Posted on 05/13/2013 @ 03:19 PM
By Juan Cartagena May 2013
Ten years ago on May 1st, I entered the pristine Red Beach of Vieques, Puerto Rico that for 60 years prior was reserved only for the military officers of the U.S. Navy. It was an appropriate cleansing after a night of celebration that heralded May 1, 2003 as Vieques Libre Day and the end of the 60 year naval bombing of this gorgeous island off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. Along with my fellow protestors and veterans from New Jersey we were also enjoying access to untouched areas of Vieques as a symbolic gift for years of protests, condemnations and civil disobedience.
The Vieques movement is a catalytic episode in the history of Puerto Rico and its diaspora. It is also an amazing tale of resistance, fortitude and the strength of nonviolent, civil disobedience against the largest military forces of the world.
It was also one of my proudest moments as an activist, civil rights lawyer.
For decades the people and the fishermen of Vieques and nearby Culebra Island had resisted the U.S. military occupation of their islands. Culebra was a focal point for many of the activist and independence forces of Puerto Rico and its own victory that ended the continuation of naval bombing in 1975.
But what the Navy gave in Culebra it appropriated in Vieques. Vieques represented a larger investment by the Pentagon and housed its practice areas for land, sea and air bombing exercises that inundated the island with explosives on both its eastern and western shores.
In the middle stood the residences of Vieques’ 9,000 plus community, besieged daily by the sounds, smells and pollutants generated by the naval exercises. Napalm, Agent Orange and other toxic substances were all previewed in Vieques. Unexploded ordinances on land and in the seabed were a constant source of frustration for those who dared to enter the military zone, or to eke out a living subsiding on fishermen's wages.
In 1998, that all changed with the tragic death of a civilian worker, David Sanes Rodríguez, who was killed by an errant bomb in a naval exercise. His death was not the first one attributable to the military occupation because Vieques was, and still is, an island that faced disproportionate rates of cancer and other debilitating diseases. Vieques also witnessed violent clashes between its residents and the U.S. military whenever the military was on leave. And in 1978 Angel Rodríguez Cristóbal protested the military occupation of Vieques was arrested for trespass and died mysteriously in federal jail in Florida, terrorizing all future protestors. But the death of Mr. Sanes Rodríguez was definitely the incisive moment that galvanized Puerto Ricans of all political persuasions and that eventually led to Vieques Libre Day.
For the next five years Vieques grew to become the cause celebre of my generation of Puerto Rican activists, on both sides of the charco. Increasing levels of organized resistance, hunger strikes, unauthorized entry into the militarized zones, and waves of civil disobedience arrests galvanized Puerto Ricans and their supporters. In Puerto Rico thousands of supporters flooded Vieques led by unions, churches, political parties, environmentalists and more.
Vieques fishermen and their families recounted horrific tales of disease, courageous tales of chasing naval battalion carriers with single-motored boats, and inspiring accounts of their generational resistance and quest for peace. Puerto Rican independence leader Ruben Berríos defiantly camped within the military zone for months while his ideological counterpart, Governor and statehood supporter Pedro Roselló yelled at a Congressional committee “don’t push it!” at a hearing on Vieques.
Rarely did the three strands of political life in Puerto Rico (commonwealth status quo, statehood, and independence) coalesce in the way they did over the goal to demilitarize Vieques. In short order celebrities joined the cause as Edward James Olmos, Robert Kennedy Jr., Jesse Jackson, and Jacqueline Jackson joined island celebrities Ricky Martin, Danny Rivera, Robbie Draco Rosa, Carlos Delgado and countless others in wave after wave of civil disobedience.
All three Congress representatives from the diaspora engaged in disobedience and were arrested: Nydia Velázquez and Luis Gutiérrez in Vieques and José Serrano in a solitary protest in front of the White House in DC. Through efforts supported by these representatives, the leaders of the Vieques movement came to New York to enlist the support of the Rev. Al Sharpton and the African-American community. The result was the arrest and excessively long sentencing of the ”Vieques Four” Sharpton, José Rivera, Alfredo Carrión, and Roberto Ramirez who were held in federal confinement for the simple act of entering naval lands without authorization.
The sentencing of the Vieques Four highlighted another atrocity of the Vieques movement: the cooptation of overzealous federal prosecutors and federal judges in Puerto Rico. Non-violent, civil disobedience in Vieques for first time offenders with established ties in the community were systematically subject to prosecutorial demands for bail between $3,000 and $10,000. And the courts stood idly by. Worse yet the courts issued in one wave of civil disobedience sentences of 40 days or more! – again, for first-time offenders to 40 protestors.
The courts were another battleground in the battle for Vieques. The Puerto Rican Legal Defense & Education Fund, now called LatinoJustice PRLDEF, also answered the call. Spurred by labor activist Dennis Rivera and labor union 1199, PRLDEF attorneys were in Vieques assessing possible claims.
They, along with Robert Kennedy, Jr. and María Jiménez of the University of Puerto Rico Law School, PRLDEF filed Waterkeeper Alliance v. Gordon to seek a court order against the bombing and to begin environmental remediation. Foster Maer, one of the attorneys recalls that Judge Héctor Lafitte on his own motion sought to dismiss or curtail the suit. Eventually the federal agencies settled on the remediation portion of the case and the lawyers were forced to table their civil rights claims.
In the Puerto Rican diaspora civil disobedience was present in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Hartford, and San Francisco. A local meeting in Jersey City to draw support and called by tenant activist Anthony Cruz galvanized my resolve to become actively involved. Trained by Vicente “Panama” Alba I was arrested twice before the United Nations and once before a military recruitment station in Jersey City.
I represented protestors in criminal courts in New Jersey and obtained full dismissals of their charges. I, along with scores of New York City protestors, refused conditional dismissal offers from city prosecutors and were eventually tried in one of largest criminal trials in the city’s history for an ordinance violation – not even a criminal charge. We were found guilty and paid off our minimal fines. And every day in court was another day before the press as we outlined the atrocities of the Navy’s insistence on using an inhabited island for war practice.
Civil disobedience for me was as natural as dissent is American. It was cathartic. As I testified on the stand I did it to maintain my relevance to the Puerto Rican community that had been the focus of my professional, activist and cultural work. And the ability to question authority in this non-violent manner was in keeping with a long line of historical figures: Harriet Tubman, Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cesar Chavez.
Collectively we took action that the state criminalizes to foster principles that were morally correct in the face of injustice. In the words of John Rawls, the civilly disobedient appeal to the people as the ultimate arbiter of the law, not to the police, the district attorney or the courts. The words “an unjust law is no law at all” have been attributed to St. Augustine and it became my guide.
