House Democrats Introduce Immigration Reform Package
Last Saturday, U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan, Bronx) joined U.S. Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Don Beyer (D-VA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL) to introduce a legislative package aimed at protecting immigrant rights.
The bills seek to outlaw the egregious immigration enforcement tactics that the Trump Administration was notorious for using. Among the bills included in the package are:
- The Protecting Sensitive Locations At, which would prohibit immigration enforcement in schools, houses of worship, courthouses and other “sensitive locations”;
- The REUNITE Act, which would require the prompt reunification of all children who were separated from their parents as a result of the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy;
- And the ICE and CBP Body Camera Accountability Act, which would require ICE and CBP officers to wear body cameras, and to make that footage available for use in court proceedings.
“My colleagues and I are re-introducing this series of bills, a legislative package that will protect immigrants, immigrant families, and uphold the promises of the American dream,” said Espaillat. “Simply put, this legislative package puts forth policies to correct the atrocities we witnessed during the previous administration. We urge President Biden to consider our legislative package as his administration prioritizes keeping families together and rolling out the framework on which we will build to finally realize comprehensive immigration reform once and for all.”
Williams Responds to Racial Disparity in COVID-19 Vaccinations
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (D) released a statement on Sunday after Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) released demographic data on who has received the COVID-19 vaccine so far.
The data found that vaccination rates in communities of color are far behind those of white neighborhoods. White New Yorkers make up 48 percent of those who have received at least one vaccine dose, despite only comprising 42 percent of the overall population.
“Our leaders have continually failed vulnerable communities throughout this pandemic – first in minimizing infection, now in maximizing injection,” said Williams. “The demographic data on vaccine distribution that the city finally released today after long delays confirms what we feared and expected – that the people and communities of more color, disproportionately harmed by the pandemic, have been disproportionately hindered in equitable access to vaccination.
“Many of us knew this would be the case, and we know there are many contributing factors, from infrastructure inadequacy and technological failures to cultural hesitancy to longstanding healthcare privileges and disparities. We know too that the government – city, state, and federal – each had a role in creating this divide, and has a responsibility to equitably close it. There are no excuses and there can be no passing the blame at this point – supply may be a federal issue, but distribution decisions fall on our state and local executives.”
Cuomo Issues State of Emergency for New York Due to Winter Storm
Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) declared a state of emergency in New York City and nine other counties in response to the arrival of a massive winter storm.
The storm, which began Sunday night, is expected to continue through Wednesday morning; forecasters predict that New York City, Long Island and the Mid-Hudson regions will receive the heaviest snowfall. In addition to the state of emergency, Cuomo also warned travelers and commuters that above-ground subway service may see significant delays, depending on the severity of the storm.
“This storm is no joke and the main concern right now is that the expected snowfall rate of two inches per hour this afternoon creates an extremely dangerous situation on our roadways,” Cuomo said. “When snow is falling that quickly, it makes it very difficult for plows to keep up with it. I want New Yorkers to hear me loud and clear – stay home and off the roads and if you must travel, get where you’re going before noon, and expect to remain home for some time. We’ve been through this before and we will get through it again.”
Johnson, Cumbo Disapprove of Spice Factory Rezoning
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen) and Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo (D-Brooklyn) released a joint statement yesterday, after City Planning Commission (CPC) voted to certify a contentious rezoning proposal at 960 Franklin Ave., the Old Spice Factory.
The rezoning would provide for the construction of two 35-story apartment buildings, as well as 20,000 square feet of commercial space and 9,000 square feet for a daycare center. Johnson and Cumbo expressed concern that the massive buildings could cast shadows over the neighboring Brooklyn Botanic Garden, thus endangering the plant life.
“The Council is disappointed that Continuum continues to advance this proposal despite widespread opposition in the community, as well as the clear danger posed to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s conservatory greenhouses by the shadows that would be cast by these huge towers,” they said. “The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a priceless public asset that must be preserved for generations to come and we will not support any proposal that will harm the Garden. We share the concerns raised by the City Planning Commission today and urge Continuum to drop this proposal and instead work towards a viable project that addresses Crown Heights’ needs for affordable housing and community services while respecting neighborhood character and our beloved institutions like the Botanic Garden.”