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Summer Update 2018: Keep Families Together

June 5, 2018
Newsletter

In this issue:

A Note from Rep. Velázquez
Fighting to Keep Families Together & Reaffirming America’s Commitment to Immigrants
Growing Healthy Communities
Pressing for Answers After Natural Disaster
Celebrating Pride Month
Exercising Congressional Oversight Under the Current Administration
Announcing Community Grants

 

A Note from Rep. Velázquez
 

Dear Friends. 

I wanted to take a moment and provide a brief update on some of my activities in recent weeks.  First, however, if you don’t already, please take a moment to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  You can also view occasional video updates on my YouTube Channel here.

These platforms are among the best way to stay informed about my work in New York and Washington. It only takes a second, so please click on the links above and follow me on social media.

As a New Yorker, I am proud to hail from a City that has long embraced immigrants. Many of you recently called my office expressing concern over this Administration’s zero tolerance policy, which has resulted in the separation of children from parents and family detainment. I believe we are a better nation than this and, to that end, have actively opposed this policy.

In Congress, I’m continuing the push for compassionate immigration reform, which includes reuniting families and helping Dreamers and TPS recipients secure legal status.

I also believe that this Administration’s anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric are meant to distract us from important issues that we all collectively care about. To that end, I’m fighting to ensure all working New Yorkers can thrive. Whether it is greater economic opportunity, a stronger safety net, more affordable housing or programs assisting seniors, or protecting the local environment, our City is at its best when we care for our most vulnerable neighbors.

Despite the challenges ahead, I remain hopeful that our City’s spirit of resilience will help us build a better future for everyone. I can assure you that in the halls of Congress, I will not stop advocating for the values we share.  

Thanks again for reading. And don’t forget to follow me on social media!

Sincerely,

Nydia M. Velázquez
Member of Congress

 

Fighting to Keep Families Together & Reaffirming America’s Commitment to Immigrants

Rep. Velázquez believes immigrants make our nation and New York City great. That is why she is at the forefront of the fight in Congress to protect immigrants who she believes have been unjustly targeted by the President. She recently voted against H.R. 4760, a House Republican Leadership bill that she believes would have further dismantled protections for migrant children and imposed drastic cuts to legal immigration.

The Congresswoman is also standing up against the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy which, according to NPR, has resulted in the separation of thousands of children from their parents at the border. In mid-June, Velázquez visited several detention facilities at the U.S. border in San Diego. Describing the conditions as “heart wrenching,” the Congresswoman is taking several actions in Congress to press for an end to family separations.

She joined 193 other Members of the House of Representatives in cosponsoring legislation that would put an end to family separations, establish means for reuniting families and enforce the argument that detention is not in the best interests of families and children. The bill is called the “Keep Families Together Act,” and it was originally introduced in the United States Senate by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and in the House by House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).

After the President signed his executive order in response to family separations, the Congresswoman said the order is insufficient, noting that the Administration does not have in place a feasible plan to reunite children with their families and arguing that the entire zero tolerance policy must be reversed.  She believes that the President’s zero tolerance policy must be completely reversed.

While the recent situation on the border has received the lion share of media attention, the Congresswoman continues advocating for DREAMERs, young immigrants who came to the U.S. years ago with their parents as children.  As the top Democrat on the House Small Business Committee, she authored a report highlighting how these young immigrants strengthen our small business sector by founding startups. You can read more about the report and DREAMERs’ entrepreneurial contributions in Inc.com.

Rep. Velázquez is also leading legislative efforts to protect another at-risk group, recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS). For decades, TPS has been embraced by Administrations from both political parties to grant legal protections for immigrants fleeing violence or natural disaster. However, since January of last year the Trump Administration has begun removing TPS eligibility for six previously designated countries.   According to Vox, these changes will have turned 400,000 current legal U.S. residents into unauthorized immigrants by 2020.

In response, the Congresswoman has authored, the American Promise Act, legislation that would expand lawful permanent status for TPS holders and also provide a pathway to citizenship. The American Promise Act has been endorsed by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and currently has 110 cosponsors in Congress. You can read more about bill in the Queens Times Ledger, Vox and The Nation.

Finally, the Congresswoman believes that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is no longer performing the role Congress intended.  She has agreed to cosponsor legislation that would dismantle ICE and establish a commission offering recommendations to Congress on how the federal government can put in place a humane immigration enforcement system that upholds all individuals’ dignity, while moving necessary functions to other agencies.  You may read her statement regarding ICE online here.  

Promoting Healthy Communities

The Congresswoman believes that all New Yorkers deserve enough to eat.  To that end, she will continue working to protect programs like the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).   In New York’s 7th district alone, 5,672 households count on SNAP benefits for nutritional help. That is why the Congresswoman voted against the House Republican Majority’s Farm Bill that she believes threatens deep cuts to SNAP and why she will continue pressing Congress to return to its history of crafting a bipartisan farm bill.

