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Menchaca pushes city to protect DACA immigrants

September 8, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Councilmember Carlos Menchaca says the city has to take action because “the loss of DACA throws the lives of nearly 1 million undocumented immigrants who have only ever known this country into severe turmoil.” Eagle file photo by Arthur De Gaeta
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Responding to President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program protecting undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, Brooklyn Councilmember Carlos Menchaca is moving quickly on an effort to shore up the city’s support for so-called Dreamers, the young adults who fall under DACA regulations.

Menchaca (D-Sunset Park-Red Hook), chairman of the Council’s Committee on Immigration, announced that his committee has voted to approve two bills aimed at protecting the Dreamers.

One bill, sponsored by Menchaca and Councilmember Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), would create an interagency task force to support DACA-vulnerable immigrants living in New York City.

A second bill, sponsored by Dromm and Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Washington Heights), would expand the role of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA).

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“In the face of hatred and xenophobia, New York stands tall as a model of resistance against policies that threaten our vital immigrant communities. The loss of DACA throws the lives of nearly 1 million undocumented immigrants who have only ever known this country into severe turmoil. In New York City today, we reaffirm that our undocumented neighbors are no less New Yorkers than anyone else who chooses to live here,” Menchaca said.

The two bills “will expand the scope of MOIA’s great work, connecting immigrants to legal services, while establishing an interagency task force to protect vulnerable populations such as victims of human trafficking, LGBTQI individuals and those formerly involved in the criminal justice system,” Menchaca said.
Dromm said the proposed legislation is important because it will “strengthen our city’s historic commitment to immigrants by making it easier for these New Yorkers to access city programs.”

Rodriguez, who is an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, said New York City “will not allow a president hostile to immigrants to disrupt the lives of our residents without a fight.”

Intro 1566, the bill sponsored by Dromm and Rodriguez, seeks to expand the role of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs to account for the new policies coming out of Washington, D.C. The bill will enhance MOIA’s mission to: 

  • Work with the civil justice coordinator to assess the legal service needs of immigrants 

  • Establish a state and federal affairs unit to follow changing federal laws and policies

  • Consult with city agencies on the implementation of laws and policies designed to protect immigrants

  • Consult with agencies on best practices for serving victims of crime and human trafficking

  • Report annually to the council on its activities and on the needs of the immigrant community

The Menchaca-Dromm bill, Intro 1578, would create an interagency task force, led by MOIA, that would be responsible for coordinating city services for immigrants, particularly immigrants who are victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, and those formerly involved with the criminal justice system, LGBTQ individuals and minors.

The task force would include representatives from more than a dozen city agencies.

Trump announced on Sept. 5 that he was ending DACA, the Obama-era policy that allows undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents when they were children to remain in the country without facing the threat of deportation.

Nearly 800,000 young adults across the country fall under the DACA guidelines.

The Brooklyn Eagle reported on Sept. 7 that Kings County had a total of 22,000 DACA-eligible residents as of March of this year, according to the Migration Policy Institute.


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