2010-05-05 / Political Page

Anti-Immigration Law Denounced

Officials in New York City, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, attacked the controversial immigration law, denouncing it as anti-American and blaming it on Washington’s failure to pass a national solution to deal with the issue.

Bloomberg, warning that the United States is “committing national suicide” by Washington’s failure to impose a national solution, called on President [Barack] Obama to lead the way on immigration and that he would support him “100 percent”.

A longtime supporter of legalized immigration, Bloomberg charged the present lack of a legalized system hurts New York City by discouraging highly skilled immigrants from coming here, where their talents could help boost the city’s economy.

Last Friday, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D–Manhattan) led a rally of immigration advocates in which Comptroller John Liu, other councilmembers and the New York Immigration Coalition attended and denounced the Arizona law, which permits law enforcement officials to stop and question anyone they suspect might be here illegally, making undocumented status a crime.

Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, at podium, together with Chung Wha- Hong, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, Immigration Chair, Councilmembers Daniel Dromm, Melissa Mark- Viverito, Ydanis Rodriguez and a number of immigration and civil rights advocates, gathered to denounce Arizona’s Law SB1070. Photo William Alatriste New York City Council Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, at podium, together with Chung Wha- Hong, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, Immigration Chair, Councilmembers Daniel Dromm, Melissa Mark- Viverito, Ydanis Rodriguez and a number of immigration and civil rights advocates, gathered to denounce Arizona’s Law SB1070. Photo William Alatriste New York City Council Councilmember Daniel Dromm (D–Jackson Heights), chair of the Immigration Committee, announced passage of a resolution calling for the Congress and Obama to sponsor a comprehensive immigration law.

“The lack of a sensible and comprehensive immigration policy at the federal level has served to embolden radical approaches such as the Arizona law, which seeks to legalize discrimination,” Dromm said.

Dromm, whose district has one of the highest immigrant populations in the city, added: “What immigrants want is what all New Yorkers want; the right to pursue happiness and freedom.”

Meanwhile, state Senator Jose Peralta (D–Jackson Heights), whose district includes Dromm’s council district, called on Republican gubernatorial candidates Rick Lazio and Steve Levy to sign his pledge stating they will never “push for or sign” an immigration law similar to the Arizona statute.

At this point, neither Lazio nor Levy has issued a statement regarding the Arizona law, leaving open the possibility, according to Peralta, that they might actually support the Arizona law and might try to pass a similar law if either became governor.

Peralta declared that the Arizona law “strikes a blow against freedom and liberty, not just for immigrants, but for all the people of the United States”.

ULRICH, HALLORAN ENDORSE LAZIO: Two Republican councilmembers from Queens Eric Ulrich (R–Ozone Park) and Dan Halloran (R–Whitestone), announced they have endorsed Lazio for governor.

Ulrich cited Lazio as “the only true conservative Republican running for governor” and said Levy, the county supervisor for Suffolk County, “has become a distraction from our shared goals of defeating Andrew Cuomo”.

Halloran cited Lazio as “a real Republican” and said Republicans “should unite behind Lazio, a true leader with a long record of fighting higher taxes”.

HALLORAN PLEDGES TRANSPARENCY ON GRANT $: Halloran, a freshman councilmember, pledged last week that he would post discretionary funds, also known as member items, on the NYC Open Government Portal Internet site, backing up a campaign promise he had made.

On the matter of member items, which are fiscal grants received by councilmembers that they then give to local organizations to benefit the lawmakers’ districts.

“As elected officials, we are entrusted with the public’s money. That trust is sacred to me and I am determined to keep it. I strongly believe that the taxpayers’ dollars should be made publicly available at all times. This initiative will give New Yorkers faith that their monies are well spent,” Halloran said.

Halloran, an attorney, added, “As a councilmember, I am committed to providing funding for local organizations that need it most and that give back to our community. Charities and local organizations are critical in these hard economic times. I will be proud of every dollar I allocate and will personally vouch for the organizations I assist with funding. And I will do in a way that is completely open and transparent at all times.”

