Posted by on June 05, 2013 in Blog
By: Matt Haugen
Summer 2013 Intern
When New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg passed away on Monday, the national media lauded his legislative achievements, from banning smoking on airlines to raising the drinking age. However, what the octogenarian will be remembered for most in his hometown of Paterson may be the ties and openness he kept with the community he was raised in. While Lautenberg’s comments regarding the Dubai Ports World controversy are infamous, his legacy Arab Americans is a much deeper one.
New Jersey Democratic Party member Samer Khalaf recalls Senator Lautenberg as a friend of the Arab American community, especially when it came to the Senator’s work with immigration and refugees. Khalaf worked with Lautenberg several times and said the Senator was always at the forefront of civil rights issues. Very willing to listen to his constituents, Lautenberg was considered by Khalaf to be “a huge asset to the community” largely due to his openness and activity within the community.
While the Arab American community in New Jersey has lost a friend in the Senate, they will have a say in who will replace him come October as Governor Christie today announced plans for a special election to fill the seat vacated by Lautenberg.
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