Queens Lawmakers On The Move Feb. 18, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Meng Introduces Legislation To Remove Public Charge Reason For Deportation

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), a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, announced on Friday that she introduced the No Public Charge Deportation Act (H.R. 5814), which would remove public charge as grounds for the deportation of immigrants in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). 

Since the Trump administration published the new public charge rule in 2018, there are reports that this has led to chilling impacts on immigrant families participating in safety-net programs for fear of jeopardizing their immigration status. One in seven adults in immigrant families reported that they or a family member did not participate in a noncash benefit program (assistance with health care, housing, food, etc.) in 2018, out of fear of risking future green card status. 

This has also created a ripple effect. Even individuals who already have legal status, including permanent residents, are forgoing these benefits out of fear of risking the status of a relative. The Trump administration is weaponizing the public charge rule, which is essentially a “wealth test” to hurt families and limit them from accessing critical safety net programs.

“President Trump’s draconian immigration policies have caused vast harm to immigrants and their families,” said Meng. “From the Muslim travel ban to separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border to the public charge rule, this administration will do anything to block hard-working immigrants from achieving the American Dream. These policies are discriminatory, and the administration’s new public charge rule would force many families to choose between putting food on the table or keeping their legal status. The public charge rule is a wealth test that singles out the neediest families. It is a betrayal of our shared American values.”

“These are the reasons why I introduced the No Public Charge Deportation Act which would simply remove public charge as a reason for deportation. This necessary action is a step forward to change the perception that just because you are poor or need safety net programs to feed and house your family, it doesn’t make you less worthy of legally remaining in this great country,” Meng added.

Schumer Blasts Trump For Eliminating Dog-Sniffing Bomb Detection Teams 

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) on Sunday blasted President Trump’s proposed Fiscal Year 2021 federal budget for totally eliminating dog-sniffing bomb detection teams that are used across transit hubs like Penn Station, airports and more.

The counterterrorism tool also known as Visible Intermodal Prevent and Response (VIPR) teams are often utilized across the city in transit hubs, particularly when threat levels are up. New Yorkers have not only grown used to seeing dogs in places like Penn, airports, ferries, ports and special events, but they welcome their presence. 

Schumer is revealing, today, that the just-out budget crafted by the president and his team has quietly cut the VIPR dog teams from 31 to 0. Schumer announced a new fight to keep the public safety pack protecting us and made the case as to why the administration should reverse its decision immediately.

“It is unthinkable, especially with terror threats all the more common here, to think that the White House would even put a plan to rid New York and the nation of critical DHS and TSA canine VIPR teams, because those dogs do some of the most critical work, and often at a moment’s notice,” said Schumer. “I’m making it public that I’ve got a bone to pick with the White House over the total slashing of the VIPR counterterrorism teams and the way in which this was handled—without any input from experts or Congress. So, we will fight this cut, make the case, and hopefully keep this critical tool that is used by NYPD and others readily available.”

Meeks Introduces Harriet Tubman Bicentennial Commemorative Coin Act

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D- JamaicaLaureltonRosedaleCambria HeightsSaint AlbansSpringfield GardensThe RockawaysJFK Airport) announced on Friday the introduction of his Harriet Tubman Bicentennial Commemorative Coin Act, honoring the life and legacy of Harriet Tubman for this Black History Month which comes 200 years after her birth. 

“Harriet Tubman was a woman of incredible courage who remains a symbol of the strength and leadership in periods of overwhelming hardship. As a crucial conductor in the underground railroad, she created a beacon of hope for slaves who fled from the undignified cruelty of human bondage. In wartime, she tended to the wounded who fought the just war for emancipation,” said Meeks.

“Congress can and should honor her on the bicentennial of her birthday with this commemorative coin. I am proud to introduce this legislation and remind our nation the enormous gratitude we owe Harriet Tubman,” the lawmaker added.

Gianaris on Passing of Luke Gasparre

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven) last week mourned the passing of lifelong Astorian and civic activist Luke Gasparre.

“Luke Gasparre was a friend to everyone in Astoria. He shared his love of the Mets, public service, and his community with every person he encountered. We will all miss Luke’s warm presence and constant smile. As Luke’s State Senator, I was proud to induct him into the Senate Veterans Hall of Fame in 2016 and was even prouder to call him my friend.” said Gianaris.  

Luke Gasparre was a member of the United States Army who fought in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. He was a longtime employee of the United States Postal Service and among the longest-serving ushers in the history of the New York Mets organization. Gianaris inducted Gasparre into the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame in 2016.

For more information about Luke Gasparre from his 2016 induction in the Senate Veterans Hall of Fame, click here.