The pressure continued as a referendum in Vieques overwhelmingly supported peace and an end to the bombing in July 2000. As the pressure mounted on the Bush administration to pull the Navy out it became evident that the military training maneuvers in Vieques were obsolete. Organizers in Puerto Rico and New York began to obtain alternative opinions from retired military officers about the utility of the war exercises.
Then came 9/11.
By that time I was one of the spokespersons for the Hudson County Committee in Support of Vieques. The terrorist attacks of September 11th were about a mile away from our homes in Jersey. The people of Puerto Rico observed a 30-day moratorium on civil disobedience. The Navy responded with another round of bombing and war exercises in September. In New Jersey we responded deliberately and strategically . We fully supported the efforts to bring the criminals and terrorists to justice.
But we repeated our support for the end of the injustice in Vieques. At the risk of sounding unpatriotic we reminded everyone of the incredible legacy of military service that Puerto Ricans have forged, valiantly, in every war since World War I. “Standing for peace is not anti-American” we noted, as our renewed call for peace in Vieques ramped up. And we ended our missive with the referendum of Vieques voters in mind: “Democracy was not canceled on September 11th but democracy will not survive if we act uncritically.” Our statement garnered the support of multiple activists and leaders throughout New Jersey.
Finally, President Bush decided to heed the call and stood by his promise of a Navy pullout by May 2003.
Vieques Libre Day had arrived and I was blessed to be there. The camaraderie was everywhere, the relief and joy, palpable. I returned with a handful of gifts for my partners in the disobedience movement: sections of wire fence that kept Viequenses off of their own island.
In March 2013, I returned for the first time to Vieques, this time with my two grown children. They grew up with the Vieques struggle as a backdrop in our home, participating in various ways. One year, before the victory, while the Vieques Four were transferred from a federal correctional facility in Puerto Rico to one in Brooklyn, I asked for and got a simple Father’s Day gift. To march in protest for Vieques in Brooklyn so that the four men would know they had support. Through the rain we marched, played plena drums, and chanted.
All of this was on my mind as I visited Playa Caracas – the new readopted name of Red Beach – and enjoyed its beauty again. The wild horses were still on the island. The bioluminescent bay is still a natural wonder of the world. But the economy, even with the tourist trade and its accompanying gentrification, was still in peril. Demilitarization. Decontamination. Devolution. Development. These were the four rallying cries that led to Vieques Libre Day in 2003. They are still relevant today – especially the need for decontamination and economic development. We enjoyed the island in every possible way and eventually returned on the ferry to the big island, Puerto Rico.
On May 1, 2013, in New York City, I attended a briefing on the current situation in Vieques sponsored by the Puerto Rican government’s agency in the U.S., the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration. Veterans of the Vieques movement were there like Assemblyman José Rivera, one of the Vieques Four, Rep. José Serrano, who recounted his solo protest in wonderful detail, Luis Garden Acosta, an incredible force on urban environmental issues and like me, one of the arrestees before the U.N., and labor leader David Galarza.
Puerto Rico Senate President Eduardo Bhatia commended the contributions of Puerto Rico’s diaspora to the victory in Vieques and recounted his own prison cell days as a sentenced civil disobedient in Puerto Rico. Reminiscence, however, quickly gave way to reality. Decontamination is painfully slow and measured in decades. The Environmental Protection Agency states that the “blow in place” practice of collecting unexploded ordinances and detonating them in place, does not pose an unacceptable risk to air quality. Sounds counter-intuitive, especially for those of us who live near the World Trade Center heard that before from the EPA. But the agency also admits that the Superfund clean-up is almost all land based.
Carmen Guerro, the Cabinet Secretary of the Puerto Rican government in charge of these matters shared the startling photo just released by Vieques environmental activists and highlighted the next day by Juan González of the New York Daily News. A scuba diver is standing under water on the ocean’s bed, dwarfed by a massive unexploded bomb that extends for 12 feet above the sea bed. Guerrero also noted tellingly that of the seven licensed kayaking operations that have permission to tour the bioluminescent bay only one is owned by a Viequense.
Much needs to be done.
It will take years to fully assess the magnitude of how Vieques changed the relations between the U.S. and Puerto Rico, and to assess how non-violent resistance overcame all odds. Ten years ago Puerto Rico, a small island of less than four million inhabitants, was the talk of the world.
The dynamism that existed in this David and Goliath story went well beyond the White House, the Pentagon and the courts. It touched the people viscerally. I was able to perform with the bomba and plena group Segunda Quimbamba a composition dedicated to end of the bombing on a nationally syndicated music show hosted by the now-famous Sofia Vergara, and no one blinked. The crusade to stop the bombing seemed to have no end. At the height of the protests, environmentalist Tito Kayak from Puerto Rico scaled the crown of the Statute of Liberty in the New York Bay and hung a flag of Vieques as the ultimate symbolic call for peace. In his court appearance in Manhattan I heard him proclaim confidently “Bieke o muerte!” Such was the commitment to peace.
The people of Vieques remembered its resistance, its courage, and its collective will. The island’s recovery is still in progress but its place in the history of nonviolent movements cannot be gainsaid.
Paz para Vieques.
Follow President and General Counsel, Juan Cartagena on Twitter @LJCartagena.
CIR13 MarkUp Tweet Chat
Posted on 05/06/2013 @ 12:26 AM
Join us and New Yorkers for Real Immigration Reform as we discuss the immigration reform markups that are taking place this month. The work is not yet done and we must understand that we still do not have any legislation. Now more than ever, we need you to help us protect the path to citizenship! Get involved and join the conversation on CIR13 Follow LatinoJustice & #CIRmarkup to join the conversation!
Obama Nominates LatinoJustice PRLDEF Board Member Vernon Broderick to Federal Court Bench
Posted on 04/24/2013 @ 03:54 PM
Vernon Broderick, a LatinoJustice PRLDEF Board member and Weil, Gotshal & Manges partner, has been nominated by President Obama to serve on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Broderick is a longtime member of LatinoJustice’s board and a former Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York.
“I am proud to nominate this outstanding candidate to serve on the United States District Court bench,” said President Obama. “Vernon Broderick has a long and distinguished record of service, and I am confident he will serve on the federal bench with distinction.”
Broderick was recommended to President Obama by U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer.
“Vernon Broderick is a proven leader with a strong legal and public service background,” said Senator Schumer. ”Mr. Broderick has a clear commitment to justice, outstanding dedication to public service, and broad experience that makes him an exceptional choice for a position on the bench in the Southern District.”
Vernon has served with distinction on the board of LatinoJustice.
“Throughout his career Vernon has shown a commitment to judicial fairness and to protecting the rights of all people,” said Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “During his service on the board of LJP, Vernon has provided valuable leadership and commitment to the community and to our mission. I agree with the president that he will be a great addition to the bench.”
