U.S. Reps. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn, Queens, Lower Manhattan), Yvette Clarke (D-Crown Heights, Flatbush, East Flatbush, Brownsville, Sheepshead Bay) and Joe Crowley (D-Queens, The Bronx)) Saturday all joined in the collective Democratic cry that President Trump’s recent immigration proposal is a ransom note.
Speaking at a press conference in lower Manhattan to protest the federal government’s apparent targeting of immigrants’ rights leaders, none of the lawmakers indicated that they would accept any of President Donald Trump‘s terms, nor are they willing compromise any current legal immigration policies in a deal that could lead up for a pathway to citizenship for about 1.8 million Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.
“I will remind the president that his mother was not born in this country. And nor were two of his three wives. The president needs to remember that he was a product of immigrants,” started Crowley. “I’ll know the deal when I see it. We have a responsibility as member of congress to protect the interests of this country, but we also have a responsibility to protect the interests of all immigrants.”
“The president manufactured this crisis with DACA and so he knows in order to really bring a solution we must com together, Republicans and Democrats, with a solution that is workable, otherwise I will vote against it,” said Velázquez.
“What Donald Trumps administration is proposing is nothing short of racist. This is all about who Donald Trump sees as being worthy of being an American. They are talking about chain migration, which is a code word for family fragmentation. We are not going to pay $28 billion for a wall that he claimed Mexico was going to build,” said Clarke. “Where is Paul Ryan? He is not just the Speaker of the Republicans. He is the Speaker of the House and we have the votes to pass a clean DREAM act right now. And it is up to him to make sure that is done.”
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn) joined her three colleagues as well as community leaders and immigration rights activists at the protest in front of 26 Federal Plaza, the local United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
“We are here to say to the department of homeland security, to ICE, and the president himself, we will not be intimidated. The immigrants that we are talking about today are leaders in their community. They bravely stood up to the administration’s hateful, cold-hearted policies. And as a result of their courage, five of them have seen reprisals in the form of detainment and even deportation. Our government is saying we will separate you from your family if you don’t sit down and shut up,” said Velázquez.
“We were told by President Trump that they would only target those who were criminals. People who were dangerous to their neighbors or harmful to the country and hurting the country. But he moved from doing that,” added Maloney.
Velázquez wrote a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson and acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas D. Homan requesting a meeting. It was signed by 30 Democratic house members and named four specific leaders:
- Ravi Ragbir, a green card holder for 12 years and Executive Director of the immigration reform group New Sanctuary Coalition, who is currently being detained.
- Jean Montrevil, co-founded the New Sanctuary Coalition with Ragbir and a father of four U.S. citizens, who was deported to Haiti on January 16th.
- Eliseo Jurado, the husband of the immigrant rights activist Ingrid Encalada Latorre, who was detained by ICE on January 11th while on his way to purchase groceries for his family.
- Maru Mora-Villalpando, who leads the Northwest Detention Center Resistance (NWDCR), a Tacoma immigrant advocacy organization who has been put in deportation proceedings.
“We stand with our neighbors. We stand with these leaders. You can try and intimidate some, but you will not silence all of us,” continued Velázquez.
They were joined by Ravi Ragbir’s wife, Amy Gottlieb, activist for the American Friends Service Committee, where she said that the U.S. should not be locking up people because of their status at all. She continued to detail the ways the she felt ICE continues to disrespect her and her husband’s humanity through this detention. “The impact of having my husband locked up in jail has been devastating. I cry every day,” she said.
Ragbir was arrested on January 11 during one of his regularly scheduled appointments and in during this short period of time, she has already paid upward of $250 in order to speak with him over the phone. “It is more traumatizing than I can ever say to have your husband taken away from you in handcuffs… Honestly, I feel like I’ve been a victim of state-sponsored crime,” she continued.
“We are standing in front of a building that has become the headquarters for the Gestapo of the United States of America, ” said Clarke.