Meng Unveils Legislation Strengthening Support For Immigrants And Refugees

    U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

    U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-Auburndale, Bayside, Elmhurst, Flushing, Forest Hills, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Murray Hill, Rego Park), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL), yesterday introduced legislation that would ensure a more inclusive and welcoming system to help new Americans achieve their American Dream.

    The “New Deal for New Americans Act” would establish critical assistance programs for immigrants and refugees to overcome common challenges such as language barriers and employment attainment, and help in breaking down barriers to naturalization. The measure consists of numerous provisions to accomplish these goals and they would do the following:

    • Establish a National Office of New Americans in the Executive Office of the White House to promote and support immigrant and refugee integration and inclusion and coordinate efforts of federal, state, and local governments to support social, economic, and civic integration of immigrants and refugees.
    • Establish a Federal Initiative on New Americans to coordinate a federal response to address issues that affect the lives of new immigrants and refugees, and communities with growing immigrant and refugee populations.
    • Create a Legal Services and Immigration Assistance Grant Program to support organizations that provide direct immigration assistance to those in need of immigration screening; know-your-rights education; assistance in applying for citizenship, lawful permanent resident status or other legal status (DACA, TPS, asylum, etc.); or seeking relief from a removal order.
    • Create an English as a Gateway to Integration Program for organizations that teach English or help individuals prepare for naturalization or earn a GED.
    • Create a Workforce Development Grant Program to ensure that immigrant and refugee adults have equitable access to education and workforce programs that help equip them with occupational skills needed to secure or advance in employment.
    • Reduce barriers for individuals to naturalize by establishing a flat application fee for naturalization, amending the English and civics exam requirements for older individuals, and exempting eligible U.S. high school graduates from taking the naturalization exams.
    • Limit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) ability to raise fees without Congress’ approval, plus require authorization of appropriations to cover USCIS’ need to operate and adjudicate cases.
    • Promote civic engagement through automatic voter registration of newly naturalized individuals.
    • Expand family integration by reducing the age of citizens who are able to petition eligible family members from 21 years old to 18 years old.
    • Increase Refugee Admissions level to 110,000 per fiscal year.
    • Provide social, economic, and civic support to refugees and rebuild the capacity and infrastructure of local communities to welcome refugees.
    • Amend the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to no longer allow deportation of an individual deemed to have become a public charge.

     “The U.S. has always been a nation of immigrants, and as the daughter of immigrants and a Representative from Queens – the most diverse place in the nation with immigrants from across the globe calling the borough home – I will never back down from fighting for our immigrant communities,” said Meng. “The New Deal for New Americans Act is a bold and sweeping effort to strengthen support for immigrants and refugees. It will break down barriers to help them succeed, and pave the way for their hopes and dreams to come true. Immigrants and refugees have always been America’s strength, and improving our system to welcome new Americans will ensure that our nation continues to thrive.” 

    Holden Resolution Against Animal Cruelty Passes Council

    City Council Member Bob Holden

    City Council Member Robert Holden (D-Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Woodhaven, Woodside) yesterday saw the city council pas his resolution calling on Congress to pass and President to sign the proposed federal Preventing Animal Cruelty Torture Act, otherwise known as the PACT Act.

    This federal legislation would revise and expand federal criminal provisions with respect to animal crushing, which is defined as actual conduct in which one or more living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians is purposely crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury.

    “My bill, Res. 977, calls on Congress to pass, and the President to sign, the PACT Act which would designate ‘animal crushing’ as a federal felony. This is an important step toward putting an end to animal cruelty and putting those responsible for killing innocent animals behind bars for a long time. The House unanimously passed this bill, and I look forward to seeing the Senate and the President follow through,” said Holden.

    Cuomo Announces Fed Grant To Reduce Maternal Mortality Rates

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo

    Governor Andrew M. Cuomo yesterday announced that New York is one of 24 states that have been awarded a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support ongoing work to reduce maternal mortality rates and address racial disparities.

    The Governor also announced the members of his recently formed NYS Maternal Mortality Review Board, which was created to review the cause of each maternal death in the state and make recommendations to the Department of Health on strategies for preventing future deaths and improving overall health outcomes.

    “All women should have access to quality health care especially before, during and after childbirth – and we’ve enlisted the best and the brightest to continue our important work to help ensure that happens,” Cuomo said. “This award will help New York address this national crisis by supporting the efforts of the experts we’ve enlisted on our Maternal Mortality Review Board.”

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded $450,000 to the State Department of Health to work in partnership with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The funding from the CDC is intended to help sustain the work of the NYS Maternal Mortality Review Board in facilitating an understanding of the drivers of maternal mortality and complications of pregnancy, as well as racial disparities in maternal mortality rates. The MMRB will recommend to the Commissioner clinical and community interventions to improve outcomes for families and communities.

    The United States has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world – and racial disparities continue to persist, as black women are nationally almost four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women, and three times more likely in New York. While New York State has made improvements in reducing maternal mortality rates since 2010 when it was ranked 46th in the nation, the state still ranks 30th in the nation.

    Vallone Unveils “CW5 Howard C. Haider Way” 

    City Council Member Paul Vallone

    City Council Member Paul A. Vallone (D-Alley Pond Park, Bay Terrace, Bayside, College Point, Douglaston, East Elmhurst, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Little Neck, Whitestone) on Tuesday joined the Haider family on Tuesday afternoon to unveil the new “CW5 Howard C. Haider Way” at the intersection of 207th Street and Northern Boulevard in Bayside.

    Chief Haider served in the military from 1963 until 2003 and was the first person in New York State to secure the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 5.

    CW5 Howard Charles Haider was born in 1941 and passed away in 2016. Chief Haider’s military service started on November 21, 1963 in the 258th Field Artillery Regiment of the New York Army National Guard. He was the first to achieve the rank of Chief Warrant Officer Five in New York State. His military service ended in 2003. 

    “CW5 Haider lived a full life in deep devotion his to his country, his community and countless local organizations,” said Vallone. “I’m proud and humbled to recognize Chief Haider’s lifetime of service and to congratulate Christine and Howard Haider Jr. on this lasting recognition.”

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