At Weil, Vernon concentrates his practice on white collar criminal investigations and prosecutions, regulatory investigations and proceedings, and business litigation. He is a member of the White Collar Defense & Investigations Group and the Complex Commercial Litigation Group.
He was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in January 2011 to the New York State Commission on Public Integrity and served until new legislation created the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. He has been a Commissioner on the Commission to Combat Police Corruption in New York City since his appointment by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2003. He is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the New York Council of Defense Lawyers, and serves on the Board of Directors of the LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the Board of Directors for the Justice Resource Center of New York City.
Vernon graduated from Yale University, and received his J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Pack the Courts for Immigrant Rights
Posted on 04/23/2013 @ 05:32 PM
Youth Day: Pack The Courts
Posted on 03/31/2013 @ 04:07 PM
Call to Action: Youth Leaders Pack The Court!
Join youth leaders from across New York City, as they pack the courts on Monday, April 1st to combat discriminatory policing practices in their communities! Wear black and meet at 500 Pearl St to pack the courts! Join us at 1pm for a live press conference at Foley Square. Follow: #changethenypd #morethanaquota #NYPDontrial
LJP is Looking for Social Media Intern
Posted on 03/28/2013 @ 04:26 PM
We're Looking for a GREAT Intern- Is that you?
Unpaid Social Media Internship Spring 2013
We are looking for a Social Media Intern to work with our Communications and New Media Coordinator. To qualify for this internship you MUST have a twitter account.
Want to learn more about online organizing, advocacy and social media for social change? Here’s the perfect opportunity for an internship with LatinoJustice PRLDEF. This is a chance for you to do meaningful work and actually make an impact on civil rights campaigns both locally and nationally.
We are currently looking for an intern to start in April that can support the Communications Department. This intern will work closely with our Communications and New Media Coordinator, and her team on projects including:
- Creating content to support our national and local social media initiatives
- Engaging with our community across social media channels
- Forming and continuing relationships with civil rights organizations and influencers
- Planning, executing and tracking social media campaigns for LatinoJustice PRLDEF
• Strong writing skills.
• Extremely organized and detail oriented.
• Must have a good understanding and be well acquainted with all the social media platforms of LatinoJustice PRLDEF.
• Should be a self-starter that knows how to prioritize, is incredibly detail-oriented and doesn’t require a lot of structure or guidance.
• Must be enthusiastic! We are a small team and need someone with a positive attitude that loves to juggle multiple projects at once. Creative is a plus, but not necessary.
About LatinoJustice PRLDEF:
LatinoJustice PRLDEF champions an equitable society. Using the power of the law together with education and advocacy, LatinoJustice PRLDEF protects opportunities for all Latinos to succeed in work and school, fulfill their dreams, and sustain their families and communities.
Apply: To apply please submit a brief cover letter, your resume and twitter account to email@example.com.
Social Media Advocacy Workshops
Posted on 03/22/2013 @ 02:30 PM
Join us and learn how to use the basics of social media for your social justice campaigns and advocacy projects. RSVP by emailing jchavez@Latinojustice.org. Please email or call if you have any questions 212-739-7581.
Rootscamp: Unconference 2013
Posted on 03/22/2013 @ 01:29 PM
Organizing 2.0: Lessons Learned: "Organizing Issue Based New Media Campaigns With High School Students"
Come learn our creative approach to leading students to develop creative, engaging and innovative new media advocacy campaigns.
In 2011, the NYPD made over 684,000 stops in the controversial policy of Stop-and-Frisk. 90% of those stopped were Black and Latino between the ages of 14-24. In 2012, students from the Peapod Adobe Youth Voices Academy at Urban Arts and LatinoJustice PRLDEF created a 15 minute documentary, original soundtrack and social media campaign examining the impact of Stop-and-Frisk on NYC youth. Students met with attorneys, public figures, professors, and community leaders to examine the impact of this policy.
Based on trainings from the New Organizing Institute, we developed a new media leadership curriculum. Through a collective and creative vision, students became 21st century agents of change. Students fused the power of advocacy, creativity, youth media and online activism on platforms they already use and master on an everyday basis.
What is Rootscamp? What is Organizing 2.0?
Organizing New York will bring together hundreds of leaders, organizers, fundraisers, techies and activists to share our collective wisdom, skills, and talents. We will have workshops, trainings, discussions, consulting and networking opportunities, visionary speakers, and a provocative debate around strategy and practices.
Over three days in Lower Manhattan, we will bring together hundreds of people to learn from each other, share stories and strategies and build our skills, organizations and movements. Featured tracks focusing on online organizing, grassroots fundraising, civic engagement and much more.
Our goal is to serve the unique training needs of the members and staff of union locals, community based organizations and other membership lead groups.
Presented by organizations with long track records in running successful progressive conferences and trainings: Organizing 2.0, Working Families, New York Civic Engagement Table, Wellstone Action, Rootscamp, Democracy for America and many more!
Floyd Day 3
Posted on 03/20/2013 @ 07:47 PM
Floyd trial 3/20/13: “Handcuff the kids anyway” was message cops got
he day began with a whistleblower cop who spoke emotionally about not wanting his own kids to be shot by an officer fulfilling a stop-and-frisk requirement and ended with Jews and Arabs together celebrating a “Seder in the Streets” linking the Exodus story to the struggle against discriminatory policing and surveillance of Muslim communities.
In the world of Floyd v. City of New York – where it’s the NYPD that has to account for its behavior – it was just another (extraordinary) day. Officer Adhyl Polanco continued his testimony today and CCR lawyers also introduced tapes Polanco had made of precinct roll calls that further support his testimony that the NYPD “wants numbers at all costs.” Polanco asserted that the message officers received was that if they saw a group of Black or Latino kids on a corner they were to stop them and even if there were doing nothing wrong, “handcuff the kids anyway.” “We are illegally stopping and illegally frisking young Black and Hispanic people,” Polanco said flatly.
It was an intense day for those in the court – which was packed by members of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and the Arab American Association of New York, a powerful community presence – because for many it confirmed the reality of stop and frisk as they and their neighbors have experienced it. Polanco was followed by a second whistleblower officer, Pedro Serrano, the majority of whose testimony the court will hear tomorrow. In the 40 minutes Serrano was in the stand, he described some of the retaliation he faced for speaking to the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau. In one instance, he returned to the precinct to find his locker had been emptied and its contents replaced by stickers of rodents. Serrrano’s testimony will continue tomorrow, and the Schoolcraft tapes we mentioned yesterday are also expected to be introduced.
