Queens Lawmakers on the Move April 13, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Moya, Johnson Demand Emergency Fund for Final Resting Arrangements

City Councilmember Francisco Moya

City Council Member Francisco Moya (D-East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona, LaGuardia Airport) and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) and Council this weekend called for the creation of an emergency fund for final resting arrangements for all New Yorkers. 

The call comes as the Human Resources Administration (HRA) program that the city currently has to help pay for death arrangements is not sufficient. To be eligible, both the deceased and the person applying must provide a social security number, which doesn’t take into account any undocumented immigrants.

“Nobody is immune to this disease but low-income New Yorkers, particularly undocumented immigrants, are the most vulnerable and disproportionately affected. One of the most devastating calls I’m regularly getting is from people who can’t afford to bury their loved ones and aren’t eligible for any assistance,” said Moya.

“That’s simply not acceptable —not when our mantra from the start has been ‘We’re all in this together.’ We must create an emergency fund to help all low-income New Yorkers, regardless of their immigration status, put their loved ones to rest,” h added.

Meeks & Tipton Ask Treasury to Issue Debit Cards for Stimulus Checks

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks

U.S. Reps. Gregory W. Meeks (D-Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, The Rockaways, JFK Airport) and Scott Tipton (R-CO) addressed a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asking the Treasury to consider issuing debit cards to Americans, creating low/no-cost bank accounts where they’d be able to immediately access funds such as stimulus checks. 

Though Treasury is expected to begin releasing stimulus checks this coming week, unbanked Americans and those who have not previously filed direct deposit with the IRS will face weeks or months of delays despite their urgent need of assistance.

“If implemented appropriately, tens of millions of Americans will receive support in the coming weeks to help address their critical needs while the U.S. economy is partially shut down. We remain deeply concerned, however, that the nearly 15 million Americans without bank accounts will face difficulty accessing these essential funds,” the lawmakers wrote, adding for those without direct deposit to bank accounts may have to wait up to 20 weeks for their checks.

“We propose that the Treasury Department give unbanked Americans the option and ability to receive their CARES Act funds directly into a newly-opened, no-cost or minimal-cost bank account that has a linked digital and/or physical card.  The Treasury Department could negotiate the inclusion of such a product with banks and companies that provide such cards and are willing to provide the service. By making this option available on Treasury’s web portal, people will be able to select how to receive their funds,” they wrote.

Dromm Statement on the Death of Anne Quashen

City Council Member Daniel Dromm

City Council Member Danie Dromm (D-East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) this weekend mourned the loss of LGBTQ Activist and President of the Queens Chapter of Parents, Families & Friends of LGBTQ People (PFLAG) Anne Quashen.

“I am deeply saddened by the death of Anne Quashen, the president of the Queens Chapter of PFLAG, an organization dedicated to supporting lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people,” said Dromm, chair of the council’s LGBT Caucus. “Anne dedicated 25 years of her life to providing emotional support and other resources to family members of LGBTQ people who chose to live their lives openly at a time when it was not popular to do so. She also helped many young people with their coming out process”

Dromm noted how Quashen held monthly PFLAG meetings at the Reform Temple of Forest Hills that welcomed all who needed them.  

“She was motivated by her own son Jeffrey who came out to her in the early 1990’s. Anne embraced her gay son at a time when it was common to hear about LGBTQ children being kicked out of the home or physically attacked for living their lives openly. Anne was a model LGBTQ activist, and she was like family to me. She will be sorely missed,” Dromm said.

Kim to Host Virtual Solidarity Town Hall Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Assemblymember Ron Kim

Assemblymembers Ron Kim (D-Whitestone, Flushing, College Point, Murray Hill) and Yuh-Line Niou (D-Manhattan) along with the State Assembly Asian Pacific American Task Force today will begin hosting regular virtual town halls to build solidarity between communities during the ongoing health crisis. 

They will be joined by Carlyn Cowen, Chief Policy and Public Affairs Officer at the Chinese-American Planning Council, Mateo Guerrero-Tavares, TGNCIQ Justice Lead Organizer at Make the Road NY and Carina Kaufman-Gutierrez, Deputy Director at the Street Vendor Project, who have been organizing and supporting informal sector immigrant workers during this crisis. 

Additionally, the event will touch on the larger theme of building solidarity between Asian American and Latinx American communities against discrimination, xenophobia and the sharp rise in hate crimes.

The first town hall is slated for 8 p.m., today, April 13 and it will address the need to support essential workers from immigrant communities who have had to continue working amid the COVID-19 pandemic. To access the video conference: bit.ly/apasolidarity. To dial in by phone: (512)402-2718 / PIN: 1203 6982 38. 

Meng Decries Trump for Latest Racist Attack Ad

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) on Friday, along with ASPIRE PAC, the political arm of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Members of Congress, responded to the racist rhetoric in President Donald Trump’s latest political attack ad. 

The ad falsely suggests that Gary Locke, former Governor of Washington and former U.S. Ambassador to China, is a Chinese official. Meng, the PAC’s current Chair, and Congresswoman Judy Chu, (D-CA) who launched ASPIRE PAC in 2011, denounced the racism and xenophobia featured in the ad. 

“This ad is a perfect example of the kind of dog-whistle racism we’ve come to expect from Donald Trump and lays bare the president’s worldview: being Asian means you’re not a ‘real American’ and makes you the enemy. Every day, President Trump makes it clearer that he cannot distinguish between those of us who are Chinese American and Chinese nationals. This is unacceptable, dangerous behavior from the President of the United States, and as the mother of two Chinese-Korean American sons, I have to call it out,” said Meng. 

“President Trump again is showing a complete lack of leadership and is giving rise to hatred at a time when hate crimes against Asian Americans are increasing. This ad shows the ignorance and lack of compassion that defines him and his administration,” she added.

Sanders to Host Virtual Small Business Training Series

State Sen. James Sanders Jr.

State Sen. Senator James Sanders Jr. (D-Rochdale Village, Far Rockaway) today will host the first in a series of virtual forums to help small business owners, who are experiencing industry disruptions unlike ever before due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Join Sanders, and a panel of experts featuring U.S. Congressman Gregory Meeks, Ron Busby, President, U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce and Gilda Cobb-Hunter, President, National Black Caucus of Black Legislators for the first of a series of disaster recovery trainings designed for small business owners who are ready or preparing to bounce back into the market and build for sustainability following COVID-19.

To first forum is slated for 4 p.m., today, April 13. To view online go to Facebook.com/SenatorJamesSandersJr/ or to listen by phone, call (606) 313-6073 and use the Access Code: 748994

Those who view online on Facebook Live can ask their questions in real-time by typing into the comment box. Those who are listening by phone will not be able to ask questions in real-time but can follow up with Senator Sanders’ Office afterward.