Sen. Jesse Hamilton said he would introduce legislation that would allow people with Temporary Protected Status to keep their driver’s licenses and Medicaid.
Elected officials, local thought leaders and concerned citizens gathered Thursday evening at Brooklyn Public Library’s Dweck Center for a town hall meeting that centered around a topic that has been in the national spotlight for months: the future of our country’s immigration policy.
The policy in question was the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an American immigration policy that allows some individuals who enter the country as minors, and had either entered or remained in the country illegally, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit.
Addressing a crowd of over sixty people, panelists lamented the current U.S. President administration’s push to end DACA, calling it a disregard for civil rights and a further attempt to divide Americans. The officials also made sure to note what their particular offices are doing in an attempt to fight back.
State Senator Jesse Hamilton announced plans to introduce legislation that would allow people with Temporary Protected Status to keep their driver’s licenses and Medicaid. He also shared plans to introduce legislation requiring ICE agents inform attorneys of their intended actions when they enter a courtroom.
“Although we might have come in here in different ships, we’re all in the same boat,” said Assemblyman Walter Mosley.
Congresswoman Yvette Clarke relayed her firsthand perspective of the scene in Washington, D.C., calling the climate there “beyond toxic.” Despite Washington’s divisive atmosphere, she urged the crowd not to resign themselves to the situation:
“You shouldn’t just be here because you wanted to hear your assemblyman speak, your congresswoman speak, your senator speak,” Clarke said. “You should be here because you want to do something about it. Because the more that we are silent while all of this is going down, the more that we are complicit with what’s going on.”
Assemblyman Walter Mosley pointed out that how integral a role the immigrant community often plays in our local landscape: “They are our teachers, they are our college professors, they are our law enforcement, they are our first responders, they are our small business owners,” said Mosley. “These are people we call our neighbors, some of them we call our relative.
“And the worst thing that we can do is not to embolden ourselves to be … a resource to others. Because although we might have come in here in different ships, we’re all in the same boat.”
These themes of togetherness and taking action continued as the event’s panelists took the stage to share their views. The panelists included Grammy-nominated artist Maimouna Youssef; WBLS radio personality Dahved Levy; Video Music Box Director Ralph McDaniels; Medgar Evers College Professor Dr. John Flateau; Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute Board Chair Lumumba Bandele, General Council and Policy Director for the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Sonia Lin; and Edwidge Menard, the deputy director of the NYC Commission on Human Rights.
While the panelists shared their perspective on DACA, they also reminded attendees that today’s issues affect the future of the country, especially the upcoming midterm elections and the 2020 national census. The panelists advised the audience to bridge generational and cultural divides and become more involved in the community.
“We really don’t have the luxury to contemplate whether or not we get involved at this point,” Bandele warned. “We literally have to organize. Our lives depend on it.”