Stay informed by texting: FLOYD to 877-877 & make sure to follow @changethenypd @theCCR #NYPDonTrial and #ChangetheNYPD
Floyd Day 2
Posted on 03/20/2013 @ 04:46 PM
3/19/13: Told to Make Stop-and-Frisk Numbers or become a pizza delivery man, officer testifies
Day 2 of the historic Floyd v. City of New York trial began with ongoing testimony from CCR witnesses who have been illegally stopped and frisked by the NYPD. These included Deon Dennis and Nicholas Peart.
Peart testified at length and was extensively and aggressively cross-examined by the city’s lawyer. He talked about numerous stops and their effect on him; about having the NYPD go through his pocket and then through his wallet; and about leaving the gym – the one thing he does for himself – and having the police stop him. He became teary-eyed at one point when recounting a stop during which the police went into his building with his keys and he was afraid for his younger siblings who were alone in the apartment, not sure what the police might do to them and unable to protect them in that moment. Peart has been the guardian of his three siblings since their mother’s death.
The city’s lawyer asked him if he felt like he lived in a high-crime neighborhood. “I don’t know,” Peart replied. “Compared to what?” He went on to observe that it seemed to him like the NYPD was in Harlem to protect rising housing values, not residents like him. Peart was followed by the first of CCR’s NYPD witnesses, a whistleblower officer named Adhyl Polanco. Polanco testified about his experience of numbers-driven mandates from his superior officers. The NYPD cares only about how many arrests, how many summons and how many UF 250s officers made, he said (the UF 250 is the form police fill out after a stop and frisk). Polanco reported that officers were expected to make certain numbers of stops, summons and arrests per month, that those numbers were non-negotiable, and that there were significant consequences for not making the numbers. The consequences ranged from being denied overtime, having one’s tour (shift) changed, or being subjected to performance monitoring. He testified that if an officer’s numbers were too low, a sergeant would ride with him or her and point out people on the street and order the officer to stop them – for no other reason than to log a certain number of stops.
One supervisor told Polanco that if he didn’t make his numbers, “you’ll become a pizza delivery man.” Community members packed the courtroom as on the first day, and New York Communities for Change and Voices of Community Activist and Leaders (VOCAL-NY) held a press conference in support. Press attention continued to be significant. Officer Polanco will continue his testimony tomorrow, and a second whistleblower officer, Pedro Serrano, is also expected to be on the witness stand. In addition, CCR plans to introduce as evidence some of the tapes made by Adrian Schoolcraft, the police officer that recorded hundreds of hours of precinct rolls calls, conversations with supervisors and street encounters, later given to the Village Voice. They reveal, among other things, pressure on officers to make stop-and-frisk quotas.
Floyd Day 1
Posted on 03/19/2013 @ 06:08 PM
Floyd Trial: Day 1
Please share indiscriminately: http://ccrjustice.org/floyd-trial-updates
Text: FLOYD to 877-877 to receive daily updates on the case.
3/18/13: Historic Trial Underway
The courtroom was packed and the overflow room was, well, overflowing. So much so that the court had to set up a second overflow room to accommodate the hundreds of New Yorkers who came down to the federal courthouse to see for themselves this day when the NYPD went on trial. “This trial is 14 years in the making,” said CCR’s Darius Charney, the lead attorney in the case, during his opening statement. “Plaintiffs are seeking at long last to hold the NYPD accountable” for years of illegal stops and frisks.
The morning consisted of each side’s opening argument. Charney laid out CCR’s case, giving an overview of how the stop-and-frisk program violates the Fourth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act. After that, two of the city’s lawyers presented their case.
At lunch, CCR Executive Director Vince Warren led off a press conference sponsored by the Communities United for Police Reform coalition that CCR is centrally involved in. Rev. Jesse Jackson, NYC Comptroller John Liu and a host of City Council members, including Jumaane Williams, Tish James, Robert Jackson, Melissa mark Viverito and Brad Lander, were also on hand to lend their support to this “historic” case – perhaps the most frequently repeated word of the day.
Back in court in the afternoon, CCR’s first two witnesses took the stand. Devin Almonor was 13 when you was stopped and cried when he was handcuffed. “I don’t want anyone else to go through this,” he told the court. David Floyd relayed his experience: “I felt frustrated, humiliated. It was on my own block, I wasn’t doing anything, I was just heading home.”
Floyd will be in the witness stand again in the morning, on cross examination. Deon Dennis and Nicholas Peart are both expected to testify about their experiences of being stopped. And two whistleblower officers, Adhyl Polanco and Pedro Serrano, are scheduled to testify to the existence of stop-and-frisk quotas.
Camera crews and reporters were on hand all day today, and the case has gotten significant media attention building up to this opening day. It was in today’s New York Times and on NPR’s Morning Edition, among more than a dozen other news stories. And if you didn’t see it last week, check out Vince Warren’s takedown of the NYPD’s talking points on MSNBC.com.
Human Chain for the DREAM
Posted on 03/18/2013 @ 11:41 PM
For the past two years, the New York State Youth Leadership Council, the only undocumented youth-led nonprofit in NY State has been advocating for the New York DREAM Act, a bill that would allow undocumented youth in NY to access financial aid for higher education purposes. One of the key people who can make the New York DREAM Act a reality is Governor Cuomo, who has the ability to include the bill in his executive budget which is being finalized next week. Right now, it seems that he is not convinced that including the NY DREAM Act in his budget is the right thing to do, so we need to be united and strong in our demand that he do the right thing and allow young, promising people in NY State to access financial aid.
We believe that the best way to get his attention is by holding a human chain around his midtown New York City office (633 Third Avenue) on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 from 1:00-1:30pm.
A human chain is a safe and effective way to show Governor Cuomo that we are united as advocates who believe that all people, regardless of their immigration status, have the right to go to college and realize their full potential. We intend to surround the block where his office is located and to do that, we really need everyone to join hands with us and make this final push. We have days now to get Governor Cuomo to realize that including the NY DREAM Act in the budget is the right thing to do and need to keep up the pressure now.
We know that this is very short notice, however, there is still time to act to convince Governor Cuomo that this is the right thing to do. Passing the NY DREAM Act would change the lives of thousands of young, promising people in NY who dream of going to college. Will you join us?
I've attached a flier to the event and the facebook link for the event is: https://www.facebook.com/events/374492959330564/
If you have any questions, please e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
All the best,
Razeen and the NYSYLC team
Take Action Thursday: New York DREAM Act
Posted on 03/14/2013 @ 10:23 AM
The New York State legislature and Governor Cuomo are currently in budget negations that are expected to end as soon as this Friday. The Assembly has included $25 million in its budget to fund the New York State DREAM Act, which would open up tuition assistance for higher education to undocumented youth.
The Senate did not include this amount in its budget bill, and Governor Cuomo has been silent on the DREAM Act since its introduction in 2011.
