U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks during a Policy Forum on Immigration at the California Endowment on February 22, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Harris held two town hall style events in Southern California to speak with residents about contributions made by immigrants and refugees to the state’s economy. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Compiled By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas Now, Thurs. Feb. 23, 2017: As Donald Trump’s immigration plan to round up and deport millions of immigrants moved closer to reality this week, with a new Department of Homeland Security directive, many elected Caribbean roots officials are taking up the hot button issue and trying to help their constituents. Here are five things some are doing:
1: Town Hall forums
Jamaican American Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, (D-Brooklyn,) has been hosting town hall forums to make her community aware of the issues on the immigration front under the hashtag #BrooklynResists. Last night, Feb. 22nd, she held a special “community town hall” in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, to discuss how to “rise above” the policies of President Donald Trump. This was her second forum in weeks.
2: New Bills
The only Jamaican roots senator in the US Senate, Kamala Harris, has introduced legislation on immigration. Harris revealed her first piece of legislation on Thursday, Feb. 9th. The Access to Counsel Act targets President Donald Trump’s travel restriction executive order by providing lawyers to anyone arriving at U.S. border crossings and ports of entry.
Jamaican American Congresswoman Clarke also has tabled a bill to counter the Trump plan. Her’s is titled the Protect Our Sanctuary Cities Act and was recently tabled in the United States House of Representatives. It aims at protecting undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants and ending Trump’s executive restrictions on sanctuary cities while prohibiting the expenditure of funds to enforce those provisions.
In the New York State Senate, Guyanese-born State Senator Roxanne Persaud, D-East New York, introduced Senate Bill S4079, which would prohibit SUNY and CUNY employees from inquiring about a student’s immigration status to assist in the federal government’s removal. The bill, if it ever becomes law, would neutralize the efforts of some lawmakers at the state and federal levels to require that schools compile immigrant student data, including country of origin and their program enrollment.
“New York State should be a leader in resisting Donald Trump’s hateful actions, not a willing accomplice,” Persaud said. “That is why we must act on my bill to ensure that SUNY and CUNY schools remain places of dignified higher learning, not mechanisms to spy on students.”
3: Speaking Out
Sen. Harris is also very vocal on the issue. Harris has been very vocal on Twitter and at forums, calling the DHS’ new memo against the US “ideals as a country.”
“It will make our communities less safe, as indiscriminate enforcement leaves immigrants less likely to report crimes against themselves,” she Tweeted this week, while adding: “Mass deportations goes against our values as a nation and will strike fear in our immigrant communities.”
In Bronx, NY, Jamaican American Assemblyman Michael Blake has been using social media to share his disgust with Trump’s immigration moves. He said the “Department of Homeland Security’s aggressive plan to capture even more individuals in their deportation efforts stand in stark contrast to the false assurances given to the American people that these new policies would only target ‘dangerous individuals’.”
“This deception leaves no doubt about what the future will bring if good people do not act to resist these un-American tactics,” he added.
4: Immigration/Citizenship Forums
Dominican Republic-born Congressman Adriano Espalliat along with local Caribbean heritage city council members have been hosting Know Your Rights Immigration forums along with citizenship drives. Espalliat hosted an immigration ‘Know Your Rights’ forum on Feb. 10th in Harlem while Haitian-born New York City Councilman Mathieu Eugene of Brooklyn, NY, provided free immigration and citizenship services to constituents on Feb. 8th.
5: Church Partnerships
Grenadian American NY City Councilman Jumanee Williams is partnering with Churches United To Save and Heal, (C.U.S.H.) to host a ‘Know Your Rights’ immigration forum today, Feb 23rd, at Mount Zion Church of God in Brooklyn. The forum comes as Irwine Clare, Sr., Managing Director of the Caribbean Immigrants Services, insists that Caribbean American churches must now become a “sanctuary within a sanctuary” to Caribbean immigrants in need in the Diaspora.