Queens Lawmakers on the Move July 17, 2020

Meng Immigration Amendment Passes Key House Committee

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—which has oversight of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) budget and policies—announced today that her amendment to rollover unused family-sponsored visas, employment-based visas, and diversity visas passed the House Appropriations Committee as part of the panel’s Homeland Security spending bill for fiscal year 2021.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allocates 480,000 visas annually for family-sponsored categories; 140,000 visas annually for employment-sponsored categories; and 55,000 for diversity visas. Due to COVID-19 and the curtailing of immigration operations both abroad at U.S. embassies and consulates, and at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), only a fraction of these visa allocations are being or will be used by the end of the current fiscal year.

“Congress did right by the diversity visa program,” Meng added. “It did right with the statutory framework in the INA on family-based and employment-sponsored green cards. And this is demonstrated by the rich diversity that Queens has with its people, food, and culture. We cannot allow the Trump administration to squash the dreams of immigrants.

Meng’s measure would allow unused fiscal year 2020 family-based, employment-based, and diversity visas to remain available in fiscal year 2021, and to allow unused fiscal year 2021 visas to remain available in fiscal year 2022.

Mayor Announces In-Person Childcare in Fall

Mayor Bill de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday that New York City is planning to provide quality, safe, free childcare options for 100,000 children this fall. 

“This pandemic has been hugely disruptive in the lives of our kids, which is why we are working to provide as much in person learning as possible. Working families are being pulled in many directions trying to make a plan for the fall, and we are going to help them every step of the way by providing free childcare options,” said Mayor de Blasio.

This follows the release of the Mayor and Chancellor’s preliminary school reopening plan, which utilizes a cohort-based blended learning system with both remote and in-person education for students. 

The city’s childcare options will provide relief for families who cannot stay home or find alternate care for their children on days they are not in school buildings. Childcare will be made available for children in 3K through 8th grade, and there will be approximately 50,000 seats available each day. Given the nature of a blended remote and in-person approach, this means the city plans to serve at least 100,000 students total. The administration is working to identify locations and maximize available space for childcare in schools, community centers, libraries, cultural organizations, and more. 

The city is working to have as many seats as possible ready for the first day of school, with capacity building out over time. 

New Yorkers with available space that could potentially be utilized for childcare should visit www.nycsca.org/realestate/sites.

AOC Raises $4.5M from Over 200k Donors

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-Astoria, College Point, Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside, parts of the Bronx) re-election campaign, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for Congress, reported raising more than $4.5 million from more than 221,000 contributions during the second quarter on Wednesday night. 

Over 100,000 of those contributions came from new donors. The average donation was $20.57. The campaign ended the quarter with nearly $3 million in cash on hand.

“I’m immensely grateful to the working people who gave what they could during this incredibly difficult time to help us decisively defeat a Wall Street-backed opponent. Our grassroots movement is growing stronger every day, and with their help, we will one day create a political system that answers to working people, not corporate lobbyists,” said Ocasio-Cortez in a statement. “I’m also extraordinarily grateful to all those who contributed to our COVID-19 relief efforts. With their help, we’ve raised nearly $1 million to support one of the hardest-hit districts in the country.”

To date, the campaign has raised nearly $940,000 in direct relief for community groups and advocacy organizations serving NY-14 constituents on the frontline. This relief has funded PPE, food pantries, bail funds and financial support for undocumented families, service workers, the food insecure, and Amazon warehouse workers.

Holden Denounces Signing of Police Reform Bills

City Council Member Bob Holden

Councilmember Robert Holden (D-Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Woodhaven, Woodside) released the following statement In response to Mayor Bill de Blasio signing into law a package of police reform bills, the NYPD Accountability Package:

“Just when there was hope that the Mayor would stand firm in his original opposition to many of these bills, he ended up caving to the pressure of those hell-bent on destroying this city and any semblance of law and order,” said Holden. “This is the final nail in the coffin for whatever legacy the mayor had left during his disastrous terms as mayor, and instead of doing the right thing, he cemented his time in office with further bloodshed. It’s tragically fitting that hours before the bill signing, police officers were getting brutally assaulted by agitators while trying to make an arrest. January 2022 cannot come soon enough.”