The Long Island DREAM Coalition:
As Election Day gets closer and closer, many immigrants and our allies are crossing our fingers. The stakes are certainly high this year, and Jack Martins-, current senator for the 7th senatorial district and candidate for the 3rd congressional district on Long Island- is well aware of how important this election is to the immigrant community. In Alexandre Soares’ piece “For Republican Jack Martins, an Immigrant Story Worth Telling” Martin’s aligns himself with the immigrant community- as the son of immigrants, someone with strong ties to the Portuguese community in Mineola, and as someone who shares immigrant values. Martin’s states, “ I think personal initiative has always been part of the American dream, and of the immigrant’s’ journey as well. That you allow anyone who comes from anywhere to set his priorities on education, hard work, and to succeed – it’s an issue fundamental to the Republican Party.”
However, his voting record shows opposition to educational initiatives for the immigrant community. Senator Martin’s district includes Westbury High School, Mineola High School, and Port Washington High school, all schools with a large populations of immigrant students. Despite his responsibility to represent the best interest for these students, Senator Martins voted against the NY DREAM Act in 2014 when it was brought to the floor. If passed, this legislation would have allowed all students, regardless of immigration status, who have graduated from a New York high school to be eligible for financial aid for higher education. It failed by two votes.
In 2015, after Governor Cuomo added the NY DREAM Act to the state budget, Senator Martin’s further voiced his opposition to the New York DREAM Act, stating” how can we justify providing additional college benefits to illegal, non taxpaying persons when a full 70% of legal New York college students do not qualify for it themselves?”
This statement is not only factually inaccurate, immigrants do pay taxes and the New York DREAM Act does not take away financial aid from citizens, but it serves to reinforce the current anti-immigrant climate by perpetuating the myth that immigrants are stealing opportunities from US citizens. Martin’s has also contributed to this anti-immigrant climate by co-sponsoring Senate Bill S6032b, a legislation that would take away funding from local police departments that have a non-cooperation policy with Immigration Enforcement.
On Long Island, the immigrant community has been fighting an uphill battle- limited amount of non profit legal service providers, limited funding for programs for refugee central american children, ICE presence separating our families, and resistance form our Long Island senators to support the NY DREAM Act. We wish we could have an ally to immigrants, someone who shares our values, representing us. Senator Martins has not only been unavailable to meet with us for the past two years, but has actively opposed initiatives that would make education more accessible to the immigrant community.
The 3rd congressional district has a large and growing immigrant community in Eastern Queens, Hicksville, Huntington and Glen Cove. Their support will be crucial in the congressional elections. As such, it is important for candidates not only to bond with their constituents over shared values, but also to honor those values in Albany.
The road to fairness for farmworkers starts in Suffolk County.
“Farmworkers are the most important workers in every country because they’re the ones producing the food for the country.”
This May 15 through June 1, a coalition of farmworkers and allies in New York is marching to draw attention to the unequal standing of farmworkers under labor law. While workers in all industries currently face more barriers than ever in realizing their labor rights, farmworkers have less recourse under the law. In the 1930s when the Fair Labor Standards Act passed into Law, farmworkers and domestic workers were left behind. Their exclusion was not an accident. Senators and Congressmen, mostly Democrats from the South, spoke openly on the floor about not wanting the two industries primarily composed of the children and grandchildren of slaves to have the same rights as white workers. To this day, the majority of states have not passed laws to remove exclusions, which include the rights for overtime pay, a day of rest, and collective bargaining.
“The owners of the farm are the landlords — the owners of the housing,” Boris Martinez, a farmworker from a nursery in Patchogue, said through translator Katia Chapman in a phone interview Tuesday. Martinez is from El Salvador and has worked at the nursery for about two years, he said. “The owners only care that the housing is okay when inspection is going to come. They don’t care what state the housing is in, what condition the housing is in. It’s most likely that there will be at least 10 people living there.”
“None of the workers are paid overtime pay. None of us have health insurance and if we get sick we don’t have the resources to pay for basic medical care. I know a lot of other workers in the area and none of them are paid overtime pay. Many of us don’t have a day of rest either. I’m right now working about 60 hours a week but when the weather warms up I’ll probably be working 67 or 68 hours.”
“Those in power, they don’t care how we’re doing as workers, what they care about is the money that we’re producing for them.”
“I’m participating in the march because even though, as I said, I like my job, I also see my friends, my companions that they are not always treated well,” Jose Ventura, a farmworker from Guatemala, said in a phone interview Tuesday through Chapman as a translator. “On their farms they’re not always paid fairly. There’s a lot of Guatemalan farmworkers and some of them are mistreated in the job and while I feel that this march is for the benefit of my people, therefore I feel motivated to be a part of the movement.”
Verizon workers are taking a stand to make sure the needs of working families are met, instead of standing by as a handful of individuals get richer and richer. They’re fighting to stop the company from sending jobs overseas and to get Verizon to end its continued intimidation of working people at Verizon Wireless who are trying to create a better future for themselves and their families.
