Driving While Undocumented, and Facing the Risks

July 18, 2017. This article discusses the risk of deportation that undocumented immigrants face when driving a vehicle because they can’t obtain driver’s licenses in New York. The risk is now even higher under the Trump administration due to aggressive immigration enforcement. This article discusses how routine traffic stops have increased and led to the deportation of undocumented immigrants, even in emergencies, such as getting medicine for a sick daughter.  The article goes on to discuss how some do not support allowing undocumented immigrants access to driver’s licenses because it is reserved for those here legally and others do because it is a matter of public safety.

Under a Trump administration that has taken an aggressive stance on illegal immigration, the moving car has become an easy target. A broken headlight, a seatbelt not worn, a child not in a car seat may be minor traffic violations, but for unauthorized immigrants, they can have life-altering consequences.

Routine traffic stops have always carried the threat of deportation, but during the last years of the Obama administration, when serious crimes were prioritized, the stops that simply revealed unlawful status often resulted in deferment. No longer.

According to a report by the Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, more than 752,000 undocumented immigrants would be eligible for driver’s licenses in New York State, and of that number, roughly 265,000 would apply. Taxes and fees could assist the annual economy in counties and the state by $57 million, the report showed.

Here is the link to The New York Times.

After 40 Years ‘We Are Nuts About Nuts’ Will Close This Month

July 13, 2017. This article discusses the closing of the local small business, “We Are Nuts About Nuts,” in New York City. This nut shop, owned by a Korean immigrant named Yeo, who purchased it 21 years ago, is closing due to the creation of upscale and expensive residential buildings that are replacing the office buildings surrounding the shop. This article also discusses how upscale residents do not equate to more business for shop owners, that rents increase and the ability to purchase items online also contributes to the failure of businesses.

The hankerings of employees in the surrounding office buildings used to sustain his shop, says Yeo. That was before the turnover to high-priced apartments heated up.

Yeo rang up a customer named Ann, whose employer of 28 years had moved off the block and into the World Trade Center. She had walked up from the tower to score almonds and candied papaya. “Everything seems to have been snatched from us, all the mom and pops,” she said. “He’s one of the last of the Mohicans that’s been supplying us with treats for so many years.”

The downturn is magnified in tony neighborhoods like TriBeCa, says David Dyssegaard Kallick of the Fiscal Policy Institute. “People assume upscale residents will buy more stuff, but they’re not going down to the local store for nuts. They’re spending money on bigger items and less in local groceries.”

Or they might not be around to shop at all. “Apartments for high prices are often second or third homes,” Kallick notes, “so people don’t spend a lot of time there.”

“I like that nut shop. I’m sorry to see it going. There’s some loss to the character of the neighborhood without it,” says Kallick. “But New York also thrives on churning in population and business. Forty years is a good run.”

Here is the link to the Eater New York.

House GOP Targets Sanctuary Cities As Mayors Call For Inclusivity

July 11, 2017. The authors, Brooks Rainwater and Irma Esparza-Diggs, of an op-ed in The Hill, discuss how the “No Sanctuary for Criminals” bill could interfere with the inclusive and pro-immigrant beliefs, actions and stances that many mayors across the United States have. This bill would jeopardize funding to local public safety officers and would put local governments at risk of liability and litigation, in order to get local officers to act as immigration officers. This op-ed discusses how many mayors are aware of the economic benefits and contributions that immigrants bring to many of their cities and they want to continue welcoming them, embracing their cultural differences and empowering them. There is currently a coalition of 150 mayors who are fighting against federal immigration reform, enacting inclusive policies and some are even filing lawsuits.

Mayors know that immigration makes the United States stronger.

Rather than discriminating against people based on their race, religion or creed, America’s mayors embrace cultural differences and stand with immigrant populations by protecting and empowering them.

Statistics like those in Michigan are reflected nationwide. A study from the Fiscal Policy Institute finds that 28 percent of main street business owners are immigrants, and this proportion is higher in areas with large immigrant populations like Miami and Washington, D.C.

Ultimately, mayors’ primary goal is to create safe, livable, and prosperous communities. Whether it’s by starting businesses or leading a city, immigrants and descendants of immigrants play a critical role in the fabric of our country.

Here is the link to The Hill.

