2018-07-11 / Political Page

I On Politics

MOYA VISITS YONKERS FACILITY HOUSING IMMIGRANT CHILDREN: Council Member Francisco Moya and several elected officials toured, on July 3, Rising Ground, a facility in Yonkers that houses unaccompanied minors—including immigrant children separated from their families under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy.

“It’s difficult to manage the cognitive dissonance that comes from visiting an immigrant children’s facility on the eve of America’s Independence Day. The Fourth of July is a day when the nation celebrates freedom and the ideals that make it a beacon of hope for people around the world—like those who braved dangerous conditions to reach the border. These children and their families came here in search of the American Dream but instead discovered a decidedly (un)American story—one where immigrants and people of color are vilified and scapegoated. What is Independence Day for, if not to recognize the fortitude and perseverance these immigrants so clearly exemplified? These children deserve to be with their families, and their families deserve a pathway to citizenship.

“I am grateful to see the children at Rising Ground are being cared for by kind and compassionate people,” Council Member Moya said after the Tuesday morning tour, which Congress Member Eliot Engel, Assembly Members Ari Espinal and J. Gary Pretlow, NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, NYS Senators Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Shelley Mayer also attended.

“Rising Ground is staffed by compassionate people who are clearly caring for these children as best they can. There are a total of 95 children in Rising Ground’s custody. Of those children, fewer than 20 were sent there as a result of the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy. All of the children torn from their families at the border have either been put in contact with a family member or a sponsor. Each minor at Rising Ground is assigned to a child psychologist, clinician and caseworker, all of whom are bilingual. I want to thank them for their service and tenderness under such difficult and emotional conditions.

“There is, however, no quality of care that will silence my calls to reunite each and every child with the parent he or she was torn from under the unspeakably cruel zero-tolerance policy. The revelations over the past few weeks of images and audio from inside child immigration detention centers make disturbingly clear that these children don’t just need to be reunited with their families, they need to be rescued from the Trump administration.

‘CONTRADICTORY STORIES’ ON ADDING CITIZENSHIP QUESTION TO CENSUS: Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), and Judy Chu (D-CA), along with 53 of their colleagues, requested on June 28 that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross explain the contradictory and misleading statements he and other Trump administration staffers made regarding the decision to add a question on citizenship status to the 2020 Census.

In the letter the members ask the secretary to address the “glaring contradictions between administration testimonies and recently released internal communications…for the purpose of clarifying the origination, intention, and justification of adding a citizenship question to the census.”

This request was made in light of the supplemental memorandum the Secretary filed on June 21 in the case of States of New York et al. v. United States Department of Commerce et al. During a March 22 Ways and Means Committee hearing, Rep. Chu asked Ross about the process of adding the citizenship question to the census, whether it had been tested, and if cost had been factored in. Secretary Ross responded that the “Department of Justice, as you know, initiated the request for inclusion of the citizenship question.” But in the June 21 memo, Ross admitted that Commerce Department staff asked the Department of Justice to make the request.

Congress Member Maloney is co-chair of the House Census Caucus and author of the 2020 Census IDEA Act that would prevent last-minute additions like the citizenship question from being added to the census.

The full text of the letter can be found at www.maloney.house.gov/.

CREATE CULTURALLY APPROPRIATE SHELTERS FOR TRAFFICKING SURVIVORS: NYS Senator Martin Golden (SD 22), vice chair, Majority Conference, and Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi (AD 28), chair, Assembly Standing Committee on Social Services, with the support of multiple not-for-profit survivors’ advocacy groups, are calling on Governor Cuomo to sign into law S.8305/A.9566, a joint bill to establish “culturally competent” short-term safe house residential facilities and long-term safe house residential facilities and services operated by not-for-profit agencies for survivors of human trafficking. Specific services will include case management, health care, mental health counseling, drug addiction screening and treatment, language interpretation and translation services, English language instruction, job training and placement assistance, post-employment services for job retention, and services to assist the victims and their family members to establish permanent residency.

For many survivors of human trafficking, their most immediate and essential need is a safe, supportive place to stay. In New York State, some survivors turn to a network of temporary shelters to meet this need. Homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, and runaway and homeless youth shelters can all help, but only if the trafficking survivor meets each shelter system’s particular eligibility requirements. Because many trafficking survivors either may not meet these requirements or, even if they qualify, may not be able to find a vacant bed or unit, it’s clear that more shelter capacity tailored to meet the particular, culturally competent needs of trafficking survivors is necessary. It now falls upon Governor Cuomo to sign this legislation into law and protect countless survivors of human trafficking, explained Assembly Member Hevesi.

Golden and Hevesi joined by community leaders, not-for-profit survivors’ advocacy groups, and those affected by trafficking are holding a conference on the steps of City Hall announcing the legislation tomorrow, July 12 at 2:00 pm.

PERALTA ENDORSED BY 125K-MEMBER DC 37: NYS Senator Jose Peralta (DNY13) announced on July 6 his endorsement by DC 37, “the largest public service union in New York City, and their 125,000 members, including DC 37 Locals 1407, 372, and 957.”