Providing Support-CWA/IBEW On Strike
Verizon has averaged made $1.8 billion a month in profits over the first three months of 2016– and $39 billion over the last three years. This greedy corporation is still insisting on givebacks that would devastate decent jobs for 39,000 working people up and down the east coast, a portion of which are your brothers and sister here on Long Island.
The company wants to gut job security protections, contract out more work, do away with local call centers and offshore the jobs to Mexico and the Philippines. If the Unions don’t accept all of these changes, they will require technicians to work away from home for as long as two months at a time, anywhere in the Verizon footprint, without seeing their families. Verizon has remained immovable and has ultimately attempted to get the unions to negotiate against themselves, which they will not do.
To learn more about this strike and the unions involved follow the links below:
To learn more about how you can join striking workers, contact Aaron Watkins-Lopez at email@example.com
If you can’t make it to a picket line, please remember to sign the petition.
Press Release Press Contact:
Touro-Based Student and Advocacy Organization Urge Senator Flanagan to Support NY DREAM Act
Central Islip, NY. Soon after Governor Cuomo announced the inclusion of the New York DREAM Act into the state budget, seven organization at Touro Law School signed on to a letter urging Senator Flanagan to support the NY DREAM Act.
“I am happy to have Touro Law Students supporting this effort because it teaches them the importance of community advocacy in making a difference in the lives of others.” said Tom Maligno of the Public Advocacy Center
The New York DREAM Act would allow undocumented children who graduate from New York State high schools to access state-funded financial aid alongside their peers. Senator Flanagan, as Senate Majority Leader, will be joining Governor Cuomo and House Speaker Heastie in decidING the New York State Budget for this year. The New York Civil Liberties Union, Tom Maligno from the Public Advocacy Center, Empire Justice, the Empowerment Collaborative, the Latin American Law Student’s Association, The Immigration Law Society, and Long Island Language Advocates Coalition have all signed the letter urging Senator Flanagan to support the New York DREAM Act.
The letter to the Senator states, “As part of the Touro Law Center, we stand with our founder’s commitment to social justice. You are in a position to help make history by eliminating the rules that stratify educational access in our region. As a Touro Alumni, we urge you to support the NY DREAM Act, so that New York can join states like Texas, New Mexico, and California, in allowing equal educational opportunity to all children.”
Long Island currently holds 22% of the political power in New York State making support from Senator Flanagan is crucial to the passing of the bill.
“It is imperative to come out and support the NYDA right now since the bill has once again landed in the draft budget, but this time without being tied to anything. Long Island Senators have been opposed to this bill for five years claiming that their “constituents do not want the NYDA”, but today we join together at Touro Law to counter that argument. Professors, faculty, staff, students, advocates and non-profit organizations based at Touro have come together to publicly voice their support for the NYDA. We cannot let another year slip by without allowing all students, regardless of status, to access financial aid for higher education.”, said Laura Lemus of Long Island Wins
The New York DREAM Act would allot 27 million dollars for the TAP budget and would impact thousands of youth across New York State.
“”We believe that all young people in this country, regardless of citizenship, should have access to the tools provided by a quality education. ECLI passionately supports The Dream Act and its role in breaking the cycle of poverty in New York State.” said Feride Castillo, co-founder of the Empowerment Collaborative
“We are urging Senator Flanagan to help New York make history, and allow all students living in New York state equal access to education.” said Victoria Daza, organizer of Long Island Jobs with Justice.
The New York DREAM Act would cost 87 cents per median taxpayer if added to the New York State budget. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the undocumented workforce has contributed over 1 million dollars in state and local taxes.
“Having access to a college education is essential to the future of our young people. The NY DREAM Act will help immigrant youth gain the skills, knowledge and experience they need to contribute to our society and our economy. We urge Majority Leader Flanagan to support this initiative.” said Cheryl Keshner of the Empire Justice Center.
New York State has the 2nd highest immigrant population in United State. California, whose population surpasses New York’s, already has a version of the NY DREAM Act.
“What is the United States but a land of opportunity? This country has been a haven for those who have suffered in their homelands and those who are seeking a place where they can grow and give back to make this country greater. The passing of the NY Dream Act gives thousands of young minds the opportunity to make their dreams a reality. It makes this country greater by nurturing these young minds who are willing to push this nation forward and advance progress.”said Jose Rojas of the Latin American Law Students Association
Talking Points for Unions, Advocates and Community Members
- The immigration system is not broken; it is doing exactly what it was intended to do:
- Immigrants are among the most frequently and easily abused population of the total labor force. Many work 12-16 hours days with no overtime, and are often the target of robberies. In some cases, employers have adapted to using the illegal status of their employees as leverage against complaints. These workers are left without a voice and have no choice but to accept their potentially illegal working conditions. During the ICE raids in Postville, Iowa, in 2009, many of the workers (most who were mothers) stated that their employers threatened to call ICE on them if they do not perform sexual sexual acts on them. We cannot allow these atrocities to happen on Long Island.
