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August 23, 2017
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City Council hopeful is breaking the chains
Aug 23, 2017 | 51 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland announced that she would be stepping down from her Queens City Council seat, she really laid the groundwork for this year's most contentious primary race. Former state senator and councilman Hiram Monserrate, who was forced to leave office under a cloud of controversy, was already planning to challenge Ferreras-Copeland in the primary, eager to regain a political post. But when Ferreras-Copeland announced her resignation, Assemblyman Francisco Moya announced that he was interested in the seat. Ever since, the two have been nipping at each other in the press and public; there's definitely no love lost between these two. Monserrate claims that Moya has done virtually nothing of note during his seven years in the Assembly, while Moya brings up Monserrate's previous scandals – he was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend and was sentenced to two years in prison for fraud – as examples of why he is unfit to return to public service. Despite his troubles with the law, Monserrate has his loyal supporters who have never wavared in their support of him and he has a lot of experience running campaigns, so he's a formidable challenger in the district even if he doesn't have the support of the Queens County Democratic Party. But they haven't always been the only two candidates in this primary. In fact, until recently there were three other Democrats interested in the position. Two of them were Erycka Montoya and Christina Furlong, who were both kicked off the ballot after their petitions were challenged. Monserrate immediately pinned the blame on Moya for getting the two of them booted from the ballot. However, the third former candidate hasn't given up his quest to get on the primary ballot. Yonel Letellier Sosa, past president of the New Visions Democratic Club of Jackson Heights and former chief of staff to State Senator Jose Peralta, held a protest outside New York State Supreme Court in Brooklyn this week to protest the court's decision on August 8 to keep him off the ballot. And he brought chains! He argues that the Queens Democratic Party lacked sufficient evidence to challenge the petitions. “Just as we anxiously prepared for a solar eclipse that provided parts of the country with three to four minutes of darkness, I would also like to highlight the community eclipse that has been orchestrated by the Queens Democratic machinery for three to four decades that has provided darkness to the electoral process of our communities,” Letellier Sosa said in his statement. We are all for letting as many candidates running and participating in the Democratic process, and agree that this practice of tying up prospective candidates in lengthy court battles over their petitions, a battle they can hardly afford – in either money or time – to fight is less than fair. But man, these are some strained metaphors! And what do the chains represent? “We are gathered here in front of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court wrapped in chains as a symbolic gesture of the way the Queens Democratic machinery has chained our communities,” Letellier Sosa explained. “Our message is very clear ‘let go of our community.’” We wish Letellier Sosa the best of luck in his fight, but maybe he should just keep his message simple and on point. That said, we have a soft spot in our hearts for anyone who would drag a heavy chain all the way to Brooklyn just to make a point!
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RAISE Act Would Be Bad for U.S. Economy
by Dev Banad Viswanath & Michael Phulwani
Aug 23, 2017 | 52 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Reforming American Immigration for Strong Economy (RAISE) Act would replace our current immigration system with a point-based system. Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue introduced this act with the support of President Donald Trump. While the bill has been introduced into committee, it is still far away from becoming a law. But as we have seen by recent events in the United States, many things can happen with one election. This is an immigration curtailment measure, and will stem the flow of less-educated people if they are not wealthy. It will also reduce the ability for families to rejoin in the U.S. without further merit. The RAISE Act would cut the number of immigrants allowed into the U.S. each year without a realistic connection to family reunification or the economic needs of our nation. This bill acts on the false assumption that legal immigration is harmful to our country, when on the contrary strong family unities contribute to helping build a stronger economy. All family-based legal immigration categories would be eliminated except for spouses and children (under the age of 18) of U.S citizens and permanent residents. The act would only create a renewable temporary visa for older-adult parents who come for care-taking purposes. Eliminating immigration categories for extended family and grown adult family members is extremely unfair to those who have already followed the rules and applied for an immigrant visa. Those individuals have been waiting for years to receive a green card due to a visa backlog to reunite with their family in the U.S. Luckily, there is still time to file for family members, and most likely any applications that have already been filed will be grandfathered. The new point-based system would not take into consideration the needs of U.S. employers, and U.S. companies would not be able to access foreign workers in order to grow their companies. The act would only focus on a strict point-based system and completely ignore considerations such as one’s fieldwork and special skills when granting a nonimmigrant visa. This point system would grant legal residency green cards based on skills, education, and language ability. President Trump believes that this new system will help struggling American families and put their needs first, but he has yet to provide empirical data or substantial evidence to support this belief. The RAISE Act would remove lower-skilled immigrants from the U.S. immigration system, which would have an adverse effect on the economy. High-skilled immigrants who are admitted based on their education and work experience, but without a job offer, may be forced to take low-skilled jobs that Americans now will take, but are less qualified to do. Moreover, if the act becomes law it may result in labor shortages, specifically in lower-wage jobs that many Americans do not want. Important immigrant visa programs such as the EB-5 immigrant investor program, the special immigrant religious workers program, and the physician national interest waiver green card program would no longer exist. The number of refugees who will be allowed to be admitted into the U.S. will also decrease to 50,000 a year. The RAISE Act will do away with the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, which will reduce immigration from Africa, Asia and many other countries because the sponsors of the bill do not think the program promotes diversity. The position of this act and the rhetoric that President Trump espouses regarding immigration are unrealistic and malfeasant in an already troubled immigration system. The system does need to be overhauled and improved for sure, but not in a manner that will strip the United States of the very characteristic that makes us great. Our resilient and inclusive diversity that promotes the ethos that every man, woman, and child can come from any place in the world and succeed in America and make the United States a happier, stronger, and safer place. Dev Banad Viswanath and Michael Phulwani are attorney with The Banad Law Offices.
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