Tag: Chuck Schumer

JHISN Newsletter 12/04/2021

Dear friends,

Welcome to our new readers who have signed up to receive the newsletter! Some of you may have seen us recently handing out our newsletter flyer on 37th Avenue and at the Farmers Market – we are excited to now have over 525 newsletter subscribers. Please feel free to share our subscriber link with friends, co-workers, local activists, neighbors, and family: https://jhimmigrantsolidarity.org/news/

 This week’s feature article takes a look at the latest news on national immigration legislation. The news is not good. But the more political awareness we can build around what is happening, and the more solidarity we can offer in the struggle for collective security and a permanent home for undocumented immigrants—the closer we will get to that deferred promise of “… justice for all.”          

Senate must reinstate a pathway to citizenship in Build Back Better bill

People who try to frame this as a win for the community need to work closer with undocumented immigrants… there’s clearly mass disappointment and confusion, and a sense of betrayal.”  –Manuel Castro,  NICE Executive Director

While the New York City Council will soon vote on making this city the largest US municipality allowing non-citizens to vote in local elections, the US Congress is offering us nothing more in immigration law than the halfhearted options they have already debated for decades. In mid-November, instead of providing a permanent road to citizenship as promised by Democrats, the House of Representatives included a proposal called “immigrant parole” in the Build Back Better bill. This parole allows a limited population of immigrants legal status and work permits for five years, with the possibility of a five-year extension. The Senate still has the option to include a more desirable option, changing the existing Green Card eligibility date (called Registry) from 1972 to 2010. This would create a pathway to citizenship because after five years a permanent resident can then apply to become a naturalized citizen. 

Over recent months, New York groups energetically mobilized to remind Democratic legislators of their promise to create a pathway to citizenship for 11 million people. There were 11 days of action by NICE, Movement for Justice in El Barrio protested outside Senator Gillibrand’s office, newspaper ads were published, and rallies took place at Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s Manhattan office and at his home. A four-day #NoSleepTilCitizenship sleep-out with Adhikaar in front of Schumer’s Brooklyn home kept the pressure on, demanding a pathway to citizenship be included in the final Build Back Better (BBB) reconciliation package. 

The House did not deliver that pathway on November 19. Not because of any true policy commitment that parole is actually the best solution; according to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, “It’s our best option for getting past the parliamentarian,” who had rejected more expansive immigration proposals, arguing they did not meet the budgetary rules. In response, the New York Immigration Coalition, Make the Road New York, NICE, and other groups led an 11-mile march from 110th street in Harlem to Grand Army Plaza to urge Senate Democrats to fulfill their campaign promise. Adhikaar retweeted the statement from South Asian Americans Leading Together that the Senate must reinstate the pathway to citizenship, not the temporary reprieve of parole and time-limited work permits. DRUM retweeted United We Dream’s call for a pathway to citizenship. 

Despite recent surveys showing over 55% of Republican voters support a pathway for citizenship and work permits and protections from deportation for those who have been here for over 20 years, not a single House Republican voted for Build Back Better. Elected Democrats spoke mostly about the need to do more. The first Dominican American to serve in the House of Representatives, Harlem’s Adriano Espaillat, noted that undocumented workers contribute significantly to our nation’s pandemic recovery and should not be left behind: “[W]e now urge our colleagues in the Senate to further this work by reinstating a pathway to citizenship for the millions of Dreamers, TPS holders, farmworkers, and essential workers who are counting on us to do the right thing.”

Make The Road NY and NICE thanked Espaillat, along with AOC and 10 other NYC Representatives, for signing a letter calling on Congress to fulfill its promise for immigration reform. The letter argues this “promise three decades in the making still hangs in the balance”; the signatories urge the Senate to refuse this temporary measure:

“Immigrants have sought relief from the precarity of jumping from one temporary status to another in the only country they can call home. Another temporary status would merely extend this precarity.“ – Letter to the Senate from 91 members of Congress (Nov 22, 2021)

Make The Road, NY posted a set of infographics showing how temporary parole and registry are very different, and reminding members to ignore scam offers to apply for either proposal since they are not yet laws. 

