2015-07-29 / Political Page

Crowley: Trump Scare Tactics Used To Pass Anti-Immigration Bill

Scolding the House Republican majority for passing an anti-immigration bill that would strip local governments, including New York City, of critical resources that support public safety and community policing, Congressman Joseph Crowley charged last week:

“The truth is, demonizing our country’s hardworking immigrants and using scare tactics á la Donald Trump, won’t fix our nation’s immigration system.

“And the truth is,” he charged, continuing his assault, “exploiting a tragedy just to further an anti-immigrant political agenda won’t fix our nation’s broken immigration system.”

Crowley, the high-ranking Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, then passed and took another path, stating, “Yes, there is absolutely an urgent, pressing need for immigration related legislation to come to the floor quickly – that bill is comprehensive immigration reform. And is it time Speaker Boehner and House Republicans finally end their games and join us in a real discussion on how to truly fix our immigration system.”

Crowley’s challenge to Boehner and the Republican majority would be to bring comprehensive immigration reform up for a vote in the House. The ball is in the GOP’s hands now.

Crowley (D–Queens/The Bronx) had said earlier in his presentation that, “for years, New York, like other cities across our nation, has chosen to work productively with our immigrant communities, and we know it has made our city stronger and safer. It’s clear that when Republicans push this damaging bill [the legislation they had passed], they are refusing to acknowledge the facts.”

MALONEY’S DATING VIOLENCE BILL TRIES NEW ANGLE: Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney states that according to the Department of Justice, more than 290,000 Americans are victims of rape and sexual assault each year, and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 consistently experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence.

Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) and congressional colleagues Suzanne Bonamici (OR) and Alma Adams (NC) say that the solution starts with teaching safe relationships.

Last week, the three like-minded lawmakers introduced the Teach Safe Relationships Act of 2015 (HR 3141), which would amend the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act to require “safe relationships behavior” as part of sex education. The legislation also authorizes grants to educate staff and administration and would require all grantees to develop a curriculum for young people that promotes safe relationship behavior. The Senate version of the legislation was introduced by Senators Tim Kaine and Claire McCaskill last February, they said.

Maloney stated: “Young women and men need to understand what relationship violence is, and where to turn when they have experienced abuse. Teaching safe relationships needs to be a part of sexual education curricula, and we should provide schools with the resources they need to reach every student. We need to teach students that help is available, and that violence in any form from the people you love is never acceptable.”

Bonamici said, “This bill represents an important step toward creating safer environments and safer relationships for young people. The recent increase in reports of sexual assault on our college campuses is troubling. This bill will begin teaching young people about healthy, safe relationships earlier. It will help them identify bad behavior and take action. Sexual assault and dating violence are serious issues that I am committed to working with schools, advocates, and students to prevent.”

Lastly, Congressmember Adams declared: “Far too many young people become victims of dating violence and sexual abuse. The Teach Safe Relationships Act is much needed legislation that would expose students to the damaging effects of sexual abuse and dating violence. By teaching our students the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships, we can help ensure young people can make more informed decisions that allow them to maintain healthier behaviors, free from abuse and violence.”

Maloney said the Teach Safe Relationships Act would amend the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act to enhance education and training programs by:

 Adding “safe relationship behavior” as a required form of sex education as defined by the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act.

 Assisting state and local educational agencies and institutions to meet the Title IX requirements of the Educational Amendments of 1972.

 Authorizing grants enabling secondary schools to educate staff and administration, and provide age-appropriate educational curricula for students regarding safe relationship behavior.

 Requiring that grantees develop and implement curricula for adolescents that incorporate elements of effective and evidence based programs that promote safe relationship behavior and prevent teen dating violence, sexual assault, and harassment.

 In addition to being age-appropriate the training and education programs must also be culturally and linguistically appropriate, reflecting the diverse circumstances and realities of young people.