New Mario Cuomo Bridge Comes With Some Questions

July 7, 2017. This article discusses Governor Cuomo’s use of a “message of necessity,” which bypasses the three day waiting period between the introduction of a bill and when it can be voted on, in order to rename the Tappan Zee bridge after his father. The assembly previously voted not to pass this proposal. Some, including FPI’s executive director Ron Deutsch, do not view renaming the bridge as a necessity.

Messages are supposed to be reserved for emergencies but are often misused for routine purposes, said Ron Deutsch with the watchdog group Fiscal Policy Institute.

“As a rule, we don’t like messages of necessity,” Deutsch said.

Deutsch said while it’s “wonderful” that lawmakers want to honor Mario Cuomo, the renaming of a bridge does not meet the criteria for an emergency message.

“I think that’s something that could obviously wait,” he said. “I don’t see any sense of urgency in renaming a bridge.”

Here is the link to WXXI News.

Protecting Young Immigrants Boosts NY Economy

July 7, 2017. This article discusses how the Trump administration rescinded the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program but has continued Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). FPI’s, Cyierra Roldan, policy analyst, was quoted discussing the local and state tax contributions that DACA recipients make.  This article discusses how the DACA program is beneficial to all.

“DACA recipients currently pay a total of $1.6 billion to local and state taxes around the country; and currently in New York State, they are contributing $140 million,” she says.

“The DACA recipients would lose their work permits, their incomes would decrease,” she adds.
“So, if DACA was terminated, the state would lose $55 million in local and state taxes.” “The DACA recipients would lose their work permits, their incomes would decrease,” she adds. “So, if DACA was terminated, the state would lose $55 million in local and state taxes.”
Roldan notes that ending DACA would put almost 900,000 young immigrants nationwide at risk of being deported to countries they have never known.

“They grew up here,” continues Roldan. “This is the only place they know as home and the place that they call home. And they just want to do the same things that we all do.”

Here is the link to the Public News Service.

‘Dysfunctional’ Still Fits New York Legislature to a T

July 6, 2017. This article discusses the decision of the legislature, who chose to ignore ethics reform before the end of their session. The governor, who stated that ethics reform is a priority, is now proposing that a new inspector general could work under his office. Others are upset that the legislature did not approve ethics reform and are not convinced by the governor’s proposal because of the involvement of nine associates of the governor involved in bribery and bid-rigging scandals and the governor’s decision to disband the Moreland Commission.

Meanwhile Ron Deutsch, director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, said it best as the Legislature wrapped up its business content with its record of the past six months. “It’s another sad day in Albany,” Deutsch told a reporter. “We have the largest bid-rigging scandal in state history, and we virtually ignored it.”

Deutsch thinks the governor’s proposal is ridiculous and compares it to the fox guarding the henhouse. The plan simply would not work, he asserts.

Here is the link to the Union-Sun Journal.

Continuation of Protection for Some Immigrants is Good News for NY Economy

Young Immigrants Pay $55 Million More in NY Taxes as a Result of DACA

July 5, 2017. In the midst of a flurry of restrictive actions against various categories of immigrants, the Trump administration announced last month that it would continue, at least for now, the policy that protects some undocumented immigrants from deportation if they arrived in the United States as children. The policy, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, allows immigrant youth who register and are accepted to get permission to work, a driver’s license and temporary relief from deportation. At the same time, the Trump Administration announced the cancellation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), that would have protected the immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.[1]

Even these young immigrants can hardly breathe easy in the current political environment. Donald J. Trump’s rhetoric about DACA youth during the campaign and presidency has been contradictory and confusing at best. During the campaign, Trump stated that he was going to rescind this program, but during the beginning of his presidency he contradicted his statements and announced that immigrant youth with DACA are not a target for deportation by the Department of Homeland Security. Still, a sigh of relief is certainly justified. While the ultimate fate of DACA is still uncertain, at least for now the program continues.

Nationally, 887,000 have already been granted DACA, including 76,000 in New York State.[2]

While the biggest benefit of retaining DACA is of course to immigrant youth, the communities they live in will also see concrete gains. When immigrants have legal permission to work they can find a better job match, which allows employers to make more productive use of their skills. DACA also ensures a higher level of tax compliance: While all undocumented immigrants pay sales tax and contribute to property taxes, and about half file income tax returns, with DACA all recipients file income tax returns.

As a result of higher earnings and higher levels of tax compliance, DACA means increased state and local tax revenues. DACA recipients currently pay a total of $1.6 billion dollars to local and state taxes around the country, according to an analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy[3] If the program is eliminated, the U.S. would lose $797 million in local and state taxes.