As JHISN member Rosalinda Martinez notes, “11 million people who are present now working ‘clandestinely’ are still not accepted as citizens, so as not to pay them benefits and cut their rights as Workers. Rather, they do not have the status of workers, at any moment they can detain and deport them as if they were disposable, like poisonous animals.“ Passing BBB with temporary parole reinforces the problematic good vs bad immigrant trope and merely postpones for many people the threat of deportation from now until some time in the very near future, possibly as soon as September 2031Neither parole nor registry are radical left policies, nor are they new to the immigration discussion. Registry was last used 35 years ago, by the first Make America Great Again administration of Ronald Reagan. Millions of people were given a path to citizenship, while many others were detained or deported, and the criminalization of undocumented people increased.

Those who support parole may believe most undocumented people don’t have much to fear under a Biden administration, especially if parole grants many the security to live and work safely in this country. However, millions of families and individuals will still face persecution from ICE and Border Patrol because even recent rules under the current president do not guarantee their security. As Lena Graber, senior staff attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center notes, Biden’s ”guidelines gave officers so much discretion that enforcement actions would not look much different from those during the Trump administration.”

Even a broadly popular program like DACA, which is still being litigated in the courts, could be eliminated by next year. And the Biden Administration, which declares its support for DACA, may be about to complicate the program: DHS took public comments from September to November about a proposed change to create multiple DACA application processes. One application includes work permission and one does not, which could lead to confusion, bad guidance, and a situation where someone discovers that they made the wrong application choice for their future needs.

AOC has noted that some national immigrant advocacy groups have actually hampered the negotiating process on BBB, resulting in parole replacing registry as the Democrats’ proposal in the spending bill. Many of these groups are not grounded in immigrant communities or do not have undocumented members in positions of power. By way of contrast,  NICE has made clear “Our members are ready to continue to fight for #citizenship4all! after a packed member meeting, we are recommitting ourselves to demand @SenateDems to ACT and include a #pathtocitizenship in #BuildBackBetter LET’S GO!” 

JHISN encourages our readership to join them…Let’s go!

WHAT CAN WE DO?

  • Join United We Dream’s campaign by texting PATHWAY to 877877 and tell Senators to add a real pathway to citizenship.
  • Join Movement for Justice in El Barrio, in East Harlem, by demanding that NY Senator Gillibrand fight for a pathway to citizenship in the Build Back Better bill. 
  • Join the Texas-based RAICES campaign to tell Senators to add a real pathway to citizenship (while also signing up to learn more about their refugee work).

In solidarity and with collective care,

Jackson Heights Immigrant Solidarity Network (JHISN)

Follow @JHSolidarity on Facebook and Twitter and share this newsletter with friends, families, neighbors, networks, and colleagues so they can subscribe and receive news from JHISN. 

 

JHISN Newsletter 03/20/2021

Dear friends,

As we count the days toward spring, it is Day 5 in the hunger strike launched by immigrant New Yorkers who are calling for billions to fund workers intentionally excluded from pandemic emergency and unemployment benefits. And it is Day 59 of a new administration that promised, but has not yet begun, a 100-day moratorium on deportations. Spring will come. Let’s join forces to see that urgent funding for excluded and essential workers also arrives. Let’s demand that an indefinite moratorium on deportations ushers in a season of immigrant justice and radical changes to a damaging, racist US immigration system. 

If you are receiving a stimulus check in the new round of pandemic relief and have the resources, please consider a direct donation to one of the six local immigrant groups that are part of JHISN’s Neighborhood Emergency! fundraising campaign.

Newsletter Highlights:

  1. Hunger strike launches to support Fund for Excluded Workers
  2. JHISN calls for a ‘Deportation Moratorium Now!’

1. ‘Fast for the Forgotten’: Hunger strikers demand NYS pandemic relief 

“Because of the pandemic, I’ve lost all my savings and all of my income. I am eight months behind on rent and unable to support my family …. The government doesn’t ask me for my status when it wants me to pay taxes, but it bars me from receiving help. Excluded workers have been through enough this year. We need support now.”  Rubiela Correa, hunger striker, Jackson Heights

Activists are calling on state leaders to provide billions of dollars in relief for undocumented workers who have yet to receive assistance as the pandemic enters its second year. They’re urging lawmakers to set $3.5 billion aside in the state’s budget for workers excluded from federal pandemic relief packages. And they say they won’t eat until it happens.

With an April 1 deadline to finalize New York’s budget for the coming year, the State Assembly is considering allocating just over $2 billion for excluded workers. This fund would be the first of its kind in the nation. But excluded workers say that while it’s a start, it’s not enough.

