Queens Lawmakers On The Move June 25, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Meng Hosts Pelosi In Elmhurst For Immigration Discussion

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park) yesterday hosted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on a visit to Elmhurst for a conversation on immigration as part of her “Speaker in the House” series, which seeks to engage communities across the country and ensure that the voices of the American people are being heard in the halls of Congress.

Pelosi and Meng were joined by immigration activists, immigration advocacy organizations and other stakeholders from across Queens and New York City to discuss policies and legislation aimed at improving the U.S. immigration system. 

The program, which took place in the auditorium of Elmhurst Hospital Center, featured a discussion with audience members followed by a question and answer session. Panelists consisted of three immigration rights leaders including Steve Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition; Pabitra Khati Benjamin, Executive Director of Adhikaar; and Natalia Aristizabal, Co-Director of Organizing at Make the Road New York.

The event was held following the recent passage of the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) which seeks to establish permanent residency and a pathway to citizenship for millions of Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, and individuals covered by Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). The bill passed the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives on June 4 by a vote of 237 to 187. Meng, an original cosponsor of the legislation, voted in favor of the measure.

“It is a pleasure to join Congresswoman Grace Meng in New York for this important conversation about honoring our commitments to the immigrant communities who enrich and strengthen our nation each day, making America more American,” said Pelosi. 

“Our Democratic House is blessed by the outstanding leadership of Congresswoman Meng, and her persistent dedication to honoring our nation’s proud immigrant heritage and fighting back against the Administration’s discriminatory policies and callous attacks. House Democrats are proud to have passed H.R. 6, the Dream and Promise Act, to protect Dreamers and TPS and DED recipients, and are working relentlessly to build on that progress: calling on Senator  [Mitch] McConnell (R-KY) to pass H.R. 6, fighting the Administration’s discriminatory and undemocratic attacks on the Census and continuing to fight for a comprehensive fix for our broken immigration system.”

“Queens is the most diverse place in the nation with immigrants from across the globe calling our borough home,” said Meng. “Fixing our broken immigration system is vital to improving the lives and aspirations of the large immigrant population that resides here, and I cannot be more proud to welcome Speaker Pelosi to my district for a wide-ranging discussion on this critical subject, particularly as we hail this month’s passage of the American Dream and Promise Act. 

“I am also extremely pleased to be joined by the tireless and dedicated immigration advocates from our area who are on the front lines of this issue each and every day, and I thank them all for accepting my invitation to be part of this event.”

Gianaris Funds Queens-Based Immigration Rights Group That Helps Release Parents In ICE Custody 

State Senator Michael Gianaris

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven) announced yesterday a $20,000 allocation for Immigrant Families Together (IFT), a Queens-based nonprofit which provides bail for parents in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and reunites them with their children. 

“Immigrant Families Together does incredible work helping people seeking a better life, like generations of Americans before them,” said Gianaris. “I thank them for the work they have done helping families experiencing trauma and I am proud to support Immigrant Families Together.” 

Immigrant Families Together was founded in Long Island City last summer as a response to the Trump administration’s cruel zero tolerance policy. Thousands of donors and volunteers from around Queens, New York, and the entire country have since contributed to this people-powered effort to raise money and post bond for more than 70 adults who have been separated from children as a result of ICE detention. 

Addabbo Bill Prohibiting Sale of Whipped Cream Chargers to Minors Passes Senate

State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.

State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth, parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside, The Rockaways) announced yesterday that his legislation prohibiting the sale of whipped cream chargers, also known as ‘whippits, whippets, or whip-its’ to persons under the age of 21 passed the senate before the session ended this week.

“Nitrous oxide is a legal chemical for legitimate professional use but when used improperly, it can be extremely lethal,” said Addabbo. “Sadly, young people buy and inhale this gas to get ‘high’ because they mistakenly believe it is a ‘safe’ substance. We need to eliminate access to this dangerous substance for our youth.”

The legislation was drafted by Addabbo, following complaints from constituents in his district, who complained of empty containers littering their community. Whipped cream chargers are filled with nitrous oxide which is often referred to as ‘laughing gas’ and popularly used as an over-the-counter inhalant because of its euphoric effects. 

Under this legislation, an entity found in violation of selling whipped cream chargers to persons under 21 would be subject to a civil penalty of up to $250 for an initial offense and up to $500 for each subsequent offense.

After passing the Senate, the bill went to the Assembly Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee, but was not voted on before session ended. Addabbo intends to pursue the passage of the same bill next year.

Kim Thanks Sanders, Jaypal, Omar For INtroducing Plan to Fully Cancel Student Debt

Assemblymember Ron Kim

Assemblymember Ron Kim (D-Whitestone, Flushing, College Point, Murray Hill) yesterday thanked U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for officially announced their legislation to fully cancel the nation’s $1.6 trillion in student debt. 

As the first elected official from New York to call for a full cancellation of student debt, and also the first to introduce a state-by-state solution to writing down that debt, Kim issued the following statement:

“Last year, I announced a bold plan to cancel student debt in our state and country and, in doing so, tackle the issues of divisiveness, injustice, and inequality in America at their very root. My colleagues joined me for a rally at City Hall in support of this forward-thinking, progressive legislative agenda, and we called on all Congressional members and major political candidates to sign our pledge to fully cancel education debt. The announcement by Senator Sanders and Congressmembers Jayapal and Omar is a historic occasion, and demonstrates the increasing institutional and popular support behind this plan.

“I thank Senator Sanders, Congressmember Jayapl, and Congressmember Omar for committing to canceling America’s $1.6 trillion in student debt, and urge their colleagues to join them in this effort. Our broken higher education market must be fixed, and we must do all that we can to address the economic hardships and suffering of working-class New Yorkers before the next big financial catastrophe. Resetting and liberating tens of millions of Americans from student debt will have an impactful economic boost, and allow us to end our extractive financial systems while redesigning a more equitable and regenerative economy for all.”