2010-08-18 / Political Page

Weiner Hails OK Of Major Immigration Law

Congressmember Anthony Weiner last weekend expressed high praise for a new law signed by President Barack Obama that will add $600 million to increase security along the U.S. southern border and set the stage for comprehensive immigration reform.

Weiner, the only New York member of the House Immigration Subcommittee, declared: “While the path towards comprehensive immigration reform may be long and complex, this law helps to secure our borders, focuses on excluding those that commit crimes, and seeks to eliminate visa fraud that reduces competition. It’s a good start.”

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D– New York) also jumped on the new law’s bandwagon, saying, “It will also strengthen our partnership with Mexico in targeting the gangs and criminal organizations that operate on both sides of our shared border.”

Weiner (D–Queens/Brooklyn) pointed out that the law will fund the hiring and training of 1,000 new Border Patrol agents; 250- Immigration & Customs Enforcement agents and 250 Customs and Border Patrol agents. All will operate along both ports of entry and the Mexico- U.S. border.

Nearly a third of the $600 million will be allocated to the Justice Department to increase cooperation between Homeland Security agencies and the F.B.I., the D.E.A. and the ATF to help bust drug and human trafficking rings.

Republicans approved the bill by unanimous consent, but still felt free to knock it after it was passed. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama said the Democrats were looking to grab favorable press notices from it rather than to “genuinely improve” the hazardous border situation.

Weiner retorted that besides increasing the number of U.S. border agents, it would also expand the country’s capacity to keep out those committing crimes while in this country unlawfully.

Funding for the law, Weiner explained, will come from significantly increased visa fees on applications filed by companies that attempt to hire 50 percent or more of their workers from abroad.

CROWLEY BATTLING FOR TOP PARTY JOB: Reports from Washington place six-term Congressmember Joseph Crowley in a tussle for the coveted party position of the powerful Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

Giving Crowley some competition for the high-ranking post is his longtime friend and colleague Congressmember Steve Israel from neighboring Long Island.

Both are described as “well connected in the Democratic hierarchy, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Crowley’s corner and the present DCCC Executive Director John Vogel as Israel’s counselor.

Crowley, from Elmhurst, currently serves as the DCCC vice chairman for finance, while Israel heads its recruitment drive.

But there are two factors which suggest a slight edge for Crowley:

•He has raised considerably more money so far in the 2010 election cycle—$7.3 million to Israel’s $1.6 million. Both trail Pelosi ($27 million) and Van Hollen ($9.4 million).

•Usually leadership posts are filled by the Democratic caucus, but the next DCCC chair will be chosen by Speaker Pelosi.

Crowley is also reported to be close to Van Hollen. These factors may be offset by Israel’s link to Vogel, who once served as Israel’s campaign finance director.

Crowley has always held party positions since coming into the Democratic Caucus 12 years ago. He is presently one of nine Chief Deputy Whips; he’s also a member of the influential Ways & Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy, and is also a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, two coveted assignments that usually go to members with more seniority.

At home in Queens, Crowley heads the Queens Democratic organization.

VALLONE REACTS TO JAIL

CHANGES: Changes in the city’s jail system, including the reopening of a jail in Downtown Brooklyn, a realignment of part of the Riker’s Island detention facilities and the moving of a jail barge in The Bronx were announced last week by Department of Corrections Commissioner Dora B. Schriro.

City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D– Astoria) said to the barge being brought closer to Queens left him “very disappointed”. Vallone and many others in Astoria have been very sensitive to jail changes for a long time, particularly at Riker’s Island, because it can be accessed only by busses running from Queens Plaza in Long Island City through Astoria and by cars.

Vallone declared, “I’m very disappointed that due to budget restraints, the city has decided to move away from borough-based jails, which in the long run would have saved money and been more environmentally efficient.

“The move to relocate the jail barge from The Bronx is especially troubling. It will further strain Northwest Queens, which already bears too many of the city’s burdens.”

A spokesman for the lawmaker explained that besides the bus and-car-limitations in getting to Riker’s, Astoria is the location of five power plants, a sewage treatment plant and La Guardia Airport. All have an impact on the quality of life in this part of Queens.

According to other sources, other changes are planned at Riker’s—several run down buildings there are planned to be demolished and replaced by a new, smaller structure.

Also in Queens, sources reported, a jail in Kew Gardens is to be reopened. The changes, expected to be completed by 2017, will add space for 16,500 inmates to the city’s prison population. That would be a decrease from the current daily 19,400. The daily inmate population has decreased from 21,400 to 14,000 between 1992 and now.

BEG PARDON: In this newspaper’s August 4 I On Politics column, we erred in reporting that former Mayor Edward Koch had endorsed Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi in his September 14 Democratic primary election against opposing candidate Joe Fox. Koch did not make any endorsement and our reporting it erroneously was not done to influence the contest’s outcome. Our apologies to candidate Fox.

AVELLA ENDORSED BY PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Citing Tony Avella’s “100 percent pro-choice” credentials, the Planned Parenthood of New York City Action Fund has endorsed Avella in his race against state Senator Frank Padavan in this year’s election in November.

Action Fund, the political arm of PPNYC, promised an aggressive campaign for Avella, the Democratic standard bearer, against the veteran incumbent. The endorsement announcement said Action Fund will be conducting grass roots activities using a phone bank and door-to-door canvassing to inform voters in the 11th State senate district about the “anti-woman, anti-choice stand” of Avella’s opponent, incumbent Republican state Senator Frank Padavan, and to educate the voters about Avella’s “100 percent pro-choice rating”.

Action Fund President and CEO Joan Malin noted that Avella, a former city councilmember, was known in the council “for his independence, tenacity and passionate advocacy”, and added that he had “pledged to use that same energy to advocate on behalf of reproductive rights and health” if elected.

As a councilmember, Malin said, Avella had voted to mandate making available emergency contraception at all NYC Health Department facilities; and was in favor of a law to ensure that all NYC hospitals provide contraception to rape victims.

The Action Fund release described Padavan (R–C, Bellerose) as “simply anti-choice” and “out of touch with his constituents”.

MEET THE CANDIDATES: As it usually does during any election season, the Bay Terrace Community Alliance has scheduled a Meet the Candidates Night on Tuesday, August 31 beginning at 7 p.m. at the Bay Terrace Jewish Center, 13-00 209th St., Bay Terrace.

All declared candidates have been invited, including those running for governor, state attorney general, state comptroller, U.S. Senate, members of Congress, state senate (16th District), and state Assembly (26th District). The latter two categories cover areas of Northeast Queens.

ENVIRONMENTALISTS ENDORSE ADDABBO: Citing state Senator Joseph Addabbo’s support of “sustainability and clean energy, not as luxuries, but as the way forward to a stronger, healthier New York”, the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) announced their endorsement of the Howard Beach lawmaker in the fall elections.

NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn added that Addabbo “is a proven fighter for clean air and water and a key ally to rebuild environmental leadership in Albany”.

Addabbo, who is being challenged by Anthony Como of Middle Village for the Ozone Park/Howard Beach seat, hailed NYLCV as “one of the most influential and effective” advocacy groups. He pledged to work with them “on our shared vision of a greener, cleaner New York”.

He stated, “Together we can make New York the leader in sustainable green energy and ensure that our parks and wildlife remain protected.”

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