On March 16, immigrants launched their hunger strike on the steps of St. John the Divine and other spots around Manhattan and Westchester, in a coordinated effort to pressure state politicians. About 75 people have signed on to participate in the Fast for the Forgotten, including members of Make the Road New York and other immigrant rights groups with the #FundExcludedWorkers coalition. On March 19, more than a dozen state politicians joined the ongoing hunger strike in solidarity. The $3.5 billion they’re calling for would retroactively distribute money to workers for the past year of unemployment. According to the coalition, this amount would be comparable to what other unemployed workers have received during the crisis.

“Workers who have been laid off or furloughed through no fault of their own should get the same support that has helped keep other New Yorkers afloat—especially because excluded workers themselves pay taxes to make unemployment insurance possible for other workers,” said Bianca Guerrero, coordinator of the Fund Excluded Workers coalition. The lawmakers’ current proposal is welcome, she said, but it won’t give workers what they need.

New York’s wealthiest residents continue to make billions of dollars during the crisis, Guerrero noted, and the state should tax them more to raise the needed revenue for those who have been economically devastated during the pandemic. A survey by Make the Road last August found that 98% of unemployed undocumented workers hadn’t received any federal or state government assistance. The Fund Excluded Workers coalition estimates 500,000 undocumented workers have been left out of relief packages. This past week, major unions and labor organizations declared their support for increasing taxes on the ultra-wealthy in New York.

This isn’t the first time excluded workers are striking: Last summer, immigration activists in Madison Square Park fasted for 24 hours to bring visibility to the lack of assistance for excluded workers. In the fall, they formed a mock bread line outside Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office. And in December, activists unveiled a three-block-long scroll in Central Park to bring attention to the wealth gap exacerbated by the pandemic, with the state’s richest residents increasing their wealth by tens of billions of dollars while the poorest continue to go into debt.  

“This is not a game,” said Ana Ramirez, a hunger striker and member of New York Communities for Change. “Our lives and the lives of our families are on the line. We’re here for two days, for three days, for 10 days, for 100 days—until we are heard and treated with dignity.”

WHAT CAN WE DO?

  • Volunteer to support NYC hunger strikers. If you are an artist, educator, dancer, writer, musician or have other skills—you are needed! See Strike Volunteer Sign-up Form.  
  • If you are able to, donate to the Hunger Strike Support Fund to cover meal stipends for hunger strikers’ families, and to provide PPE and sleeping materials for onsite strikers. 
  • Follow the Fund Excluded Workers coalition and Make the Road New York on social media to stay up to date on the progress of the hunger strike.
  • Add your name to the petition to Governor Cuomo to establish a $3.5 billion relief fund for excluded workers.

2. Moratorium Now!

“All deportations and immigrant detentions must stop while the current immigration system is abolished and re-imagined.” —JHISN leaflet

The early days of the Biden administration demonstrate that the long-standing demand for a complete moratorium on immigration detentions and deportations is more urgent than ever. Since the election, right-wing anti-immigrant forces have mobilized to stop the new administration’s reform efforts. For their part, leading Democrats show signs of sliding back into an unprincipled “good immigrant vs. bad immigrant” approach to immigration legislation. Without a groundswell of support for a real moratorium, millions of undocumented immigrants will continue to be threatened by arrest and expulsion. JHISN joins the call for a Deportation Moratorium Now!

Biden started his term by proudly announcing a 100-day limited “pause” on many deportations and detentions. Within days, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued to stop the new policy. He succeeded, obtaining a temporary restraining order against the moratorium from a Trump-appointed U.S. District judge. This has now become an indefinite temporary injunction.

ICE has openly defied the enforcement policies and priorities Biden spelled out, and has actually accelerated deportations. For instance, in an act of racist child abuse, agents deported 22 Haitian children, including an infant, on February 8. This is exactly the kind of injustice Biden had pledged to stop. On February 18, ICE issued a memo affirming that its agents have wide powers of enforcement—in effect, undercutting Biden’s moratorium and the provisions of his proposed Citizenship Act.

News media are currently full of stories casting doubt on the new administration’s ability to carry out fundamental immigration reform at all. Biden now says he’s “flexible” on what legislation to fight for; his officials urge “patience.”

