By ANDREW HUGHES
One of New York’s largest grassroots immigrant-led organizations on Thursday urged the New York State Legislature to pass the DREAM Act and the Liberty Act, which are aimed to protect immigrant families and allow them educational opportunities.
Make the Road New York unveiled its seven-step plan to combat President Donald Trump’s harsh immigration policies, which include a focus on deporting illegal immigrants.
Darian X, an organizer the group, stressed the need to pass the so-called Liberty Act, which provides immigrants with sanctuary style protections.
“We have a need to protect and support the communities most vulnerable,” said X. “Too many New Yorker’s efforts efforts to build a better life for their families are derailed because of crimes that are so minor they aren’t even considered crimes by the state of New York.”
The Liberty Act has been described as an anti-Trump measure and protecting immigrants from being further sought after for petty crimes is a way to ensure the rights of immigrants who are being unfairly targeted by his administration.
In addition to protecting immigrants from excessive punishment from the judicial system, X said he wanted immigrants to feel safe in their communities from over-policing.
In a press release, the organization cited “broken windows” and “zero tolerance” policing policies as those that directly target immigrants and makes them feel unsafe. In addition, these arrests carry “significant social and public costs to taxpayers,” while also jeopardizing employment opportunities and access to health and housing programs.
In the effort to pass the Dream Act, which would protect foreign-born college students who were brought here as children and allow them the same rights as any New York-born student, education was also one of the central issues. The organization said it was crucial for the state to increase its funding for Adult Literacy Education to $17.2 million to enable immigrant New Yorkers to “get and keep jobs and to continue their career paths.
The group also supports a $10-million-dollar investment in Bridge Programs, which is a partnership between two colleges to recognize a student’s previous work at another institution, could also help students obtain their degree without more financial burden.
“It is extremely important for our students to feel like they don’t have to be of little help after graduation,” said Luba Cortes, the Youth Leader and an organizer for Make the Road New York. “I remember I had to take two years off after high school because I didn’t have access to go to college.”
The event served as a prelude to a “massive mobilization” planned for March 14th in Albany. Over 600 New York immigrant New Yorkers were expected to travel from New York City, Long Island, and Westchester to demand that the governor and the State Senate stand up for their communities.