On National Voter Registration Day, Black & Latino Communities Celebrate Thousands of New Voters on Long Island



Press Contacts:
Steve McFarland, 516-366-0259steve@licivicengagement.org (Spanish & English)

On National Voter Registration Day, Black & Latino Communities Celebrate Thousands of New Voters on Long Island

Local Organizations & Advocates Mark National Day of Action with Major Electoral Push in African American, Latino and Immigrant Communities

BRENTWOOD, NY — With chants of “Our Voice, Our Vote” two dozen immigrant and worker advocates, backed by seventeen grassroots Long Island organizations, today celebrated National Voter Registration Day and announced over 2,000 new voter registrations collected in Black and Latino communities across Long Island. [Photos available for download here.]

The summer voter registration push, and today’s event for the National Voter Registration Day, were part of an escalating campaign by local community members and working-class and immigrant-advocacy organization to register and mobilize voters of color for crucial local elections on November 3rd. Advocates are working to win affordable housing, better schools and living wage jobs on Long Island.

Sonya Black, Suffolk County Organizer for New York Communities for Change, said, " With the work that we do within our communities, it is important for us to register voters. I suggest everyone go out and rock that vote because it is based on those issues and the supports of those who we are voting into office that make the difference in making the movement of bringing some type of change.

Frank Sprouse-Guzmán, a member of Make the Road New York, said, “Today, National Voter Registration day, is incredibly important because the vehicle of democracy moves with the power of voters. So I exhort I communities to remember that no matter how many protests and vigils we have for our rights to be respected, and to end the discrimination and injustice on Long Island, if we don’t also exercise our right to vote. This is our moment to say ‘no’ to the leaders who abuse us. We must use this right not only to fight for our children’s education, and to fight for all immigrants, but also to build a society of respect, and make our communities a better place to live."

“We’re proud to celebrate National Voter Registration Day, an unofficial national holiday, because our communities know that elections matter here on Long Island, and this year we have collected registrations of more than 2,000 Long Islanders in Black and Latino communities.” said Alejandra Sorto, Organizer for the Long Island Civic Engagement Table. “It’s not just presidential candidates talking about revoking birthright citizenship at the national level. Here on Long Island, we have critical local elections in November for Nassau District Attorney and Suffolk County Executive, and this voter registration effort is just the start of our work.”

Jessica Reyes, of SEPA Mujer, said, " Being part of the Movement Building Organizers program, we spent 6 weeks out in African American and Latino communities, like Brentwood and Hempstead, registering voters and informing them about the importance of voting in order to get the proper representation and change for our communities.

Leila Ensha, Public Affairs Coordinator for Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, said, “Here on Long Island, Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic and Planned Parenthood of Nassau County are partnering with our patients, with communities of color, and with college students to help everyone, regardless of political leanings, seize their power and vote.  We are talking to hundreds of everyday Long Islanders and are actively helping people register to vote.  Planned Parenthood is ready to ensure that the voices of all under-represented populations are heard and their votes are counted.”

“For far too long, legislators on Long Island have contradicted the values of the pro-choice majority of voters in Suffolk and Nassau Counties,” said NARAL Pro-Choice New York President Andrea Miller. “NARAL Pro-Choice New York is thrilled to work alongside our progressive allies to ensure that the voting public best reflects Long Island’s pro-choice population.”

George Siberón, Executive Director of the Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association, said, “We want everyone in our communities to register, and to come out and vote. It’s by voting that we win our right and make changes – including to push candidates to change the kind of rhetoric we’ve heard lately about immigration. The next president will appoint a new Supreme Court Justice, and those decisions last a lifetime. So let’s get out there to register, and then to vote!"

Blanca Villanueva, of the Alliance for Quality Education, said, “Every day, parents, students, and teachers fight hard to make sure our children have a high quality education in New York’s public schools. But although we fight hard, we are fighting against hedge fund billionaires who are trying to privatize our schools and our buying our legislators. Although we may never have billions of dollars, we have our voting power. This is why it is so crucial for us to register to vote, and to get out to vote – during primaries, special elections, in November. We must exercise our right to make sure our legislators represent our communities and our voices.”

