Sunset Park

Menchaca calls on feds to do more for immigrants

June 28, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Councilmember Carlos Menchaca is the chairman of the Committee on Immigration. Photo courtesy of Menchaca’s office
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In a sharp rebuke of the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down President Barack Obama’s executive order protecting certain undocumented immigrants from deportation, Councilmember Carlos Menchaca called on the federal government to do more to assist immigrants.

Menchaca, who is the chairman of the council’s Committee on Immigration, said at a City Hall press conference on Monday that his committee is reviewing two resolutions: one that calls on the State Department to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. and to increase the number to 65,000 next year, and another which calls on the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to designate Ecuador for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to provide relief to Ecuadorian nationals living in the U.S. 

TPS is a program that allows the government to extend the stay of foreigners whose countries have experienced a natural disaster, conflict or other event that makes it too dangerous to return home.

On April 16, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake devastated Ecuador, leaving 660 people dead, injuring more than 16,000 people and displacing over 28,000 residents. The government of Ecuador has formally requested that the U.S. grant TPS to Ecuadorians in the U.S., reporting that there are approximately 146,000 Ecuadorians in the U.S. who are undocumented.

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“Here in New York City, we will show even stronger support for immigrants and call on our federal government to take the necessary steps to finally bring comprehensive immigration reform and create more humane laws and policies that treat immigrants with dignity and respect,” said Menchaca (D-Sunset Park-Red Hook).

Menchaca stood with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Councilmembers Stephen Levin and Julissa Ferreras-Copeland to call on the U.S. to take decisive action to help immigrants.

The press conference came just days after the Supreme Court decided to put an indefinite hold on the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and Expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs that were instituted by Obama through executive order.

“Temporary Protective Status serves as a critical humanitarian lifeline that will permit those affected by the Ecuadorian earthquake to legally stay and work in the U.S. to sustain themselves and their families,” Mark-Viverito said. “In a time where there is disgusting rhetoric about immigrants, along with the rising global xenophobia that has been spreading, now is not the time, for our city nor our nation, to turn our backs on them. With many Syrians fleeing persecution and violence, we are also calling on the U.S. to allow more Syrian refugees into the United States.”

Levin (D-Williamsburg-Greenpoint) said that in a political climate that is threatening to become increasingly hostile to immigrants, “we must stand up for the rights and dignity of all people.”

Levin is a co-prime sponsor on the resolution on Syrian refugees.

Immigrants and immigration advocates called on the government to do more to help refugees.

“I hope and I believe that the more we can all do to support and understand the lives of refugees and asylum seekers, the more we can ensure that families like mine can be successful in starting their new lives,” said Parbat Chapagai, a student and refugee from Bhutan.

“The International Rescue Committee has been resettling refugees in New York City for more than 80 years and works with over 3,000 refugees, asylum seekers and other immigrants each year to help them rebuild their lives. New York City has a long and proud history of welcoming refugees and immigrants from all over the world and integrating them into the fabric of our City,” said Avigail Ziv, executive director of the International Rescue Committee in New York.

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