Queens Lawmakers On The Move Sept. 25, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Meeks Gives Update On Trump Immigration Policies

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks

U.S. Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, The Rockaways, JFK Airport) last Saturday gave the latest update of the Trump Administration’s current immigration policies at a Cambria Heights Town Hall coordinated in partnership with Haitian-American United for Progress (HAUP), an organization that serves the local Haitian community in Queens and Nassau County.

The Congressman provided an update on several immigration developments, including the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programs set to expire this coming January, the Public Charge rule, family separation and multi-pronged attacks on asylum seekers.

“There is no question that this administration is trying to make immigration, legal or otherwise, as painful as possible for immigrants of color. Whether it is denying TPS, separating families, or using raids to spread fear and terror, President Trump’s racist agenda is a threat to our community and neighbors,” said Meeks.

“Though Democrats have responded to every attack on immigration with legislation, Senator McConnell and the threat of a veto pen have made the Senate a legislative graveyard. Thankfully, we’ve succeeded in challenging many of these policies in the courts. I recently joined New York State Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against the administration’s Public Charge rule, which seeks to deny immigrants green cards and visas, just for using services they’re legally entitled to. No family should have to feel intimidated from using services to help feed their child or get medical help,” Meeks added.

During the event, Haitian-American United for Progress shared a report of their visit to the ICE Adelanto Detention Facility in California. HAUP, relayed to the crowd the “inhumane” conditions faced by detainees in the facility. Additionally, they noted the large influx of Haitian immigrants currently in limbo in Mexican cities such as Tijuana, who have been denied asylum in the U.S. 

Meng Supports Impeachment Inquiry Into Trump

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 expressed strong support for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement of the beginning of a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

“The American people deserve the truth, and the President deserves the consequences of his actions. President Trump pressured a foreign government to investigate his domestic political rival. I believe this is yet another impeachable offense,” said Meng.

“President Trump betrayed his oath to the American people. The President cannot be trusted and he will continue to undermine our democracy and risk our national security. I called for impeachment proceedings in July after fully considering Mueller’s findings, and am pleased the House is moving forward.”

Addabbo Introduces Legislation Dealing With National Grid’s Gas Moratorium

State Senator 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) yesterday announced he introduced legislation (S.6730) to ensure residents are able to access service from gas and electric utilities that may have a monopoly on service in a community. 

A second bill (S.6731) would create a task force to study backup energy in New York where the provider is unable or unwilling to provide such service.

The proposed measures come as National Grid has embarked on a campaign claiming they are unable to provide utility service without access to a new pipeline. However, a pipeline exists in the area for decades and even if the pipeline were to be approved, it would take several years to come online and begin to supply service. Addabbo says that a utility company with a monopoly and refusing to provide essential service to a resident or business must be held accountable.

“National Grid is denying gas service to many of my constituents, mainly because of the state’s opposition, including mine, to the proposed Williams pipeline,” Addabbo said. “My first concern is and always has been, for the people who I represent and in this instance, those who are still trying to return to their homes more than six years after Superstorm Sandy or attempting to open a new business. National Grid’s moratorium on gas service to new and existing homes and businesses is completely unnecessary and unacceptable.” 

“I have long opposed fracking and the process of hydraulic fracturing of gas, which I believe to be dangerous and to have a negative impact on our environment. I know there’s a need for different sources of energy, but I do not believe spending approximately $1 billion on a pipeline that would be obsolete in 10 years is the right direction for us to take,” said Addabbo.

Ocasio-Cortez leads Oversight Push Against Wall Street Corruption In Puerto Rico

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D- Astoria, College Point, Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside, Eastern Bronx) and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), following the two-year anniversary of Hurricane María’s devastating landfall on Puerto Rico, led more than a dozen lawmakers in a call to reverse the crippling austerity imposed on Puerto Rico; end the priority given to the demands of Wall Street vulture funds over of the needs of the Puerto Rican people; and put a moratorium on any payments on Puerto Rican debt until an independent investigation is completed to root out corruption.  

In a letter to the Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB), the members of Congress condemned the board’s insistence on slashing public health, education, and pensions, including hundreds of millions of dollars in proposed cuts to Medicaid and the University of Puerto Rico. They noted that the unprecedented protests of recent weeks “called not only for the resignation of Governor Rosselló but for the end of the Financial Oversight and Management Board’s control over the economic decisions of the island.” Puerto Rico has already suffered a lost decade of no economic growth, and fresh austerity is expected to deepen the crisis and spur further outmigration.  

“Puerto Rico must not be treated like a colony anymore,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “A just recovery process means we have to call out the crippling effects of austerity that la junta has imposed and demand transparency from those making these decisions. Puertorriqueños will continue to die in the face of a severe health crisis and others are using blue tarps as roofs two years after María. We must hold la junta accountable—otherwise Wall Street vultures will continue to be prioritized over the needs of the people.”

AG James Supports City’s Retirement Security for All Plan

State Attorney General Letitia James

New York State Attorney General Letitia James yesterday expressed her full support of the legislative proposal to enable New Yorkers in the private sector to automatically enroll in an employee-funded retirement plan.

In 2015, then-Public Advocate James led the charge for Universal Retirement Security, introducing legislation to create a Board to issue recommendations for the creation of a private-sector retirement security plan. 

In 2017, she authored, along with City Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), the bills currently under consideration, which would cover all employers with more than 10 employees that did not already offer a retirement plan. At no cost to the employer, private sector employees would be automatically enrolled, with an option to decline, in a payroll deduction pre-tax retirement savings plan administered by the City.

“The looming retirement security crisis for middle-class and low-wage workers demands immediate and decisive action, but time and again Washington has failed to step up. In New York City, where a staggering 60 percent of private-sector workers today are without access to any form of a retirement plan, we simply cannot afford to wait any longer. I applaud Mayor de Blasio, as well as Council Members Miller and Kallos, for moving forward with a plan that would make New York City a national leader in the quest for Universal Retirement Security,” said James.

“As an original sponsor of this vitally important legislation, I wholeheartedly support this effort and urge the swift passage of these bills into law,” she added.