while the state would collect $11.7 million in license fees, plus recurring fees.
New York state, if legislation were passed there, would collect an estimated $57 million annually in combined vehicle registration fee and tax revenue, according to a report from the Fiscal Policy Institute.
Similar proposals have been introduced elsewhere, including in Virginia, though it is unlikely to be approved by that state’s divided government.
Opponents everywhere say the measure sends the wrong message: that undocumented immigrants are welcome, when they are not.
In the Garden State, a near 20,000-signature petition circulated by Republican lawmakers labeled the proposed democratic legislation a “foolish quest to turn New Jersey into a sanctuary state.”
“As a legal citizen and taxpayer of [New Jersey], I oppose giving illegals driver’s licenses. I have to show six points of ID just to renew mine,” Derek Freyberger commented on the forum, adding: “just [because] they have a license doesn’t mean they will get insurance.”
“They have fundamentally broken the law and as such are criminals and should be treated as such,” New Jersey resident Linda Salmons wrote.
Others have expressed concern that non-English speakers might have difficulty reading road signs or that a relaxed identification process could lead to an increase in fraud.
Desire to do the right thing
Similar to laws in 12 other states, two license categories would exist under New Jersey’s proposed legislation: a limited, standard driver’s license — barring entry into federal buildings or boarding an airplane — and a federally compliant REAL ID license, which would require proof of lawful presence in the country.
Aside from New Jersey’s undocumented residents, the state’s homeless and formerly incarcerated population, along with low-income families and victims of domestic abuse — vulnerable residents who may lack access to certain documents — would benefit from a wider range of accepted forms of identification.
Lacking a driver’s license, “you’re walking a tightrope,” stuck on the fringes of society, said Jamal Brown, a once-homeless, once-incarcerated New Jersey resident and member of the nonprofit Camden Coalition’s Community Advisory Committee.
“They all know how to drive, and they all have the desire to do the right thing,” Brown said. (VOA)
By Prerana Agarwal Saxena
In all the wedding excitement, it's easy to overlook the impact a wedding has on the environment. While everyone is making their big fat Indian wedding dreams come true, they are also adding their carbon footprint and undue energy consumption. Modern couples are now looking for ways to have a wedding with a sustainably conscious mindset. It's become about incorporating less waste, locally sourced and seasonal food, natural materials over the use of plastic. Mindful wedding planning and decor includes the use of recycled paper and goods along with eco-friendly venue needs. Check out this quick guide to achieve a sustainably conscious wedding without compromising on luxury:
Choose locally sourced material to uplift artisans
Sustainable can be luxurious too, incorporate some native flavour into the decor and theme. With the use of locally sourced materials and local artisans coming into play, the wedding instantly becomes sustainable. Include the work of local vendors ensure minimal packaging requirements, thus saving on unnecessary plastic and lamination. It also decreases the need for transporting elements from other cities and hence lowers the carbon footprint. For instance, at one of our weddings, we made use of sand art for a setup in Jodhpur. This helped promote local work while also being environmentally friendly with zero wastage of other materials. In another instance from Rajasthan, the traditional glass-blown technique was used to build decor items while giving a cultural touch to the destination wedding.
Sustainable can be luxurious too, incorporate some native flavour into the decor and theme. | Photo by Jason Coudriet on Unsplash
Say yes to recycling
One should be mindful and avoid the use of plastic and other non-recyclable materials in decor wherever possible. It can be a small step such as making a conscious switch from plastic water bottles to copper jugs or glass bottles. Also use artificial floral decor thus minimising the wastage produced from real flowers. This recyclable decor is then donated to various NGOs, further ensuring sustainable use of resources. Such steps, however small they might be, keep the environment free from the release of any additional carbon footprint.
One should be mindful and avoid the use of plastic and other non-recyclable materials in decor wherever possible. | Photo by Ravin Rau on Unsplash
Go for zero-waste wedding decor
Make use of fabric as it enhances the elegance of the wedding while being sustainable. Include vibrant colours apt to the theme of the wedding and bring in bright sprightliness with breathable fabrics. Ensure to include LED lights for lighting. They can be incorporated as string lights or be used on passageways with innovative decor items. They also help conserve energy and bring in soulful energy for nighttime decor. Choose virtual invitations, keeping up with the digital times. Make a conscious choice of plated dinner menus rather than a buffet as they allow less wastage of food and ensure enough food for guests in attendance.
LEDs can be incorporated as string lights or be used on passageways with innovative decor items. | Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Include Sustainable Gifting
Gift sustainable wedding favours -- gifts that grow. Offering a plant or a succulent, is a great idea. One can also gift recycled organic fabrics and cutlery or zero-waste kitchen and bathroom essentials to use in their homes as some distinct gifting options.
Gift sustainable wedding favours -- gifts that grow. | Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash
Acting in the best interest of the environment and the society, Theme Weavers Designs has started a social cause, Weaving Hope, where a part of their earnings along with food and decor are donated to social communities. Royal Rendezvous, is an event started by us to put India on the Global Map, inviting international wedding planners to India to experience the rich culture and heritage, also employing and displaying the work of local artisans to this international audience.