We need to urge the Governor and Senate Majority leader Dean Skelos to follow the Assembly’s lead and include the DREAM Act in the state budget so that all New Yorkers’ dreams of higher education can come true.
Now is the time for action!
Join the New York State DREAM Coalition to take action and tell Governor Cuomo:Your Silence is Killing our DREAMs! PUT THE DREAM ACT IN THE BUDGET!
There are many ways you can show support:Join us TOMORROW at a rally and press conference at Governor Cuomo's NYC Office
Thursday, March 14th
Governor Cuomo’s New York City Office
633 Third Avenue (between 40th and 41st Streets) NY, NY
Download flyer here.Take a minute to pick up the phone and CALL GOVERNOR CUOMO!
Please make this quick and important phone call: Governor Cuomo: (518)474-8390 option #2
SCRIPT FOR DREAM CALL:"Hi, my name is ______ and I live in ______. I'm calling to urge Governor Cuomo to include the New York DREAM Act, which opens up the Tuition Assistance Program to undocumented youth, in the final New York State budget this year."
Join us at the Next New York State DREAM Coalition Meeting
NYS DREAM Coalition Meeting
Thursday, March 14th 2013 6:00pm
32BJ 25 West 18th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues) NY, NY
Take Action on Social Media!
Sample FB post:
Governor Cuomo is killing our DREAMs. The New York State legislature and Governor Cuomo are currently in budget negations that are expected to end as soon as this Friday. The Assembly has included $25 million in its budget to fund the New York State DREAM Act, which would open up tuition assistance for higher education to undocumented youth. The Senate did not include this amount in its budget bill, and Governor Cuomo has been silent on the DREAM Act since its introduction in 2011. We need to urge the Governor and Senate Majority leader Dean Skelos to follow the Assembly’s lead and include the DREAM Act in the state budget so that all New Yorkers’ dreams of higher education can come true. Now is the time for action! Join us and let Cuomo know that his silence is killing our DREAMs.
Tweets to Send Out!
Your silence is killing our DREAMs @NYGovCuomo! Include the #NY DREAM Act #TAP in the final New York State budget this year. #NYSDreamAct
URGENT: call @NYGovCuomo (518-474-8390) @JeffKleinNY (518-455-3595) @SenatorSkelos (518-455-3171) to put #NYSDreamAct in the budget
TAKE ACTION: @NYGovCuomo @JeffKleinNY @SenatorSkelos put the #NYSDREAMact in the budget so all NY’ers dreams of higher education can come true.
TAKE ACTION: @NYGovCuomo @JeffKleinNY @SenatorSkelos put #NYSDREAMact in the budget so all NY’ers dreams of higher education can come true.
Reality is many #undocumented youth cant achieve higher-ed goals bc of #immigration status. @NYGovCuomo include #NYSDreamAct in Budget!
While the debate in DC drags on, #NY @NYGovCuomo @SenatorSkelos must take the lead & allow #DREAMers to fulfill their educational goals!
Take Action: Call & Tweet @NYGovCuomo (518-474-8390) & urge him to include #NYSDREAMAct in final #NYSBudget!
Take Action: Call & Tweet @SenatorSkelos (518-455-3171) & urge him to include #NYSDREAMAct in final #NYSBudget!
Take Action: Call & Tweet @JeffKleinNY (518-455-3595) & urge him to include #NYSDREAMAct in final #NYSBudget!
Take Action and help us tell @NYGovCuomo @JeffkleinNY @SenatorSkelos to include the #NYSDreamAct in the final #NYSBudget! Get involved http://ow.ly/iVca0
Take Action! Tell @NYGovCuomo @JeffkleinNY @SenatorSkelos to include the #NYSDreamAct in final #NYSBudget! Join us! http://ow.ly/iVca0
Vote for Jazmin Chavez Our NY Latina Rising Star
Posted on 03/14/2013 @ 12:58 AM
Vote for our 2013 40 Under 40 Latino Rising Star!
We are proud to announce that our communications and digital media coordinator, Jazmin Chavez, has been named one of New York's rising stars in the Latino community!
Every year The Hispanic Coalition of New York recognizes members of the Hispanic/Latino community under the age of 40 who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments and achievements in the areas of business, educations, politics, non-profit sector, community service, and more. The 40 Under 40 Rising Stars have demonstrated a quality of performance that indicates they are Leaders among their peers and will continue to develop into distinguished members in their community.
Jazmin has been a long time activist and advocate for her community and now, we need our community to help her win.
Here is what you can do to help:
- Visit the Hispanic Coalition of New York's website and VOTE for JAZMIN CHAVEZ.
- Send a Tweet to @HispCoalitionNY
with hashtag #2013LatinoStarNY then type Jazmin Chavez
Example: Hello @HispCoalitionNY my #2013LatinoStarNY vote is for @jazminchavez
- TEXT to #2013LatinoStaryNY Jazmin Chavez to 518-469-9161
- CALL 518-469-9161 and leave a message with the name of Jazmin Chavez.
Example: Hello, my vote is for the 2013 Latino Rising Star of New York is for Jazmin Chavez. Thank you.
- Visit the Hispanic Coalition of New York Facebook Page, POST on their wall and "LIKE" one of the posts about Jazmin Chavez.
We thank you for the support and we'll let you know if she wins! Fingers crossed, light a candle and VOTE!
NYPD on Trial: Floyd vs. City of New York
Posted on 03/14/2013 @ 12:24 AM
Starting on March 18, it will be the people of New York who will have their day in court and the NYPD that will be held accountable for its actions. The long-awaited trial challenging the constitutionality of the NYPD’s racially-discriminatory stop-and-frisk practices will take place in federal court in New York.
The class-action suit, Floyd v. City of New York, is brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who are illegally stopped each year by police officers as part of this longstanding, controversial practice.
The Floyd trial is at the center of what has become a citywide movement to end racially discriminatory policing and the siege of black and brown neighborhoods by the NYPD.
That movement began in response to the horrific 1997 shooting of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed black man standing in the doorway of his own apartment who was mowed down in a hail of 41 NYPD bullets. Part of that response was CCR’s landmark case Daniels v. City of New York, filed in 1999 and settled in 2003. Daniels led to the disbanding of the infamous NYPD Street Crimes Unit.
It also required the city to provide quarterly stop-and-frisk data to CCR, which led to the development of the Floyd case when it became clear the City was not abiding by the settlement and that the number of unconstitutional stops had grown exponentially.
Floyd brings full circle the movement that began in 1997, when thousands of New Yorkers took to the streets chanting “it’s a wallet, not a gun” – a reference to Diallo’s fatal attempt to show police his ID and an encapsulation of all that is wrong about the racially biased practices of the NYPD.
Help us pack the courtroom on March 18 for the start of this historic trial!