Amol Sinha, Suffolk Couty Chapter Director for the New York Civil Liberties Union, said, “Fifty years ago, the United States passed the Voting Rights Act. And still today, we’re fighting for that right. There are still those in power who are trying to make it more difficult for Americans to vote, especially in communities of color. And that’s why it’s so urgent for people to be registered, to organize, and for communities to voice their collective power to people in office. Today we’re here to do just that: to make sure our leaders know that this is what America looks like. It’s important to vote in local elections, to make sure the people whose policies most directly impact our lives hear our power.”

“It’s a mistake for people to think of citizenship and the right to vote as only creating a US identity. It creates a partnership between the people and their government. But a partner who is silent is no partner at all” said Sister Rosalie Carven, from the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Brentwood. “I encourage everyone to register to vote, and when you do vote, vote all the time, any time you can!”

“For communities to thrive, every individual, at every socio-economic level must have the opportunities to do so.” said Gwen O’Shea, President/CEO of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island. “Having elected officials that fight for economic and social justice allows for that opportunity.  Empowering individuals, in particular those most vulnerable, to use their vote as their voice, is a key component to achieving this.  We’re proud to be part of this collective effect that strives to ensure everyone’s voice and vote is heard.”


Thousands of Black & Latino Voters to be Registered on LI in Advance of Local Elections



Press Contacts:
Steve McFarland, 516-366-0259steve.mcfarland@maketheroadny.org (Spanish & English)

Thousands of Black & Latino Voters to be Registered on LI in Advance of Local Elections

Immigrants, Civil Rights Advocates, and Allies Launch Major Campaign to Build Power and Win Immigration and Police Reforms in Upcoming Countywide Elections

PATCHOGUE, NY — On the steps of a church where community leaders once denounced the hate-motivated killing of Ecuadoran immigrant Marcelo Lucero, Latino and African-American advocates today announced a major campaign to register and mobilize voters of color in advance of November's countywide elections. Over chants of "Vote for Respect!," two dozen representatives of youth and civil rights advocacy organizations said they had already begun months of hard work to build electoral participation and leadership from Hempstead and Westbury to Bayshore and Brentwood. [Event photos here, available for publication.]

Over one dozen organizations are participating in the coordinated campaign, which seeks to bolster to turnout in a local election year, when participation often dips. Organizers said African-American, Latino, and immigrant communities had a great deal at stake this year, including continuing to win pro-immigrant reforms in Suffolk County, where County Executive Steve Bellone is up for reelection, and on police reform and educational justice in Nassau County, where a hotly contested race for District Attorney is forming.

This year’s campaign counts in part on the participation of youth, including members of Make the Road NY, New York Communities for Change (NYCC), SEPA Mujer and Strong Youth. Along with Long Island Civic Engagement Table, these organizations plan to collect over 2,500 voter registrations through the summer. The event also included the participation and support of organizations such as the New York Immigration Coalition, Long Island Wins, La Fuente, Long Island Progressive Coalition, the Sisters of St. Joseph, Long Beach Latino Civic Association, and Centro Corazon de Maria Hampton Bays.

Marcy Suarez, Youth Organizer for Make the Road New York, said, “Our vote has the power to change our schools, our laws, and the way our government responds to the needs of low income, working class communities of color across Long Island that we organize. Our vote is the power we hold as a community. Many people fought hard and died for us to have the right to vote and we will be working hard from now until November to get people, especially young people, from our communities out to the polls”

Sonya Black, Suffolk Organizer for New York Communities from Change, said, “It's important for our communities to get out and vote. That's why NYCC is working across Nassau and Suffolk counties to register hundreds of voters and to knock on doors and speak to 11,000 voters of color this year about the issues at stake this election – from educational justice and police reform to fair housing and clean, healthy parks and neighborhoods. Working families are struggling on Long Island, but this voter registration campaign is the first step in winning sensible, progressive policy to get Long Island working for all.”