By applying the values of sustainability, you can reduce the energy consumed and the resources used as much as possible. Go ahead and have a luxurious zero-waste wedding and navigate into the world of green living! (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Luxurious , Gift, sustainable, wedding favours, gifts that grow. Gifting, recycling, locally sourced, material. zero-waste
The Tamil Nadu health department has administered 16,43,879 lakh doses of vaccine in the second mega vaccination camp organised by it. The state public health department in a statement on Sunday said that this has taken the total vaccination to one crore since the beginning of September till date. The vaccination was administered from 7 a.m. till 7 p.m. and the compiled data was made available late at night.
The health department officials also said that as the state has almost exhausted its quota of vaccines, there would not be any vaccines on Monday. Regular vaccination will resume after the vaccine supplies arrive from New Delhi, officials said. The state health department had expected to vaccinate 15 lakh people on Sunday in 18,824 centres spread across primary health centres, anganwadis, noon meal centres, government hospitals, schools and some auditoriums.
The health department officials also said that as the state has almost exhausted its quota of vaccines, there would not be any vaccines on Monday. | Photo by Mat Napo on Unsplash
Of the 16,43,879 people who were inoculated, a total of 10,85,097 received their first dose and 5,58,782 their second dose of vaccine, the statement said, A total of 9,66,568 people in the age group of 18-44 were vaccinated on Sunday and vaccines were administered on 5,02,578 people aged between 45- 59 in the mega vaccine camps.
State health minister Ma Subramanian, who inaugurated the vaccination at Pollachi, also visited the centres in six districts -- Coimbatore, Erode, Namakkal, Tiruppur, Dharmapuri and Salem. The state government, according to the health minister, is to receive the next allotment of vaccines on September 21. Minister while speaking to IANS said, "We will be receiving the next allotment of vaccines on September 21 itself and we will resume vaccinations immediately. The state has already touched one crore vaccine-mark in the month of September till date." (IANS/MBI)
Keywords: COVID, vaccine, vaccination camp, Tamil Nadu, India, vaccinated, mega camp
Festivals are just around the corner and while you brainstorm about OOTDs (outfit of the day), don't forget the right makeup. Hanisha Kapoor, COO, ArchiesBeauty.com shares makeup trends experimented by these Bollywood divas throughout 2021 for inspiration. While some stuck to the classics, others mixed it up... take a look:
The Classic Red Lip
We don't see a future where classic red lips go out of fashion. The right way to achieve this celebrity look is to focus on accentuating your lips and keeping the rest of the face minimal. Give your lips a good scrub to plump them, moisturize and follow it up with a red lip liner to define the shape of your lips. Now go on with the perfect shade of red and finish your look with a slick of eyeliner, minimal concealer, and foundation.
We don't see a future where classic red lips go out of fashion. | Photo by Ina Garbé on Unsplash
No Makeup Look
Deepika Padukon is the perfect example of a no-makeup look. This natural beauty does a wonderful job of achieving the minimal soft look by softly cover any dark spots or blemishes and highlighting features she's most proud of. To achieve this start with concealer and use small dots to brighten your darker areas like under eye, corner of the nose or upper lip, and any visible spots, and set it up with loose powder. Apply a soft pink lipstick, light blush, and mascara.
Deepika Padukon is the perfect example of a no-makeup look | Wikimedia Commons
This look shouts pink. When it comes to rosy looks, Janhavi Kapoor does a phenomenal job. Everyone should try a rosy look once in a while. As we are focusing on only one shade, this look is pretty easy to achieve. Bring out your favourite pink lipstick, favourite pink blush, and a matching shade of eye shadow. Start with the base - concealer, and foundation and set it up with loose powder. Follow it up with eyeshadow, lipstick, and blush. Remember to draw a line by not using any pink mascara, eyeliner, or a bold shade of lipstick, as this is meant to be soft on the eyes.
When it comes to rosy looks, Janhavi Kapoor does a phenomenal job. | Wikimedia Commons
Glass Skin Makeup
The glass skin makeup is inspired by Korean skincare. This look is slightly complex with an equal focus on skin before makeup, so slather on those moisturizing serums and creams to prep your skin first. Start with a highlighting primer, keep your foundation and concealer minimal to avoid looking cakey. Follow it up with soft blush & nude lips and lots and lots of highlighter. Use the highlighter on the main points of your face, like upper cheekbones, the centre of the forehead, the tip of the nose, cupid bone, and chin. If you are feeling a bit extra, don't hesitate to put some on your shoulders and collar bones. This celebrity makeup look makes your skin glow without the need for a spotlight.
The glass skin makeup is inspired by Korean skincare. | Photo by 邱 严 on Unsplash
Pop It Up
Put a zing to your party look with the pop of funky colour. This look is meant to get you in the mood of partying all night. This works with your eye makeup while keeping the rest of the face minimal. Start with the base - concealer, apply a bit extra on your eyelids to make the colour pop. Don't mind going the extra mile and colour blocking your eyes with complementary colours on eyelids and under the eye. Apply nude lipstick and a soft blush to balance your look.
This look is meant to get you in the mood of partying all night. | Pixabay
(Article originally published by N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Celebrity, makeup, Deepika, Jhanavi, Korean, Red Lipstick, Glass Makeup, Pop makeup