Clarke urges Trump to ‘stand up for diversity’

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke addresses fundraising concert and brunch.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke on Saturday, Nov. 4 urged President Donald J. Trump to be “a true New Yorker and stand up for diversity.”

In addressing an annual fundraising brunch and concert in her honor, at St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church on Hawthorne Street in Brooklyn, Clarke, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, said that Trump should adopt this stance “rather than fight to create an America that is hostile to the very foundation of what makes America great.”

Last week, Trump has called on Congress to abolish the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program, through which the suspect in the New York terror attack entered the country.

He called the program, informally known as the Green Card lottery, a disaster for the country.

“This program grants visas not on a basis of merit, but simply because applicants are randomly selected in an annual lottery and the people put in that lottery are not that country’s finest,” he said, adding that “the program presents significant vulnerabilities to our national security.”

Uzbek native Sayfullo Saipov is accused of driving a rented truck down a crowded New York City bike path, killing eight people and injuring more than a dozen others.

Investigators said Saipov told them he was inspired to conduct the attack by Islamic State videos, according to Voice of America (VOA). He faces federal terror-related charges.

Saipov is the fifth DV program beneficiary to be connected with a terrorist attack in the US since the program was started in 1990, VOA said.

It said the program grants 50,000 green cards a year to countries with low immigration rates to the United States, mainly from Africa and Eastern Europe.

But Clarke said the Trump administration has “politicized this tragedy and turned it into yet another way of going after immigrants of color by attacking the diversity visa lottery program.”

She added, however, that “terrorism won’t break the spirit of New Yorkers or force us to compromise on our values.

“New York symbolizes what makes America great,” she said.

Clarke also called on Congressional Republicans to “work with Democrats and pass legislation to protect DREAMers, TPS beneficiaries, and all those facing discriminatory action that is contrary to our basic values.”

In early September Trump ordered an end to the Obama-era program that shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation, calling it an “amnesty-first approach,” urging Congress to pass a replacement before he begins phasing out its protections in six months.

As early as March, officials said, some of the 800,000 young adults brought to the United States illegally as children who qualify for the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, will become eligible for deportation. The five-year-old policy allows them to remain without fear of immediate removal from the country and gives them the right to work legally, according to the New York Times.

Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who announced the change at the Justice Department, both used the aggrieved language of anti-immigrant activists, arguing that those in the country illegally are lawbreakers who hurt native-born Americans by usurping their jobs and pushing down wages, the Times said.

Trump said in a statement that he was driven by a concern for “the millions of Americans victimized by this unfair system.”

Sessions said the program had “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.”

But former President Barack Obama, who had warned that any threat to the program would prompt him to speak out, called his successor’s decision “wrong,” “self-defeating” and “cruel.”

“Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us,” wrote Obama on Facebook.

On Monday, the Times reported that thousands of immigrants from Nicaragua who came to the United States illegally, many of them decades ago, will lose special permission allowing them to stay in the country.

But the Trump administration said the effective date of termination would be delayed one year, until Jan. 5, 2019, to give about 2,500 individuals time to leave the country or adjust their immigration status.

The program allowing them to stay, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), was enacted by Congress in 1990 to protect foreigners, particularly Central Americans, fleeing war, natural disasters or catastrophes and was extended to Haitians after the 2010 earthquake, the Times said.

It said many of the more than 300,000 people shielded from deportation under the program have lived in the United States for years and bought homes, embarked on careers and given birth to children who are American citizens.

People protected under the program will be given six months to leave after their current permissions expire, the Times said.

It said the temporary status for the 86,000 Hondurans and 5,000 Nicaraguans in the program expires in early January, stating that Monday was the deadline for the Department of Homeland Security to decide whether to renew that status.

It has until Thanksgiving to decide whether to extend the protection for thousands of Haitians, the Times said.

“We must, therefore, fight to save TPS,” Clarke exhorted supporters, patrons and worshippers on Saturday. “We must fight to protect the diversity visa lottery program. And we must fight to save DREAMers.”

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