Follow this link for additional details: http://ccrjustice.org/floydtrial
Check out CCR's stop and frisk website to learn more about the human impact of discriminatory policing: http://stopandfrisk.org/
Learn more about the lawsuit at: http://www.ccrjustice.org/floyd
Follow us along on Twitter and join the conversation with #ChangetheNYPD #NYPDonTrial.
SEPA Mujer Women Rights Day
Posted on 03/07/2013 @ 06:11 PM
Support SEPA Mujer on International Women'sDay
New York DREAM Act Lobby Day
Posted on 03/05/2013 @ 12:18 PM
The New York DREAMers and New York State Youth Leadership Council is in Albany today lobbying for the New York DREAM Act and they could use our help. Don't worry if you couldn't make it today because there is something that you can do to support their efforts at home.
SHOW Your Support For The New York DREAM Act.
Take a picture with a poster saying any of the following:
"I support the NY Dream Act"
"I support state financial aid for ALL."
SHARE it with your social networks and use hashtag #IloveNYDA, #undocumented, tweet @NYSYLC.
TWEET THIS & Attach your picture:
"I support state financial aid for ALL, will you @GovCuomo? #IloveNYDA #undocumented @NYSYLC"
"I support the New York DREAM Act and I urge you to support it too @SenatorSkelos #undocumented #IloveNYDA @NYSYLC!"
"We need you @JeffKleinNY to support Financial Aid for all in New York! Support the New York DREAM Act! #IloveNYDA #undocumented @nysylc"
Call These Legislators
Senator Dean Skelos (R)- 9th district- Albany office: 518-455-3171
Senator Jeffrey D. Klein (D)- 34th district- Albany office: 518-455-3595
Governor Cuomo- Albany office: 518-474-8390
"Hello, my name is_____. I am calling to ask for your support to pass state financial aid for all New York youth. Undocumented youth deserve a chance to continue their higher education dreams. TAP into the future!. Thanks."
Meet Our 2013 Spring Interns
Posted on 03/01/2013 @ 04:15 PM
Each semester we have a great group of legal interns that assist the Legal Department. This year, we have another great group and we want to introduce them to you! We asked them some tough questions but they all made it through our intense questioning process!
Say hello to our LJP Spring interns!
Christine G. Ortiz is a third-year law student at City University of New York School of Law. Currently, Ms. Ortiz serves as the Executive Article Editor of the City University of New York Law Review, Co-Chair of the Metropolitan Latin American Law Students Association and Vice Chair of the National Latina/o Law Students Association.
Ms. Ortiz received her B.A. from Columbia College, Columbia University in the City of New York, with a double major in Latino Studies and International Law. While at Columbia, Ms. Ortiz organized and lead numerous student groups aimed at promoting the Latino community through outreach, community service, and awareness programming. At graduation, Ms. Ortiz was recognized as a Columbia College Senior Marshall, an honor bestowed upon graduating undergraduate students who have excelled in their academic and extracurricular activities at Columbia.
Ms. Ortiz spent the summer of 2012 as a legal intern at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights in Washington, D.C. doing policy work, lobbying on Capitol Hill and writing international briefs on Human Rights Violations in Mexico. Ms. Ortiz spent the latter part of the summer with THINK, Inc. in Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa, working on Sexual/Gender-Based-Violence advocacy for ex-child combatants.
Currently, Ms. Ortiz is a student-attorney in the International Womens Human Rights Clinic working on the Human Trafficking Team. As part of this work, Ms. Ortiz is representing a client seeking post-conviction relief in NY State Court and engaging in advocacy before the UN Human Rights Committee as part of the USs upcoming review for its compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to encourage legislative efforts to address and prevent the re-victimization of trafficking victims by the criminal justice system. Concurrently, Ms. Ortiz has been a legal intern at LatinoJustice/PRLDEF since Fall 2012.
Iris Ventura is a first year law student at Seton Hall Law School. Her work focuses on International Law (refugees, immigration). Prior to going to law school, Ms. Ventura taught in Washington Heights for 7 years and has a Masters in Education
Celina Caban, a second year law student at CUNY School of Law, was born and raised in the Bronx. As a A Better Chance (ABC) Scholar, she received an academic scholarship to attend the Chapin School, a college-preparatory, all-girls school. She went to Barnard College where she majored in Economic History, minored in Latin American Studies, and wrote her Senior Thesis on US Hispanic Consumption and Purchasing Power. In addition, she had the opportunity to study abroad in Brazil and Chile, and has held a number of leadership roles, including the 2006 Barnard Chair of Latino Heritage Month and Treasurer of Accion Boricua. For her contributions to Barnard, she was awarded the 2006 Student Leadership Award, 2007 Hispanic Scholarship Fund Award, and was chosen to deliver the 2008 Senior Reflection for Columbia University’s Latino Graduation. Before law school she worked as a paralegal with her father, Osvaldo Caban, CUNY Class of 1987, and at Health Plus HMO as a bilingual member representative. An active law student, Celina is on the board of LALSA, competing in the 2013 Hispanic National Board Association (HNBA) Moot Court Competition, previously coached by Professor Rivera, and is a staff member of CUNY’s Law Review. This past summer she had the honor of working with U.S. Magistrate Ronald Ellis and Natasha Bannan, CUNY Class of 2011; she was fortunate to receive the 2012 Puerto Rican Bar Association (PRBA) Student Scholarship to fund her work. Celina credits all of her growth and success to her close-knit Puerto Rican family, including her parents and younger sisters, Alexa, Chapin Class of 2015, and Bianca, Harvard Class of 2009.
Colleen Normile is in her final semester at the City University of New York School of Law. She’s currently in the Community & Economic Development Clinic, representing three restaurant workers who suffered years of wage theft at the hands of their employer. During law school, she was a Peggy Browning Fellow at the Workplace Project and spent a summer at the New York State Department of Labor. Before coming to law school, she was a paralegal at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, PA, helping to defend low-income homeowners against foreclosure and predatory lending. She also worked with the Fair Food Farmstand in Philadelphia which supported small farms in the region and volunteered at a low-income tax site designed to assist immigrant workers. She’s a 2006 graduate of Vassar College where she majored in Political Science.
Get to know Colleen: Where are you from? (Brooklyn, Colorado, Mexico, Panama?) Glenside, Pennsylvania
Why did you want to intern at LJP? I’m really inspired by LatinoJustice’s work, and had great interactions with current and former staff. I met Elizabeth Joynes while interning at the Workplace Project and studied Property under Jenny Rivera. I felt I needed to work with an organization that was full of so many great people!
Why do you want to be a lawyer? I’ve always wanted to engage in social justice work – I come from a middle class family, but can remember being troubled by the gross inequalities in our society even as a young child. I decided to pursue a legal career specifically after having worked in civil legal services and seeing how a lawyer could really shift the balance of power in a range of situations.