The present policy followed for lawmakers at every level of government whether national, state or local is to not identify and/or publicize the organizations they give grants to. Some have said that by not disclosing this information they do not leave themselves open to demands from other local neighborhood groups for grants.

However, in recent years, it has become public knowledge that grants given out by lawmakers, some of them very large amounts, have gone to organizations that include family members of the lawmaker or close personal friends, associates of the lawmaker that are officials of the organization receiving the funds. In many of these cases, it turned out that the grant money was used by some of these relatives, close friends, or associates for personal use, which is illegal, and some have been prosecuted for it.

For these reasons, there has been strong agitation for the lawmakers to give public notice about what organizations receive these grants and whether officials of organizations receiving the public funds have any direct relationship with the lawmaker.

Quinn has started to take “substantial steps”, to use the wording of a Daily News editorial “toward opening the records of its $50 million annual slush fund to public view, while tightening controls on the money”.

As for the $50 million that goes to New York’s councilmembers, that’s penny ante stuff compared to the amounts of taxpayer money that goes out to Washington and Albany lawmakers. Remember, those individual choices that are made by a lawmaker do not have to be approved by the legislative body involved, in most cases.

Also, it should be pointed out, that the grants that have been made by lawmakers over the years have all been perfectly legal and have gone to totally legitimate organizations and community groups and were used for the purposes stated. As is always the case in matters of this sort, the lawmakers who played it straight and honestly have been tarnished by those who used the system for their own purposes and now everyone has to “pay the piper”.

FIGURES DON’T LIE, SAYS MALONEY: The latest figures on the national economy are in and they show a dramatic shift [for the better], Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan), chair of the powerful Joint Economic Committee, said.

Today’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product), the total spent on goods and services, show that the economy is growing at a solid pace. It is a dramatic shift from a year ago when the economy shrunk by 6.4 percent in the first quarter. The economy has now grown for three straight quarters–proof that policies matter. Prompt actions taken by Congress and the Administration, such as the Recovery Act, played a vital role in restoring the economy to growth.

“I am especially encouraged that consumer spending increased 3.6 percent. Consumers power our economy and are critical to a strong, sustained recovery. Americans want to see that an increase in GDP translates for them into a JOB”, Maloney said. “But we must be realistic about the challenge ahead of us. With 8.4 million jobs lost during the recession, it will take time before our economy fully recovers and all unemployed worker find jobs.”

WEINER’S BILL BANS ANIMAL CRUELTY VIDEOS: After the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a ban on videos showing the killing of animals because it was too broad, Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D–Queens/Brooklyn) co-sponsored legislation that will make it illegal to sell those videos, known as “crush videos” where an animal is literally intentionally crushed, burned, drowned or impaled.

“As anyone who has watched a video of me on YouTube can attest, I’m an ardent believer in free speech,” Weiner said. “The Supreme Court’s decision went too far,” according to the Forest Hills lawmaker. The court made it clear that Congress could pass a narrower law that still gave animals the protections they deserve. We’re taking that step today. Acts of animal cruelty are banned in every state.

PADAVAN SIGNS ‘PLEDGE FOR CHANGE NEW YORK’: State Senator Frank Padavan (R–C–Bellerose) announced he has signed the Pledge For Change New York, which calls upon elected officials in New York state to enact reforms to state ethics laws and budgetary processes and institute new measures aimed at increasing accountability and transparency.

Earlier this year, Padavan presented his “Blueprint for a Stronger New York”, which featured proposals that are included in the Pledge For Change New York. The latter pledge was created by good government groups including the Brennan Center for Justice, Citizens Union of the City of New York, Common Cause New York, the New York State League of Women Voters and the New York State Research Group (NYPIRG).

“The Pledge For Change New York provides a solid framework which we should build upon. There is much more we can do to eliminate pay-to-play, influence peddling and bring about sound and responsible fiscal and government reform to New York,” Padavan said. “With New York at the crossroads, we must build a stronger foundation, a foundation of real reform that tackles our challenges head on and instills accountability and transparency to the workings of New York government.”

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