CONSTANTINIDES’ PROPOSED ORGAN DONOR POLICY CONFIRMED: Councilman Costa Constantinides announced last week the confirmation of his proposal to encourage organ donation, by providing job protections for workers who choose to become living organ donors.

Constantinides, who aggressively pursued approval of his proposal, explained:

“We face a public health crisis – our state ranks in last place in registered organ donors. One way to mitigate this is to encourage more people to become living organ donors by ensuring that anyone can do so without the possibility of losing pay. I am proud that anyone who makes the sacrifice of organ donation will no longer have to choose between their job and giving life to someone in need. I thank the Department of Consumer Affairs for clarifying the law and for its partnership in addressing this important public health issue.”

Constantinides (D–Astoria) said the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), which would implement the donor policy under the Earned Sick Time Act, clarified its interpretation of the law to include organ donation after an official inquiry from Constantinides.

In a letter, DCA explained its conclusion that organ donation surgery is covered by the paid sick leave law, as paid sick leave can be used for elective surgeries. DCA updated their website’s “Frequently Asked Questions” to indicate that organ donations surgeries are covered by the law. (www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/about/paid-sickleave FAQs.page)

DCA Commissioner Julie Menin wrote to Constantinides: “Thank you for your leadership on this issue of organ donation. Not having access to an organ can place an individual’s life in grave danger. DCA is proud to enforce a paid sick leave law that, by allowing for the use of sick time for organ donation surgery, might encourage New Yorkers to consider donating organs to those in need.”

Constantinides noted the state’s “50th out of 50 states” ranking and added that, “Every 18 hours, someone in New York State dies waiting for an organ. Transplant recipients can wait years for an organ. For example, the average wait time across the nation for a kidney transplant is three years.

Constantinides said the news of his organ donation proposal acceptance was supported by LiveOnNY, the federally designated organ procurement organization in the metropolitan area. That organization’s president, Helen Irving, said, LiveOnNY applauds Councilmember Constantinides and DCA Commissioner Julie Menin for proactively moving to address the critical shortage of suitable organs for lifesaving transplants.”

Ms. Irving added: “New Yorkers support organ donation and these efforts will help inspire New Yorkers to take action by calling attention to the need for organ donation, and by protecting and supporting the generosity of living donors. These efforts are truly about life saving measures.”

CROWLEY SUPPORTS INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE EDUCATION IN US SCHOOLS: Acting to return international language study to curriculums in the nation’s elementary and secondary schools, Congressman Joseph Crowley joined with other colleagues recently to introduce the bipartisan World Language Advancement Act (WLAA).

Crowley, explained, “Since 2012, there has been no federal support for world language instruction in elementary and secondary schools. The World Language Advancement Act would fill in this gap and foster the language learning pipeline by providing competitive grants to states and local school districts to support the establishment, improvement, or expansion of innovative programs in language learning in grades K-12.”

Crowley joined with Congressmembers David Price (D–NC) and Republicans Leonard Lance (R–NJ) and Don Young (R–AK) in introducing the legislation.

Crowley (D–Queens/Bronx) noted, “With over 150 languages spoken in Queens, I’ve seen firsthand how language can be a gateway to cultural understanding. In addition to increasing our young people’s interest in other cultures, studies show that learning a foreign language greatly benefits students’ success in other core areas, such as math and critical thinking. We should do everything we can to prepare and equip the next generation of American workers with the skills needed to compete in the global economy, and that includes expanding opportunities to learn foreign languages.”

Crowley also said early language learning has been shown to strengthen performance across all academic subjects and on standardized tests. The benefits of foreign language education, he said, extend beyond academics, as students of foreign languages have an openness and acceptance to people who speak other languages and come from other cultures.

But, Crowley pointed out, only 25 percent of elementary schools in the United States offer any world language studies and only half of all American high school students take even one year of a world language.

Crowley said the legislation is supported by some of the leading international education and foreign language advocacy organizations, including the Joint National Committee for Languages – National Council for Languages and International Studies (JNCLNCLIS) and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).