What is your favorite food to make? (Beware that we might make you cook it for us ) Grilled cheese sandwiches! They are so quick and yummy; they are my favorite comfort food!
What is a hidden talent? I cut hair.
What is your motto? Express yourself!
Mets or the Yankees? Phillies!
I am currently a senior at Fordham University with a double major in Political Science and Theology.
Where are you from? I was born in Lima, Peru and grew up in Long Island.
Why did you want to intern at LJP?I was very interested in interning at LJP because I have attended a few of their programs for undergraduates and thought it would be an amazing place to gain some experience.
Why do you want to be a lawyer? I have wanted to be a lawyer for as long as I can remember, probably because of my interest in government and politics.
What is your favorite food to make? When I am not studying or getting involved on campus I love to bake! My favorite thing to make is red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and most people do not know that I am really good at decorating cakes and cupcakes.
Mets or Yankees? As for baseball, I am not a Mets fan or a Yankees fan! I think baseball is the most boring sport to watch and am absolutely a football lover.
VAWA Needs OUR Help
Posted on 02/27/2013 @ 09:17 PM
Our friends at The National Immigration Project at the National Lawyers Guild haves asked us for our help and we need you to help us ensure the rights of thousands of people with VAWA (Violence Against Women Act).
On THURSDAY, February 28th, the vote on the actual bill will occur. We want them to vote NO on the House substitute bill and YES on the Senate version of VAWA.
Your Congress Members are listening to you! We only have a few hours to act so please call today and tomorrow morning. Members must hear loud and clear that they need to pass the bipartisan Senate version of VAWA! Your work has gotten us this far – let’s get this done!
URGENT ACTION ITEM:
Tweet the following Congress Members:
- . @RepRichardHanna: On 2/28 vote NO on the House substitute bill and then vote YES on the bipartisan Senate version of S. 47. #VAWA
- . @RepMichaelGrimm: On 2/28 vote NO on the House substitute bill and then vote YES on the bipartisan Senate version of S. 47. #VAWA
- . @AERingel: On 2/28 vote NO on the House substitute bill and then vote YES on the bipartisan Senate version of S. 47. #VAWA
- . @RepChrisGibson: On 2/28 vote NO on the House substitute bill and then vote YES on the bipartisan Senate version of S. 47. #VAWA
- . @RepPeteKing: On 2/28 vote NO on the House substitute bill and then vote YES on the bipartisan Senate version of S. 47. #VAWA
- . @RepTomReed: On 2/28 vote NO on the House substitute bill and then vote YES on the bipartisan Senate version of S. 47. #VAWA
If you want to CALL your Congress Member:
To reach your Congress Member, call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or look them up here http://www.house.gov/representatives/. When you’re connected to their offices, ask to speak to the staff person who handles VAWA.
I am a constituent from (city and state) and my name is _________. I’m calling about the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). I urge Congress Member ________ to vote NO on the House substitute bill and then vote YES on the bipartisan Senate version of S. 47. VAWA can and must protect all victims.
For more information, fact sheets, press coverage, support letters and updates: www.4vawa.org.
Follow @NTFVAWA on Twitter. Please tweet about VAWA using the #ReauthorizeVAWA, #RealVAWA and #VAWA and share!
For more info, go to www.4vawa.org
White House Fact Sheet: Immigration Reform
Posted on 01/29/2013 @ 03:29 PM
FACT SHEET from White House: Fixing our Broken Immigration System so Everyone Plays by the Rules
The key principles the President believes should be included in commonsense immigration reform are:
Continuing to Strengthen Border Security: President Obama has doubled the number of Border Patrol agents since 2004 and today border security is stronger than it has ever been. But there is more work to do. The President’s proposal gives law enforcement the tools they need to make our communities safer from crime. And by enhancing our infrastructure and technology, the President’s proposal continues to strengthen our ability to remove criminals and apprehend and prosecute national security threats.
- Cracking Down on Employers Hiring Undocumented Workers: Our businesses should only employ people legally authorized to work in the United States. Businesses that knowingly employ undocumented workers are exploiting the system to gain an advantage over businesses that play by the rules. The President’s proposal is designed to stop these unfair hiring practices and hold these companies accountable. At the same time, this proposal gives employers who want to play by the rules a reliable way to verify that their employees are here legally.
- Earned Citizenship: It is just not practical to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants living within our borders. The President’s proposal provides undocumented immigrants a legal way to earn citizenship that will encourage them to come out of the shadows so they can pay their taxes and play by the same rules as everyone else. Immigrants living here illegally must be held responsible for their actions by passing national security and criminal background checks, paying taxes and a penalty, going to the back of the line, and learning English before they can earn their citizenship. There will be no uncertainty about their ability to become U.S. citizens if they meet these eligibility criteria. The proposal will also stop punishing innocent young people brought to the country through no fault of their own by their parents and give them a chance to earn their citizenship more quickly if they serve in the military or pursue higher education.
- Streamlining Legal Immigration: Our immigration system should reward anyone who is willing to work hard and play by the rules. For the sake of our economy and our security, legal immigration should be simple and efficient. The President’s proposal attracts the best minds to America by providing visas to foreign entrepreneurs looking to start businesses here and helping the most promising foreign graduate students in science and math stay in this country after graduation, rather than take their skills to other countries. The President’s proposal will also reunify families in a timely and humane manner.
Continuing to Strengthen Border Security
- Strengthen border security and infrastructure. The President’s proposal strengthens and improves infrastructure at ports of entry, facilitates public-private partnerships aimed at increasing investment in foreign visitor processing, and continues supporting the use of technologies that help to secure the land and maritime borders of the United States.
- Combat transnational crime. The President’s proposal creates new criminal penalties dedicated to combating transnational criminal organizations that traffic in drugs, weapons, and money, and that smuggle people across the borders. It also expands the scope of current law to allow for the forfeiture of these organizations’ criminal tools and proceeds. Through this approach, we will bolster our efforts to deprive criminal enterprises, including those operating along the Southwest border, of their infrastructure and profits.
- Improve partnerships with border communities and law enforcement. The President’s proposal expands our ability to work with our cross-border law enforcement partners. Community trust and cooperation are keys to effective law enforcement. To this end, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will establish border community liaisons along the Southern and Northern borders to improve communication and collaboration with border communities, boost funding to tribal government partners to reduce illegal activity on tribal lands, and strengthen training on civil rights and civil liberties for DHS immigration officers.
- Crack down on criminal networks engaging in passport and visa fraud and human smuggling. The President’s proposal creates tough criminal penalties for trafficking in passports and immigration documents and schemes to defraud, including those who prey on vulnerable immigrants through notario fraud. It also strengthens penalties to combat human smuggling rings.
