NY Lawmakers on the Move Aug. 9, 2022

Lawmakers on the Move

Meng applauds key spending bill to help combat hate crimes

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) and U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) yesterday applauded millions in funding to continue their efforts to combat hate crimes.

The money has been included in the Justice Department’s budget which is awaiting floor action in the House and Senate. The bill, approved by the House Appropriations Committee, provides $30 million for the Justice Department’s Community-Based Approaches to Advancing Justice Grant Program, an initiative created last year that expanded on provisions in the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act which Meng and Hirono passed into law in May of 2021. These funds follow the $5 million grant that the two lawmakers secured in last year’s spending package. 

“More than two years into the COVID-19 crisis, Asian Americans continue to live in fear of hate crimes and incidents due to being scapegoated for the pandemic,” said Meng. “That is why it is important to invest in the Justice Department’s programs to ensure we are taking a holistic approach to addressing the problem. While we finalize the government spending bills for the coming fiscal year, it is critical that our communities not lose out on vital federal funds that will help local organizations support victims and address discrimination and violence.”

“I introduced the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act with Congresswoman Meng to combat the disturbing rise in hate crimes Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have faced since the onset of the COVID pandemic,” said Hirono. “This legislation has been critical to our work to prevent hate-based crimes and empower our communities, but it is clear that more must be done.”

Community-based organizations have been leaders throughout the pandemic, supporting victims and their families in combating and recovering from the rise in hate crimes and incidents. The fiscal year 2022 omnibus created the Community-Based Approaches to Advancing Justice at the Justice Department, which received $5 million in funding. The grant is being administered by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance which was established to reduce violent crime and create safer communities.

Espaillat, Ocasio-Cortez Urge DHS Action for Asylum Seekers bussed to New York City

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

U.S. Reps. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan, Bronx) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Queens, Bronx) yesterday sent a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urging the agency to prioritize ensuring asylum seekers that arrive to New York City are provided accurate resources and informational upon their arrival. 

“According to recent reporting, asylum seekers being loaded onto buses from Arizona and Texas are dealt official Department of Homeland Security documentation directing them to social services organizations, rather than New York City’s Department of Homeless Services Prevention Assistance and Temporary Housing (PATH) intake center located at 151 East 151st Street in the Bronx. Alarmingly, many instances reflect that the addresses to social services organizations on the documents asylum seekers receive are inaccurate, misleading them and in some cases, putting that at risk of removal due to missing an important court date.” the members wrote.

“When asylum seekers arrive, they are left stranded, unaware of the resources and locations of the city’s intake centers. It is imperative that your agency work with municipalities who are receiving bussed asylum seekers and guarantee that addresses you are directing them to are accurate. Doing so will avoid ensuring that migrants, many of whom are families with children, receive lifesaving resources in a timely manner. Coordination between federal, state, and local partners is critical to affirm safe housing and access to appropriate social and legal services for asylum seekers,” the members conclude.

New York City has continued to help asylum seekers but requires increased funding for programs that have effectively aided those exercising their legal right to seek asylum in the United States. 

Rajkumar condemns suspected hate crime at Hindu temple in Queens

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar (D-Queens) – the first Hindu-American elected official in New York State–  today will bring together community leaders and elected officials to denounce a suspected hate crime at Shri Tulsi Mandir, a beloved Hindu temple in South Richmond Hill. 

Last Wednesday, three people allegedly vandalized and toppled a Mahatma Gandhi statue outside the mandir. This comes after the vandalism of Union Square’s Gandhi statue in February, among other Gandhi statues desecrated around the world. 

“A central tenet of Hinduism is inclusivity and mutual respect toward people of all faiths. Hindus believe not just in tolerance, but in one step more than tolerance– actively loving and respecting people of different backgrounds and faiths. This was Mahatma Gandhi’s dream– a peaceful, loving world. We have achieved Gandhi’s dream in Richmond Hill, where Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, and Christians live together in harmony, often on the same block,” said Rajkumar.

“The desecration of Gandhi statues and anti-Hindu hate crimes will not be tolerated in Richmond Hill or anywhere in New York State. At a time when our city is experiencing a 127% increase in hate crimes, elected officials and community leaders will gather together tomorrow in my district at Tulsi Mandir to condemn hate crimes against any group based on their religion or ethnicity,” she added.

The unity rally is slated for 10:30 a.m., today, Aug. 9 at 103-24 111 Street in South Richmond Hill, the site of the crime.

Sanders Jr. National Guard Resources Bill Signed Into Law By Governor 

State Senator James Sanders Jr.

Senator James Sanders Jr. yesterday had one of his bills signed into law by the Governor. It would help men and women serving in the National Guard and their families. 

Bill S666-A  amends the military law by adding a new section to require the Division of Military and Naval Affairs is required information on benefits for members of the national guard and their family in both printed form and on the Division’s website.

“As a Senator and a Marine Corps Veteran, I truly care about our military personnel and I am always looking for ways to improve their lives,” Sanders said. “This bill would allow National Guard members to have a place to find information on benefits and services available to them and their families, which is a really important resource.”

Governor Hochul praised the blll for helping our National Guard members clearly understand the benefits that are offered to them for their service.

“Our National Guard members put their lives on the line every day to keep New Yorkers across the state safe, and they are owed a great deal for their sacrifice,” Hochul said.