- By leaving these workers option less, there is a precedent set for employers, leading them to falsely believe they may overlook their legal requirements to fulfill the rights of their workers.The current ICE raids, and the possibility of being a target for deportation, will allow bad employers to exploit immigrant workers even more. By having legislation that protects ALL workers, and holds bad employers accountable, we can stop the practice of using immigrants as exploitable cheap labor.
- By allowing employers to threaten their illegal employees with deportation through ICE reports, workers rights across the board are cheapened, as these employees have just as many rights as any other employee in the workforce. Ignoring them in their time of need undoubtedly sets a tone that carries over to all workers in the long run.
- The immigrant workforce has acted as first responders during tragedies and emergencies in recent years. When they came to our aid, we did not ask them for identification or to prove their citizenship. We cannot turn our backs now.
- During the tragedy of 9/11, thousands of illegal immigrants answered the call of being a first responder. Many funds have been raised to aid in the healthcare of first responders who suffered negative health effects from working in those toxic environments, however, almost none of which extend to the population of undocumented workers who were at Ground Zero, despite there being a surplus of donation money. These workers wore little to no protective gear and in some cases spoke little to no English.
- Here on Long Island, undocumented day laborers became an integral part of rebuilding communities across the island after Hurricane Sandy. Many assisted in removing mold, asbestos, and debris from homes along the south shore, putting their own health on the line.They proved themselves to be reliable and relevant members of the community.
- Immigrant Workforce Contributes to the Economy
- According to research reports done by David Kallic of Hofstra University, from 1990 to 2007, the immigrant population of Long Island rose from 11% to 16%. In that time, their share of the labor force has gone up from 12% to 21% and they account for $26.6 billion of the total $151 billion in the total economic output of 2007. The gross domestic product rose by 36% in that time, and just over a third of that growth is thanks to our growing population of immigrants.
- In a report completed by the Hagedorn Foundation, it was found that immigrants paid an estimated $2.13 billion in taxes in 2006. Factoring in the costs of their housing, education, healthcare, and corrections, there is still $1.07 billion in net profit. These factors out roughly to about $2,305 per resident.
- With these numbers in mind, it’s clear that the immigrant population manages to pull their own weight and then some. They contribute positively to the economy. After the raids that happened across the country this year,many parents feared picking their children up from school and many breadwinners feared leaving their homes to go to work. This has had a great financial impact on each individual family unit impacted as well as our economy as a whole.
- Limiting Discourse on Immigration to only including families leaves out workers, LGBT folks, and other groups of people fleeing persecution
- While the Obama administration has created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, as well as has taken many initiatives to assist unaccompanied children in fleeing gang violence from Central America, the focus on families has left out workers, particularly working men, LGBT folks, and other groups who are also fleeing violence. Everyone has a right to flee violence. According tot he Department of Homeland Security’s standard, unlawful re-entry is a crime, having multiple violations, disorderly conduct, bounced checks, unpaid tickets, are all crimes. These offenses unfortunately are often rooted in poverty, being unable to legally work, or homelessness. We must include workers, day laborers, LGBT folks, and everyone fleeing violence in our vision if immigration reform.
Long Island DREAM Act Coalition Statement on NYDA in the 2016 Budget
The Long Island DREAM Act Coalition would like to commend Governor Cuomo for adding the New York DREAM Act into the 2016 draft budget. The New York State DREAM Act provides tuition assistance to undocumented students, a benefit already available in Texas, California and New Mexico. As a coalition made up of DREAMers, educators, and union members, we are also pleased to see that this year’s inclusion of the New York DREAM Act is as a stand alone bill.
However, more needs to be done. Each year that the New York DREAM Act fails pass in the final budget, thousands of students will continue to watch their peers go to the college of their choice while they face overwhelming financial barriers to achieve the same goals. As the leader of the state with 2nd highest immigrant population, we expect Governor Cuomo to show his commitment to passing the DREAM Act, and to show this is indeed genuine through his voice, and actions in the upcoming months.
According to the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC), the cost of extending eligibility for State financial aid to undocumented students is less than two percent of the total TAP budget – a small price to pay for giving more than 8,000 undocumented students a chance to go to college, graduate and continue contributing to the betterment of our state.
The Fiscal Policy Institute found that the New York State DREAM Act will cost typical taxpayers less than the price of a doughnut, and that the tax revenue alone generated by undocumented immigrants would cover more than the increase in TAP costs. According to the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy, the state earned more than $662 million in revenue from undocumented immigrants in 2010, proving that undocumented immigrants truly are an important source of economic growth for the state.
We remind Governor Cuomo that the NY DREAM Act is not only a smart investment, but that education is a human right and no student should be marginalized because he or she is unable to obtain economic opportunity for higher education.
Governor Cuomo, we urge you follow through on your commitment and include the NY DREAM Act in the final 2016 budget come April.
The Long island DREAM Act Coalition