- Deporting Criminals. The President’s proposal expands smart enforcement efforts that target convicted criminals in federal or state correctional facilities, allowing us to remove them from the United States at the end of their sentences without re-entering our communities. At the same time, it protects those with a credible fear of returning to their home countries.
- Streamline removal of nonimmigrant national security and public safety threats. The President’s proposal creates a streamlined administrative removal process for people who overstay their visas and have been determined to be threats to national security and public safety.
- Improve our nation’s immigration courts. The President’s proposal invests in our immigration courts. By increasing the number of immigration judges and their staff, investing in training for court personnel, and improving access to legal information for immigrants, these reforms will improve court efficiency. It allows DHS to better focus its detention resources on public safety and national security threats by expanding alternatives to detention and reducing overall detention costs. It also provides greater protections for those least able to represent themselves.
Cracking Down on Employers Who Hire Undocumented Workers
- Mandatory, phased-in electronic employment verification. The President’s proposal provides tools for employers to ensure a legal workforce by using federal government databases to verify that the people they hire are eligible to work in the United States. Penalties for hiring undocumented workers are significantly increased, and new penalties are established for committing fraud and identity theft. The new mandatory program ensures the privacy and confidentiality of all workers’ personal information and includes important procedural protections. Mandatory electronic employment verification would be phased in over five years with exemptions for certain small businesses.
- Combat fraud and identity theft. The proposal also mandates a fraud-resistant, tamper-resistant Social Security card and requires workers to use fraud-and tamper-resistant documents to prove authorization to work in the United States. The proposal also seeks to establish a voluntary pilot program to evaluate new methods to authenticate identity and combat identity theft.
Protections for all workers. The President’s proposal protects workers against retaliation for exercising their labor rights. It increases the penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers to skirt the workplace standards that protect all workers. And it creates a “labor law enforcement fund” to help ensure that industries that employ significant numbers of immigrant workers comply with labor laws.
Pathway to Earned Citizenship
- Create a provisional legal status. Undocumented immigrants must come forward and register, submit biometric data, pass criminal background and national security checks, and pay fees and penalties before they will be eligible for a provisional legal status. Agricultural workers and those who entered the United States as children would be eligible for the same program. Individuals must wait until the existing legal immigration backlogs are cleared before getting in line to apply for lawful permanent residency (i.e. a “green card”), and ultimately United States citizenship. Consistent with current law, people with provisional legal status will not be eligible for welfare or other federal benefits, including subsidies or tax credits under the new health care law.
- Create strict requirements to qualify for lawful permanent resident status. Those applying for green cards must pay their taxes, pass additional criminal background and national security checks, register for Selective Service (where applicable), pay additional fees and penalties, and learn English and U.S. civics. As under current law, five years after receiving a green card, individuals will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship like every other legal permanent resident.
- Earned citizenship for DREAMers. Children brought here illegally through no fault of their own by their parents will be eligible for earned citizenship. By going to college or serving honorably in the Armed Forces for at least two years, these children should be given an expedited opportunity to earn their citizenship. The President’s proposal brings these undocumented immigrants out of the shadows.
- Create administrative and judicial review. An individual whose provisional lawful status has been revoked or denied, or whose application for adjustment has been denied, will have the opportunity to seek administrative and judicial review of those decisions.
- Provide new resources to combat fraud. The President’s proposal authorizes funding to enable DHS, the Department of State, and other relevant federal agencies to establish fraud prevention programs that will provide training for adjudicators, allow regular audits of applications to identify patterns of fraud and abuse, and incorporate other proven fraud prevention measures.
Streamlining Legal Immigration
- Keep Families Together. The proposal seeks to eliminate existing backlogs in the family-sponsored immigration system by recapturing unused visas and temporarily increasing annual visa numbers. The proposal also raises existing annual country caps from 7 percent to 15 percent for the family-sponsored immigration system. It also treats same-sex families as families by giving U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to seek a visa on the basis of a permanent relationship with a same-sex partner. The proposal also revises current unlawful presence bars and provides broader discretion to waive bars in cases of hardship.
- Cut Red Tape for Employers. The proposal also eliminates the backlog for employment-sponsored immigration by eliminating annual country caps and adding additional visas to the system. Outdated legal immigration programs are reformed to meet current and future demands by exempting certain categories from annual visa limitations.
- Enhance travel and tourism. The Administration is committed to increasing U.S. travel and tourism by facilitating legitimate travel while maintaining our nation’s security. Consistent with the President’s Executive Order on travel and tourism, the President’s proposal securely streamlines visa and foreign visitor processing. It also strengthens law enforcement cooperation while maintaining the program’s robust counterterrorism and criminal information sharing initiatives. It facilitates more efficient travel by allowing greater flexibility to designate countries for participation in the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of designated countries to visit the United States without obtaining a visa. And finally it permits the State Department to waive interview requirements for certain very low-risk visa applicants, permitting resources to be focused on higher risk applicants and creates a pilot for premium visa processing.
- Staple” green cards to advanced STEM diplomas. The proposal encourages foreign graduate students educated in the United States to stay here and contribute to our economy by “stapling” a green card to the diplomas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) PhD and Master’s Degree graduates from qualified U.S. universities who have found employment in the United States. It also requires employers to pay a fee that will support education and training to grow the next generation of American workers in STEM careers.
- Create a “startup visa” for job-creating entrepreneurs. The proposal allows foreign entrepreneurs who attract financing from U.S. investors or revenue from U.S. customers to start and grow their businesses in the United States, and to remain permanently if their companies grow further, create jobs for American workers, and strengthen our economy.
- Expand opportunities for investor visas and U.S. economic development. The proposal permanently authorizes immigrant visa opportunities for regional center (pooled investment) programs; provides incentives for visa requestors to invest in programs that support national priorities, including economic development in rural and economically depressed regions ; adds new measures to combat fraud and national security threats; includes data collection on economic impact; and creates a pilot program for state and local government officials to promote economic development.
- Create a new visa category for employees of federal national security science and technology laboratories. The proposal creates a new visa category for a limited number of highly-skilled and specialized immigrants to work in federal science and technology laboratories on critical national security needs after being in the United States. for two years and passing rigorous national security and criminal background checks.
- Better addresses humanitarian concerns. The proposal streamlines immigration law to better protect vulnerable immigrants, including those who are victims of crime and domestic violence. It also better protects those fleeing persecution by eliminating the existing limitations that prevent qualified individuals from applying for asylum.
- Encourage integration. The proposal promotes earned citizenship and efforts to integrate immigrants into their new American communities linguistically, civically, and economically.
Original Post can be found here on AJC.