State Senator Michael Gianaris (Astoria, LIC, Sunnyside) has joined in the call to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, a position popularized by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ stunning primary victory against Rep. Joe Crowley. Last Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on WNYC Radio, “Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is right” and, “We should create something better.” U.S. senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren have also joined in the call.
Gianaris called for abolishing ICE at a rally for Yeni Maricela Gonzalez Garcia, a Guatemalan mother who crossed the country to reunite with her three children in East Harlem. “This was an agency that was created after 9-11 to combat terrorism,” Gianaris said in Long Island City. “Not to separate women from their children… We should abolish ICE immediately and then we should abolish Donald Trump at the ballot box as soon as we can.” (See video here w/ ICE remarks at 1:05.) State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas was there too. Continue reading “State Sen. Gianaris joins in call to abolish ICE”
Sometimes I wonder if Astoria (not Jackson Heights) is actually the most diverse neighborhood in the United States. In any case, it’s diverse for sure and has a lot of immigrants. And maybe that makes State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas suited for fighting the U.S. Commerce Department’s decision to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.
In a letter to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Simotas writes:
“As a representative of a diverse community in New York that is home to a large population of immigrants, I am deeply concerned that a citizenship question would deter many of my constituents from participating in the census and prevent them from receiving critically needed resources over the next decade.”
I’m not sure where other Queens lawmakers are on this. Mayor Bill Bill de Blasio and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman protested the concept in February. Googling the World’s Borough on the issue, I found a quote from Queens College professor Andrew Beveridge, who told the Washington Post the citizenship question would shift representation to Republican districts. “All of the districts with non-citizens in them and all of the districts with kids in them would have less representation.”
Simotas argues in her letter that most people in her district live in “hard-to-count” neighborhoods and only 68.4% of households returned their questionnaires for the 2010 census.
Secretary Ross has argues it will be worthwhile. “The citizenship data provided to DOJ will be more accurate with the question than without it, which is of greater importance than any adverse effect that may result from people violating their legal duty to respond,” Ross said, The Hill reported.
Simotas argues that her district, with it’s history of already low questionnaire turnout, will be worse off. “With heightened fears of immigration enforcement and anxieties over the confidentiality of census data, it will be even more challenging to collect and complete, accurate information.”
You can read Simotas’ full letter here (warning PDF).