Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke says she and her Democratic colleagues in the US House of Representatives and the Senate are doing everything in their power to fight the “racist and inhumane” immigration policies of the Trump administration.
“As we are all aware, this administration has attacked the hard-working immigrants in our communities here in Brooklyn and throughout our nation,” said Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, in addressing a town hall meeting Tuesday night at Brooklyn College, City University of New York (CUNY).
“My Democratic colleagues and I in Congress value the contributions of the immigrant community to our economy, our community and our culture,” added the representative for the predominantly Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, who hosted the town hall meeting, flanked by local elected officials, and immigration advocates and attorneys, among others. “And we have been working hard to protect immigrants from the administration’s attacks.”
Clarke noted that the Democratic-controlled House has passed her legislation, HR 6, the historic American Dream and Promise Act, which provides a pathway to citizenship for eligible “Dreamers,” who were under the age of 18 when they were brought to the US and have lived most of their lives in this country.
She said the US Congress is working very hard to hold the Trump administration accountable for “the atrocities it is responsible for at our Southern border,” stating that Congress has introduced H.R. 3525, the US Border Patrol Medical Screening Standards Act to establish procedures “that will ensure consistent and efficient medical screenings for all individuals stopped between ports of entry.”
In addition, Clarke said the US Legislature has introduced H.R.3731, the Strategic and Humane Southern Border Migrant Response Act “to demand that the administration respond to the migrant crisis at the border in a strategic and humane manner.”
Most recently, she said Congress introduced HR 3777, a bill to establish a National Commission to investigate the treatment of migrant families and children by the Trump administration.
“We are doing everything within our power to fight these racist and inhumane policies,” Clarke stressed. “Unfortunately, we are dealing with a Republican-led Senate that is in lock-step and is complicit with Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda.”
Clarke was joined at the town hall meeting by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer; New York State Senator Zellnor Myrie, representative for the 20th Senatorial District in Brooklyn, who traces his roots to Jamaica; New York State Senator Kevin Parker, representative for the 21st Senatorial District in Brooklyn; New York State Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, representative for the 43rd Assembly District in Brooklyn, and daughter of St. Martin and Aruban immigrants; and the new Jamaica Consul General to New York Alision Roach Wilson.
Panelists comprised Sin Lin, deputy commissioner, New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs; Jose Interiano, deputy chief of Immigration Affairs, Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office; Elizabeth Rieser-Murphy, staff attorney, New York’s Legal Aid Society; Carlos Sierra, CUNY Citizenship Now; and Ravi Ragbir, a Trinidadian-born immigrant activist and founder of the immigration group, New Sanctuary.
Jeff T. Behler, regional director of the US Census Bureau, was among the panelists during the discussion that was moderated by Dr. John Flateau, a professor at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College, CUNY.
Clarke said the goal of the town hall was also to provide information on “the importance of why our community must fully participate and fill out the 2020 Census.”
“Our ability to meet the needs of our community are linked directly to our rate of compliance in filling out the Census,” she told attendees. “With rapidly gentrifying demographics, it is critical that we document, through maximizing our participation, the needs of everyone who resides here.
“Any distortion of our reality can and will have dire consequences that will last a decade,” Clarke warned. “The power of filling out the census is not widely understood. “And so, today, we are heightening awareness and engagement in an ongoing effort in tackling what will be a monumental task, beginning in January of 2020.”
The congresswoman said US federal funding and resources are directly tied to census counts, pointing out that things like classroom size, access to neighborhood health care and even stop light length times are impacted by data from the census.
As an active member of the US Congressional Black Caucus’ 2020 Census Task Force, Clarke said she has taken on a leadership role in “strategizing ways to educate and engage people in the community about why we must fill out our census,” making it clear that “every living person — from our babies to our seniors — every person must be counted.”
Historically, she said her district has been one of the hardest to count in America.
“There are those in Washington, D.C. who are actively working against our interests and benefit from us maintaining or even falling below the status quo,” Clarke said. “For the sake of our future and that of our families, we must think enough of ourselves, our children and families to disrupt the status quo, and demonstrate our power.
“I’m committed to making a difference with the 2020 Census by empowering you with the knowledge of the power of filling out the census,” she affirmed.
Behler urged attendees to “share information about the census,” assuring that “the census is safe.”
“We cannot use the information we collect against you,” he said.