In New York State, those currently receiving DACA contribute $140 million to state and local taxes and if DACA was terminated, New York State would lose $55 million.

DACA is not just about the money, of course. Many of these youth see the United States as their only home, and often have no recollection of any other country. They have grown up in the U.S. school system, and they may have been our longtime friends and classmates. These are young people who are just trying to do the right thing. It is a welcome bit of good news that the Trump Administration will allow DACA to continue, at least for now.

By: Cyierra Roldan

 

[1] In 2014, President Obama issued an executive order that would have expanded eligibility for DACA, and also would have created DAPA, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. The DACA expansion and DAPA were held up in courts throughout the Obama Administration. With the announcement that the Trump Administration will leave the original 2012 version of DACA in place for now, the administration also announced the cancellation of the executive order on DACA expansion and DAPA.

[2] Migration Policy Institute data tool, DACA Eligible Population by State and County, 2016.

[3] Misha E. Hill and Meg Wiehe, “State & Local Tax Contributions of Young Undocumented Immigrants,” (District  of Columbia: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, 2017).

Editorial: Lawmakers Just Walked Away From Ethics Issue

July 2, 2017. In this editorial, the authors discuss the decision of the legislature, who decided not to pass ethics reform. The governor, who stated that ethics reform is a priority, is now proposing that a new inspector general could work under his office. Others are upset that the legislature did not approve ethics reform and are not convinced by the governor’s proposal because of the involvement of associates of the governor involved in bribery and bid-rigging scandals and the governor’s decision to disband the Moreland Commission.

Meanwhile Ron Deutsch, director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, said it best as the Legislature wrapped up its business as though complacent with their record of the past six months. “It’s another sad day in Albany,” Deutsch told a reporter, “We have the largest bid-rigging scandal in state history, and we virtually ignored it.”

Deutsch also thinks the governor’s proposal is ridiculous and compared it to the fox-guarding-the-henhouse sort of approach. The plan simply would not work, he added.

Here is the link to Niagara Gazette.

June 26, 2017: Good Government Advocates

June 26, 2017. FPI’s Executive Director, Ron Deutsch joins Barbara Bartoletti, Legislative Director for the League of Women Voters of New York State and Blair Horner, Executive Director of NYPIRG on WCNY News to discuss the failure of lawmakers to pass contract procurement and ethic reforms and voting laws.

“It’s been a sad day in Albany. It’s a bad day at the end of the legislative session when nothing gets done on contract reform, on economic development reform and we are looking at a major $800 million bid-rigging trial set to start in October and these guys did nothing to address that and I think that’s a shame.”

“I am really surprised and I thought this bill had broad bi-partisan support. It should have sailed through both houses and if the governor did not want to enter into a three way agreement, then the legislature should have laid it on his desk and allowed him to either veto it or approve it. So I think they had their opportunity here to do the right thing and sadly they weren’t able to get that done. This was nothing but simple checks and balances. THis is nothing to be pushing back against for the governor but he just dones’t want anybody looking over his shoulder.?

Here is the link to WCNY.

 

Is Ethics Reform Dead in Albany?

June 26, 2017. This article discusses the failure of lawmakers to implement ethical reforms that would prevent bid-rigging scandals in economic development contracts. The article discusses how Governor Cuomo is against the contract procurement bill and is proposing to hire a new inspector general who will work under him. Many are not happy with this decision and do not agree with the Governor’s proposal, including FPI’s Executive Director, Ron Deutsch.

Ron Deutsch, with the union backed think tank Fiscal Policy Institute, says it’s a missed opportunity.

“It’s another sad day in Albany,” said Deutsch. “We have the largest bid rigging scandal in state history, and we virtually ignored it.”

Deutsch says the bill currently in the legislature is what he calls a “common sense” measure. It would reinstate oversight of the procurement of economic development contracts to the State Comptroller. It has support from numerous government reform groups on the left and the right, as well as majority party sponsors in both houses of the legislature.

“If the Comptroller had that power, he would have caught some of the bid rigging issues that were being dealt with in these contracts,” Deutsch said. ”

Deutsch, with Fiscal Policy Institute, says an inspector under the authority of the governor would just not work.

“The governor’s proposal was preposterous,” said Deutsch. “It was a fox guarding the henhouse kind of approach.”

Here is the link to WXXI News.