U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy, Brownsville, East New York, Canarsie, Mill Basin, Coney Island, South Ozone Park and Howard Beach in Queens) yesterday came to Brooklyn and made a strong argument for the importance of strengthening American infrastructure.
At the same time, he stressed the importance of continuing to make the United States a welcoming place for immigrants while at the same time expressing extreme displeasure with the Trump administration, especially on issues regarding national security and immigration laws.
Jeffries’s remarks came as the keynote speaker for the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s latest installation of the Brooklyn Newsmakers event series, held is in connection with NYU Tandon School of Engineering and is sponsored by Investors Bank.
“America is a first-class economy, but we don’t have a first-class infrastructure. We want to work on infrastructure and do it in a bipartisan way, and invest at least a trillion dollars over a five-year period of time. This will fix our crumbling infrastructure, and in the process create at least 16 million good-paying jobs.”
The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce is among the largest and most influential business advocacy organizations in New York, having spent the last hundred years developing and promoting policies that drive economic development and advance its members’ interests. The Chamber is the voice of Brooklyn’s business community, offering the resources, programs, tools and direct support businesses need to continue creating jobs and opportunities in their communities.
With regards to the crackdown on immigration by the current administration, Jeffries cited clear displeasure at the threat it had to diversity in America. As someone born and bred in Brooklyn, the Congressman was quick to point out the role Brooklyn’s rich diversity has played in its road to prosperity.
“Diversity as we know here in Brooklyn is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of immigrants, some voluntary, some involuntary but as Dr. King once said, ‘We may have come over on different ships, but we’re all in the same boat now,’” said Jeffries.
While addressing the important work carried out by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Jeffries underscored the importance of small businesses, referring to them as the “engines of our [US] economy.”
Regarding the current pressures faced by small businesses due to various market forces, and globalization, he argued that there needs to be a concerted effort on a national level to support small businesses.
“We have to make sure that our young people have the opportunity to participate in the jobs of the 21st-century economy. And make sure that their creativity can be brought to life so that they’re not just consumers but creators,” he said.
In the question-and-answer session after his speech, Jeffries touched on the latest developments in the Trump-Ukraine scandal and impeachment inquiry, the political and economic landscape in New York City, federal policies impacting Brooklyn’s business community.