The obstacles are certainly daunting: the Immigration Tracking Project has found over 1,000 Trump-sponsored immigration policies that are now embedded in regulations and executive orders. At the southern border, large numbers of migrants hoping for consideration by the new administration pose logistical and political challenges for Biden. “As of Wednesday, more than 3,700 children were reportedly being detained in Customs and Border Protection temporary holding facilities…for longer than legally permitted—a record high” (N. Narea, Vox, 03/15/21)

Meanwhile, in a discouraging retreat from Biden’s broad immigration bill, Vox reports that some House Democrats are falling back on “piecemeal immigration reform.” The bills they have introduced “narrowly address immigrant populations perceived as sympathetic by members of both parties.” Passage of these bills, which is far from assured, would certainly help many farmworkers, TPS holders and Dreamers. But it would leave millions of other immigrants under continued threat of detention and deportation while reinforcing the toxic discourse of “worthy” vs. “unworthy” immigrants.

Responding to the current moment, immigrants are making their own voices heard:

Movimiento Cosecha, a national movement fighting for undocumented immigrants in the United States, has presented President Biden and Democrats with a deadline for action in protecting the undocumented community. The group has vowed to mobilize in D.C. on May 1st if Biden fails to provide permanent protection for the 11 million undocumented workers and families living in the states. —WGVU, 03/11/21

On March 14, Cosecha sponsored a rally in front of Democratic leader Chuck Schumer’s Park Slope home, protesting his “empty promises.” Later, they projected messages onto the triumphal arch at Grand Army Plaza, including “Schumer: Do Your Job.”

Immigrant justice groups including DRUM, Chhaya, Make the Road and the New York Immigration Coalition have been calling for a complete moratorium on deportations and detentions for years. JHISN has also made this a central demand. In our new moratorium leaflet, we call for abolishing and re-imagining the current immigration system, and replacing it with a system based on human rights, international law, and decriminalization. 

We recognize that transitioning to a just system will be difficult and complicated. It will require, among other things, a thorough purge of the white nationalists inside DHS. But it can be done, especially if Biden and the Democrats are sincere about a path to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented migrants. During the process of abolition and restructuring, however long it takes, there’s no excuse for continuing to criminalize, detain and deport more of our family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors. 

A symbolic or temporary moratorium is not enough. Along with other immigrant justice organizations, we demand a complete moratorium on deportations and immigrant detentions until there’s a system in place based on human rights for all immigrants.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

In solidarity and with collective care,

Jackson Heights Immigrant Solidarity Network

Follow @JHSolidarity on Facebook and Twitter and share this newsletter with friends, families, neighbors, networks, and colleagues so they can subscribe and receive news from JHISN.

 

 

Denise Romero versus Chuck Schumer

At JHISN’s Community Gathering on October 17, activist Denise (Lupita) Romero spoke about her recent confrontation with US Senator and Democratic Party Leader Chuck Schumer on the streets of Woodside, Queens. Some video of the encounter can be seen online:

During the street confrontation, Romero told Schumer that he wasn’t welcome in Queens. She said that, in spite of Schumer’s claims about supporting immigrant rights, he and his fellow Democrats were actually dividing immigrants: offering to help some, while putting a deportation target on the backs of many others. Speaking over Schumer as he wagged a finger in her face, Romero insisted that dividing immigrants this way undermines the struggle for rights and justice for all immigrants.

Romero, a “Dreamer” brought to the US as a small child, would possibly be eligible for permanent legal status if the “comprehensive immigration reform” legislation proposed by Schumer and Nancy Pelosi ever passed in Congress. (At least if she met a set of strict eligibility guidelines and conditions.) But, as Romero pointed out to Schumer, her own parents would be still be subject to deportation, along with millions of other immigrants. In addition, the Democrats’ “comprehensive immigration reform” bills include billions of dollars for tougher enforcement—more ICE and Border Patrol agents, more courts and more equipment, including drones and other advanced technology.

At the JHISN community gathering, Romero said that she understands why lots of US citizens are caught up in supporting the Democratic Party as a way of defeating Trump. But she argued passionately that, with the rights of millions of immigrants on the line, people should be demanding much more from their leaders than what Schumer, Pelosi, and other mainstream Democrats are offering.

JHISN received a range of feedback about Romero’s talk. Some attendees expressed discomfort with her anger, and felt defensive. Others worried that attacks on Democrats could help Trump get reelected. And still others were enthusiastic about the talk, which they found inspiring, challenging or energizing. If you weren’t there, check out the video of Denise Romero, and see for yourself.

For a recap of our community gathering, including photos and videos of the speakers’ presentations and musical performances, see our News story.