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Nassau Immigrants & Allies Occupy County Exec Mangano’s Lobby in Mineola, Demand Action
With County failing to provide required language access services, residents rally and confront key Mangano staff
MINEOLA — Bowing to pressure from over 50 immigrants who rallied outside his office and occupied the lobby here, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano has agreed to meet to discuss the County's language access policy, which is months overdue. [Photos available here]
Last year, Mangano signed two Executive orders promising translation and interpretation services for the county's 130,000 limited-English-proficient residents at county agencies, such as the Departments of Social Services, Police, Health, Probation, and Human Services. The orders were supposed to be fully implemented effective July 30, 2014. Since the signing of these critical Orders, however, the Mangano administration has not taken the necessary steps or invested the necessary resources to implement them.
After an outdoor rally, the group occupied the lobby of the Mineola Legislative and Executive Building, where Deputy Minority Affairs Director Herb Flores and Communications Director Brian Nevin committed to an October meeting with Mangano and coalition representatives.
Senen Vasquez, a member of Make the Road New York, said, "Having an interpreter to aid our community in our basic needs is important not only to myself as an immigrant but its important for all community. Not only the language is foreign to us, but the whole system. When I seek an interpreter I don't do it out of luxury but out of necessity."
New York Communities for Change Chapter President Diane Goins said, "We're here today to demand equal rights for all Nassau residents. If you don't speak fluent English, in Nassau County you are barred from accessing the services that keep your family healthy and secure. County Executive Mangano made a promise to immigrant communities in Nassau and he has broken that promise – shame on him. We need language access now and NYCC will continue to push for complete implementation of these orders. It's the right thing to do for all of Nassau County."
"In government, it's not the thought the counts, it's what you actually do to keep our communities healthy and safe," said Steve McFarland, Coordinator of the Long Island Civic Engagement Table. "We applauded County Executive Mangano for promising to implement language access last year, but now he is breaking that promise. After months of being brushed off, we're pleased the administration has promised an October meeting with the County Executive, his staff, and our coalition. We are eager to do our part to help make sure Nassau works for all its residents."
"We're pleased that representatives from the County Executive's office came to meet with us today to acknowledge our concerns," said Cheryl Keshner, Coordinator of the Long Island Language Advocates Coalition. "We continue to have deep concerns about the County Executive's failure to implement the Executive Orders as promised, but look forward to meeting with him in the month of October. We'll continue to remind County Executive Mangano about his promise until necessary services are provided to all limit English proficient residents."
Maryann Slutsky, Executive Director of Long Island Wins, said, "This is a policy that works for all Nassau County residents – English speaking and non-english speaking. In order to keep our community safe, all residents need to understand emergency services. We need the implementation of Language Access now."
Gabriela Castillo, Staff Attorney at SEPA Mujer, said, "We are happy to gather today with allies, partners, and community members for this very important cause. At the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, we're asking that County Executive Mangano make real language access as much a priority as the token cultural events he is planning this month. We hope that we're able to work with the administration to finalize the implementation of a critical order that will make a real difference in residents' lives, this month and every month."
Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said, "Language access is critical for Nassau County’s 130,000 limited English proficient residents who have been eagerly awaiting the implementation of this executive order since July 30th of this year. With the deadline passed, we are holding County Executive Ed Mangano accountable for his lack of action and we urge him to take immediate steps to begin its implementation.”
Liz O'Shaughnessy, Executive Director of CoLoKi, "Our member are part of the fabric of our communities, they keep our economy going and our communities strong. At the very least, they deserve to be understood if they've been hurt on the job, or need to call the police. County Executive Mangano depends on our communities – now we are waiting for him."
"County Executive Mangano is holding Nassau residents hostage by denying them language access," said Sister Rosalie Carven, of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. "When no one speaks their language, residents are hostage to the society around them because they can't communicate what they need. County Executive Mangano must take action now."
"We stand together with Nassau County's Chief Executive, Ed Mangano, in upholding the right to language access for the county's residents with limited English proficiency and call on him to honor his promise," said Luis Feliz, Lead Organizer at La Fuente-Long Island Civic Participation Project. "No one should be denied access to government agencies and services because they don't speak English. In order for recent immigrants to be civically engaged in the neighborhoods and communities where they live, to feel their worth validated and not tarnished, they must be included, in the full sense of that much touted word.