NY Lawmakers on the Move, Feb. 28, 2022

Lawmakers on the Move

Hanif Immigration Committee Investigates ICE Facility in Orange County

City Council Member Shahana Hanif

City Council Member Shahana Hanif (D-Brooklyn), chair of the council’s Immigration Committee, today will hold a committee hearing to investigate troubling allegations of abuse at the ICE facility in upstate Orange County.

“Our office has been working with advocates, immigration lawyers, and detained immigrants at the facility to hold officials accountable. From disregard of COVID-19 precautions to outright racist abuse (that got two of the jail staff recently reassigned), ICE’s contempt for human rights at this facility must be brought to light (we’ve been running a Twitter thread on the allegations against the jail if you want to learn more),” wrote Hanif in her e-newsletter. 

“While Orange County is very much outside of the five boroughs, this is our Council’s fight because this is where almost every single one of the New York City residents detained by ICE are held. Our neighbors are hundreds of miles from home in a dangerous situation, so it’s our job to fight for them,” she added.

This hearing is part of a whole week of action led by immigrants and activists to pass the Dignity Not Detention Bill in Albany. This legislation would prohibit the state from contracting with ICE and would close facilities like Orange County. 

At the end of the hearing, the committee is expected to vote on a resolution calling on the State Legislature to pass this legislation.

The remote hearing is open to the public and is slated for 10 a.m., today, Feb. 28 at Virtual Room 3

Joseph Education Committee Explores COVID Impact on English Language Learners

City Council Member Rita Joseph

City Council Member Rita Joseph (D-Brooklyn), chair of the council’s Education Committee, today will hold a hearing on the COVID Impact on English Language Learners (ELLs).

In a council report it is stated the Department of Education (DOE) offers three programs for ELLs: Dual Language; Transitional Bilingual Education; and English as a New Language. 

The Dual Language program teaches students in two languages, English and their home language, used equally, with the goal of enabling students to read, write, and speak in both English and their home language. 

The Transitional Bilingual Education program supports students in their home language while they fully transition to English-only instruction by providing reading, writing, and other classes in both the student’s home language and in English. As students’ English improves, they spend more time learning in English and less time learning in their home language and leave the program when they are no longer identified as ELLs. 

The English as a New Language (ENL) program, which used to be called English as a Second Language (ESL), provides instruction in English with support in the students’ home language. Students from many different language backgrounds are taught together, until they become English proficient.

ELLs comprise 13.3% percent of the more than 1 million students in the NYC public school system. During the 2020-2021 school year, there were 145,723 ELLs, including both school-age and pre-school students, out of a total public school enrollment of 1,094,138. 

On the 2019 State English Language Arts (ELA) exam, only 9.3% of current ELLs in grades 3 through 8 scored at or above proficient, compared to 47.4% of all students in those grades citywide. Similarly, on the 2019 State math test, only 18.9% of current ELLs in grades 3 through 8 scored at or above proficient, compared to 45.6% for all students in those grades citywide.  

The remote hearing is open to the public and slated for 1 p.m., today, Feb. 28 at Virtual Room 4.

QBP Richards Announces Hybrid Return-to-Office Model for QBP Office Employees

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. announced last week a new program to help develop a permanent hybrid work model for the Queens Borough President’s Office (QBPO), effective Tuesday, March 1.

“I could not be more grateful for my staff — true public servants who have worked diligently and with professionalism in the midst of a major COVID-19 surge to deliver for the families of Queens during our most recent remote work period. But ultimately, there needs to be a balanced and prudent approach to the future of remote work,” said Richards.

“Arguments that all employees need to return to fully-in-person work — or should be allowed to work entirely remotely — ignore lessons learned from the past two years. With the Omicron wave receding, my office will use this opportunity to study how remote work can be leveraged permanently to improve outcomes for constituents and benefit our employees’ work-life balance. This pilot program is the way we will determine that appropriate balance for our office.”

Under Richards’ new Remote Work Day Pilot Program will begin on March 1, with employees initially working four days per week from Queens Borough Hall and remotely for a fifth day. All office employees will be eligible to request a specific weekday — either Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays — they would like to work remotely each week that month, pending supervisor approval. 

As the pilot program proceeds, QBPO may amend the program to allow for additional remote work days per week in order to determine a sustainable permanent balance of in-office and remote work for its QBPO employees.

Existing safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will remain in place once QBPO employees return to the office. Staff are required to wear masks at all times while indoors, regardless of vaccination status, while adhering to social distancing practices.

Velázquez to Host A People’s State of the Union

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens) today will join other elected officials and  hundreds of activists and community members as they address the true state of the union and the state of the people’s lives in Washington D.C.

On the eve of President Biden’s State of the Union address, immigrant New Yorkers will head to Washington DC to join hundreds of community members and progressive activists from several organizations to share the state of the union, as seen and experienced by the people. 

The community members and activists, descending from all over the country, believe it is imperative that President Biden deliver on campaign promises of a path to citizenship through legislative action and act now on critical immigration issues, climate issues, healthcare, and more through administrative action. 

Make the Road New York buses will depart from Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and will arrive at Washington D.C. The schedule is as follows:

5:30 a.m.: Buses depart Queens: 92-10 Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights, NY

6:30 a.m.: Buses depart Brooklyn: 301 Grove Street, Brooklyn, NY

7:00 a.m.: Buses depart Staten Island, 161 Port Richmond Avenue, Staten Island, NY

The event is slated for 12 noon, today, Feb. 28 at Lafayette Park – H & 16th St NW, Washington D.C.