Senator Peralta said, “I am privileged to have DC 37, who have made enormous contributions to our city, on my side as I look to ensure that working New Yorkers have the benefits and fair pay to afford a place to live, provide for their families, and save for retirement. These endorsements mean so much, not only because they have worked tirelessly on behalf of some of our state’s best workers, but because it reinforces the work I have done towards the issues that they are facing.” He said they truly represent the values of hard work that all Queens residents epitomize, adding that “The support of the thousands of members of DC 37 is integral to continue representing our district in our State Capitol.” He concluded, “This is about making lives better for all our fellow New Yorkers. I look forward to hearing more from you, my constituents, about what we need done to better the lives of every single member of our vibrant community. This fight can only be won together!”

He asked that his constituents sign up to volunteer and donate to his campaign (at Peralta4queens.com) to help him get reelected.

MENG, MALONEY PROMOTE MENSTRUAL EQUITY: Congress Members Grace Meng (D-NY) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) sent a letter on July 6 to House Speaker Paul Ryan requesting that he allow House offices to be reimbursed for feminine hygiene products purchased for Congressional staff and office visitors.

The lawmakers sent the letter in the wake of Maloney’s office being denied reimbursement for these products last week.

In their correspondence, Meng and Maloney also ask Ryan to provide free feminine hygiene products in all bathrooms that are under the jurisdiction of the US House of Representatives.

“Feminine hygiene products are a basic and essential need for women,” said Meng. “All women deserve access to them and that includes women who visit and work on Capitol Hill. It is time for the House to make these necessary items more accessible to women. I urge Speaker Ryan to do the right thing and I eagerly await his reply.”

“Speaker Ryan should make it clear that women who visit or work on Capitol Hill will have their needs met and that the House is a welcoming place for everyone,” said Maloney. “Women have been treated as second class citizens for far too long. We have an opportunity to fix that problem here in the House, and the speaker should take it.”

In addition to the letter, Meng is presently sponsoring the Menstrual Equity for All Act (H.R. 972) which contains five provisions to help different populations of women and girls get better access feminine hygiene products, and she is the author of Menstrual Products Right to Know Act (H.R. 2416) which aims to make menstrual hygiene products safer by requiring manufactures to disclose the ingredients of these products. The Congresswoman also convinced FEMA to add feminine hygiene products to the list of items that homeless assistance providers can purchase with federal grant funds, and due to her efforts, the Federal Bureau of Prisons agreed to provide female inmates with menstrual products free of charge.

ON TRUMP’S NOMINATION OF KAVANAUGH TO SUPREME COURT: NYS Senators Michael Gianaris and Jose Peralta issued the following statements following President Trump’s announcement of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee to the US Supreme Court.

Sen. Gianaris: “Brett Kavanaugh’s backwards thinking and irresponsible decisions on a host of issues—from a woman’s right to choose, to gun control, to immigration, to the environment— make clear that he would be a dangerous addition to the Supreme Court. His nomination must be defeated.”

Sen. Peralta: “With a self-imposed reality TV-like deadline, President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is nothing but an attempt to bring us back in time and reverse all the progress we have made in the last decades. Judge Kavanaugh’s past actions on the bench have shown he is more than ready to repeal Roe v. Wade and restrict access to contraception. Here in New York, it is crucial that we codify Roe v. Wade and protect a woman’s right to choose, as well as access to safe and affordable contraception. This is why I am calling for a special session in Albany to ensure we do just that. In addition, I want to thank Governor Andrew Cuomo for signing an executive order to protect abortion rights. It’s a good step, but we need a special session to guarantee women’s rights in New York.”

CITY PLANNING COMMISSION VOTES ON 82ND STREET REZONING PLAN: Catalina Cruz, Democrat for State Assembly (39th District), released the statement below following the City Planning Commission’s vote on July 9 on the proposed rezoning plan for the Shoppes on 82nd Street in Elmhurst-Jackson Heights.

“The safety of our community is paramount. I am immensely disappointed in the City Planning Commission’s vote to allow this proposal to move forward despite the groundswell of opposition by the community board, local residents, small business owners, and medical professionals. The EMT union, which represents the ambulance drivers working at Elmhurst Hospital, has publicly stated that this development will be an obstruction to their ability to save lives. We will not stop fighting to protect our community. We are calling on Council Member Francisco Moya to force the developer to redesign the proposal so that ambulances will not be blocked and lives are not endangered.”

For months, Cruz has been outspoken in her opposition to the proposal. In March, she led a coalition of Elmhurst-Jackson Heights residents at a press conference to urge Queens Community Board 4 to vote down the rezoning. Most recently, she co-organized a rally with Queens Neighborhoods United in front of the Elmhurst Hospital Ambulance Dispatch Bay to highlight the public safety hazards of the project, including the blockage of ambulances and emergency vehicle access to the hospital.

Cruz is a DREAMer running for the New York State Assembly (39) to represent the neighborhoods of Corona, Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. She is an experienced attorney and a leader for immigration reform and workers’ rights. She most recently served as the chief of staff for the City Council finance chair. Catalina has worked to help pass key legislation protecting workers, women, and business owners. She has previously served as the director of Governor Cuomo’s Exploited Workers Task Force, helping New York become a national leader in the fight against worker exploitation. She began her career as a housing attorney and currently serves as the president of the Latino Lawyers Association of Queens County.

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