Patrick Young, Program Director of the Central American Refugee Center, said, "We work with hundreds of immigrants ever year, to assist with naturalization and to help them become citizens. The number one reason our clients want to become citizens is so they can register to vote. Local elections are vitally important for Latino communities, and we are glad to be a part of this effort."

Alejandra Sorto, Organizer for the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, said, “Long Island’s Latino and African American community is growing, and as we grow we are building voter power, working to make sure that communities of color have a voice that elected officials cannot ignore. More than any other election, local policy affects our daily lives: whether county government speaks our language, or our children are safe from police brutality. We are registering over 3,000 voters this year and will work with them through the fall to make sure all our people vote for respect in November.”

"SEPA Mujer believes that in order to make the voices of the Latina immigrant women that we represent and serve be heard, we must act diligently to make sure our community votes and our issues be heard! Change will happen if we pressure candidates to represent us justly", said Dulce Rojas,  Community Organizer for SEPA Mujer.

“As we get closer to the 2015 county elections and with the 2016 Presidential elections around the corner, the New York Immigration Coalition, an umbrella group of more than 150 organizations serving and advocating for immigrants in New York State, is committed to ensuring that immigration is a frontline issue in every electoral conversation. We look forward to working with our Long Island partners to make sure that immigrant Long Islanders have a strong voice when it comes to electing who represents them,” said Steve Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

Sister Rosalie Carven, of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood, said, “We need to tell People who are not registered to vote that "they have to be in it to win it" - participation in civil decision making that is.  And our political leaders need to understand that there is no ‘silent majority’ living in our neighborhoods any more.”

"There is so much on the line in local elections,” said Dan Fingas, Organizing Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition. “Our town and county elected officials decide on important issues like access to affordable housing, public transportation, and just policing.  That's why we need every eligible voter registered and every registered voter to vote this November."


Nassau Residents, Advocates Call on Legislators to Demand Compliance on Language Access



Press Contacts:
Steve McFarland, 516-366-0259steve.mcfarland@maketheroadny.org
Martha Maffei, 631-980-2555mmaffei@sepamujer.org
Cheryl Keshner, (631) 650-2317, ckeshner@empirejustice.org

Nassau Residents, Advocates Call on Legislators to Demand Compliance on Language Access

With County Executive Mangano Failing to Implement his own Executive Orders, Advocates Move to Pressure Legislature to Demand Compliance

MINEOLA — Dozens of Nassau County immigrants and their allies spoke at the County Legislature hearing today, demanding leadership from County Legislators in securing compliance from County Executive Mangano’s administration with its own Executive Orders 67 and 72, issued in 2013 to guarantee language assistance services at county agencies to the estimated 130,000 Nassau County residents with limited English proficiency.

While these critical orders should have been fully implemented by July of 2014, the Mangano administration has not taken the necessary steps or invested the necessary resources to implement them. The result is that County government services remain largely inaccessible for the 130,000 Nassau County residents with limited English proficiency. Many of these people are elderly, disabled or newly arrived immigrants. Lack of language access endangers community members who need emergency assistance during a crisis and puts entire communities as risk.

Backed by two dozen supporters, five community members and advocates testified at the legislature, sharing experiences of being turned away from the Department of Social Services and the Nassau County police, including one incident which put a family's food stamp benefits at risk. Advocates shared that they had engaged in another round of compliance testing in recent weeks, and found appalling shortcomings, including county workers who laughed at or hung up on limited English proficient clients.

The coalition of community members and grassroots organizations asked Nassau legislators to sign a joint letter demanding action from the Nassau County Executive.

Steve McFarland, Coordinator of the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, said, “In politics, it’s results that matter and the County Executive Ed Mangano has not delivered on his commitment to implement language access at county agencies, making sure that Nassau County works for all its residents. When interactions with the police and social services don’t have competent interpretation, this can be a life or death issue that affects constituents from Hicksville to Five Towns. It’s time for the Legislature to step up and demand action and demand results from Mr. Mangano.”