Crowley related a statement by ACTFL President, Jacque Van Houten, “The ACTFL membership is excited to see this level of support for language education, particularly at a time when knowledge of other languages and cultures is a critical skill for all students in the United States.”

And JNCL-NCLIS Executive Director Bill Rivers stated: “This bipartisan bill demonstrates leadership and commitment to providing American children access to world class language programs. It will advance American education, helping to close achievement gaps and prepare American children for one of the linchpin skills of the 21st century knowledge economy.”

MENG: $220,000 GRANT FOR QUEENS COLLEGE: Queens College is getting a $220,000 federal grant to continue its Disability Student Support Services project that assists enrolled students with disabilities, Congresswoman Grace Meng announced.

“Queens College does an outstanding job preparing students for their futures,” said Meng (D–Flushing). “I am happy to deliver the great news about these important funds, and I’m pleased that the money will allow this critical program to continue. I look forward to many more Queens College students benefiting from the Disability Student Support Services project.”

Under the program, 100 low-income students with disabilities are provided with numerous support services to aid them with their studies, and help ensure that they graduate, Meng added.

Accepting the grant, Dr. Mirian Detres- Hickey, Director of the college’s Office of Special Services, stated, “We are extremely happy to be awarded this grant, and that this important program will be funded for another five years. We serve a great number of students who require supportive services, and these funds help a great deal. Our counselors work hard to support these students, and that shows in the increased number of graduates who have disabilities. I’m very proud and happy for our students and staff here at the Office of Special Services.”

SAFETY REVIEW FOLLOWS TRAIN-TRUCK COLLISION, NOLAN SAYS: Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D–Ridgewood) reports that the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Rail Road Administration (FRA) will launch a safety review of the recent train-truck collision in Glendale. Luckily, no one was injured.

“After the recent train-truck collision, this study is much needed for our community,” said Nolan.

“I am confident that this review by the FRA will help to improve safety standards,” Nolan added. “I will continue to monitor this important situation and working with my partners in government – city, state and federal – to make sure that Queens rails and roads are safe.”

MENG ALSO COMMENTS ON TRAIN-TRUCK CRASH: Also commenting on the July 8 collision of a New York and Atlantic Railway freight train and a tractortrailer in Maspeth, which will be the subject of a safety review by the Federal Railway Administration (FRA), Congresswoman Grace Meng stated:

“I thank the FRA for being responsive to the recent freight train collision in Maspeth and for moving swiftly in its quest to find answers. We spoke with FRA officials the day after the crash and in the days that followed, and I appreciate the agency moving quickly. I remain very disturbed that the accident was caused by the gate at the railroad crossing not coming down in time. As with the crash investigation, I will be kept up-to-date on this latest probe, and I look forward to its conclusion. As I have stated, the safety of train personnel, motorists and area residents cannot be compromised.”

JOBS STATS SHOW ‘STEADY AND SOLID GAINS’ SAYS MALONEY: Doing a quick study of this month’s “economic snapshots” revealed “steady and solid gains” in the jobs and earnings figures for New York, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said, adding quickly:

“But we know that not everyone who wants to work full time is able to find a job. The only thing that will move New York and our country toward full employment is investment – investment in infrastructure, in educa- tion and in research.”

The lawmaker completed her thought on an up note, however, saying, “We can and will do better.”

Then citing the monthly State-by-State Snapshots of leading economic indicators in the 50 states, which her Joint Economic Committee compiles each month, Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) pointed out:

“The State of New York added 24,200 private-sector jobs in June for a total gain of 152,500 over the past year, while unemployment was down 0.2 percentage point from May for an unemployment rate of 5.5 percent.”

Average hourly earnings in New York, adjusted for inflation, she said, “increased by just 0.3 percent in the part year to $28.42 an hour for private sector workers – and average New York weekly earnings for June were $957.75.”

And she noted, California gained the most private sector jobs for any state – with 25,700 – with New York State close behind, ranking fourth with 24,200 in that category, trailing California, Florida, and Texas.

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