Likewise, the Congresswoman is working to address New York’s affordable housing crisis.  While President Trump’s budget proposed zeroing out the public housing capital fund, the Congresswoman worked with Congress to boost funding for public housing authorities, like NYCHA. The “omnibus” spending bill that Congress passed and that was enacted in March contained an $800 million increase in funding for the Public Housing Capital Fund and a $100 million in additional resources for the Public Housing Operating Fund.  The omnibus also provided more than $22 billion to renew all Housing Choice Vouchers, and included almost $1.8 billion for administrative fees

Promoting healthy communities also means addressing environmental issues.  The Congresswoman strongly believes New Yorkers deserve clean air to breathe and water to drink. In Congress, she is working to safeguard environmental protections and increase funding to clean up toxic waste. This year, the Congresswoman became a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, where she is expanding her fight to curb carbon emissions, reduce offshore drilling and protect diverse wildlife. Watch the Congresswoman speak during a committee hearing in opposition to a proposal to restrict clean energy initiatives in states like New York, here.

Arguing that big oil and chemical companies ought to be held accountable for toxic waste left over in New York City’s communities, the Congresswoman has introduced legislation to reimpose a tax on these “big polluters.” Her bill would help to raise more money for the cleanup of EPA designated Superfund sites such as Wolff-Alport Chemical Company, the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek in Brooklyn and Queens.

You can read about the Congresswoman’s efforts to reinstate the “Superfund tax,” in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, BKLYNER, Queens Tribune and the Queens Chronicle.

Pressing for Answers After Natural Disaster

New Yorkers share an unbreakable bond with the Island of Puerto Rico and the Congresswoman has continued making aid for the Island after Maria a top priority.  In May, an analysis conducted by researchers at Harvard, ties an estimated 4,645 deaths to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, while the official death toll stands at 64.  In response to these tragic figures, Rep. Velázquez is seeking transparency and accountability. To that end, she previously called upon the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct an independent investigation into Maria’s death toll.

The Congresswoman has since introduced legislation to create a “9-11 style” independent commission to investigate the federal response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico. The commission would be charged with probing whether an artificially low death count hampered an adequate federal response, and if there were any discrepancies between the disaster response in Puerto Rico compared with the Mainland. You can read more about this legislation in NBC News, CNN, USA Today and Buzzfeed.

Additionally, to learn from the lessons of Hurricane Maria, the Congresswoman joined with Senator Kamala Harris in authoring legislation that would require FEMA to conduct a study into best practices for determining fatalities after a national disaster. You can read about their bill, the “COUNT Act” in Vox.

Celebrating Pride Month

New Yorkers share a special relationship with LGBTQ Pride, as the modern movement for gay rights was born outside of the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. Reflecting on the triumphs and struggles that have defined LGBTQ history in America, the Congresswoman sat down to record a video in honor of Pride Month.   You can watch the Congresswoman’s Pride Month video message, here.

Exercising Congressional Oversight Under the Current Administration

As the first Member of Congress to call for the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate President Trump’s potential ties to Russia, Rep. Velázquez is committed to ensuring that Mueller’s investigation remains free from political interference. To that end, she has cosponsored the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, legislation that would prevent the removal of a Special Counsel by the President.

Rep. Velázquez believes that as a Member of Congress, it is her duty to serve as a check on the executive branch and uphold the constitution. For these reasons, she has joined 197 other Congressional plaintiffs in a lawsuit demanding that President Trump comply with the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause. Under this clause, the President of the United States must disclose to Congress any payments that he has accepted from foreign governments. Read more in The Washington Post.

Announcing Community Grants

Recently, the Congresswoman announced a series of federal grants that will help fund local Head Start early learning and other vital public programs for New Yorkers. This summer, the following institutions within New York’s 7th District have received federal grants.

  • A grant has been awarded to United Academy in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The Academy will receive $1,192,446 in federal funding. The funding will ensure the organization can continue making important health and educational programs available to Williamsburg’s children.
     
  • The Catholic Charities Neighborhood Service has been awarded $1,029,097 to continue to provide high-quality educational services to local children in Brooklyn. Harnessing the Montessori holistic approach to early learning, their program features hands-on age appropriate opportunities for children from birth to age seven.
     
  • Cypress Hills Child Care Corporation has been awarded $1,121,065 to further their service to early learning for children in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn.
     
  • Sunset Park Health Council, Inc. has been awarded a series of federal grants to continue their work providing dental and other health services to at-risk patients. One grant was a Health Center Cluster award for $7,708,178, another was awarded to improve dental training and services for $228,436 and a third grant was awarded for $533,076 under the Affordable Care Act Teaching Health Center (THC) Graduate Medical Education (GME) Payment Program.
     
  • Betances Health Center on the Lower East Side of Manhattan has been awarded a federal Health Center Cluster grant for $1,389,605 to help serve patients in the area.
     
  • Brooklyn Legal Services helps connect low-income residents with legal advocacy and resources. This summer, they were awarded $200,000 in federal funding to continue their work.
     
  • To help young people who chose to give back to local communities through the AmeriCorps initiative, three centers in the Congresswoman’s district have received federal grants to support AmeriCorps. They are Grand Street Settlement ($261,949), the New Teacher Project ($400,000) and Sunset Park AmeriCorps ($197,787). You can read more here.
     

 

 

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