Cheryl Keshner, of the Empire Justice Center and Long Island Language Advocates Coalition, said, "Nassau County Executive Mangano has failed to follow through on numerous promises to provide interpretation  and translation  services at county agencies. These services are not only a county requirement, but also a federal requirement under Title Vi of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, We are here today to call upon the Nassau County legislature to uphold the law and to take a stand against national origin discrimination in Nassau County. "

Keiko Cervantes-Ospina, Supervising Attorney New York Legal Assistance Group, said, "Recently a client of ours was sanctioned by the Department of Social Services resulting in the loss of her food stamps after a meeting with DSS where she was not able to participate in a meaningful way because she was not provided adequate interpretation services.  We believe situations like this are avoidable.  Uniform compliance with language access Executive Orders across County agencies will ensure equitable access to programs and benefits. It needs to start with staff and personnel training and it needs to start now."

Helen Dorado Alessi, Chief Consultant for Long Beach Latino Civic Association, said, “Language access legislation is at the heart of true democracy. It enables our government to be transparent and accountable to th very people it’s mort important to. In Long Beach our city has collaborate with the LB Latino Civic Association and to plan a referendum being brought to the city council in the coming weeks. I call on Nassau County to follow the lead of our leaders in Long Beach.”

Victoria Daza, Organizer for Long Island Jobs with Justice, said, “As a county with a growing immigrant, population, Nassau County has the responsibility to provide language access to all its constituents. Failure to do so, would continue to make services unattainable for a large number of Nassau residents."

“The NYIC is committed to providing immigrant communities across the state of New York with the necessary tools to encourage integration and participation.” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. "Language Access remains one of the most important issues to address in Nassau county. We are asking County Executive Ed Mangano to make sure executive orders 67 and 72 go into effect in the county agencies as soon as possible."

Gabriela Castillo, Staff Attorney for SEPA Mujer, said, “For immigrant victims of domestic violence, meaningful access to necessary services in a language they can understand is a necessity and can mean the difference between life and death. Unfortunately,many pleas may go unanswered if such services are not being adequately provided. We have seen too many times how the system can fail a victim attempting to leave a dangerous situation. By not implementing an Executive Order signed into place to provide for such protections, Nassau County is failing our community and our families. We need affirmative and concrete steps to ensure the FULL implementation of this Executive Order. Anything else is simply unacceptable and is playing with the lives of many of Nassau County’s most vulnerable populations.”

Rev. Ken Graham, a pastor in the Presbyterian Church USA, testified, “The Presbyterian Church prides itself on its efforts to welcome strangers in its midst. We call on the county to share in this commitment, to providing full language accessibility. Together, we must make Nassau County a place we are all proud of, and all may continue to live in and contribute to.”

Amal Wahib, Board Member of the Domestic Harmony Foundation, said, “Immigrant and Limited English Proficient Long Islanders have been waiting for action on language acccess, but at social services and shelters across the county, they are being left out to dry. The County owes its residents language access plans, competent services, and real action. At the very least, Nassau owes its residents respect, but many clients do not even receive that. These are our tax dollars, and the lack of action is ridiculous. It’s time for action.”


LI Immigrants, Allies Are Confident US Fifth Court of Appeals Will Reject Politically-Motivated Lawsuit


Press Contacts:

Steve McFarland (English & Spanish), Long Island Civic Engagement Table, steve.mcfarland@maketheroadny.org; 516-366-0259
Walter Barrientos (English & Spanish)
, Make the Road NY, walter.barrientos@maketheroadny.org; 631-671-8208


LI Immigrants, Allies Are Confident US Fifth Court of Appeals Will Reject Politically-Motivated Lawsuit

Undeterred by political attacks, Long Island immigrants continue to prepare for new immigration programs and organize to keep families together

LONG ISLAND — Today, Long Island immigrant families are undeterred by a preliminary injunction issued by a George W. Bush appointed federal judge in Texas, putting a temporary hold on President Obama's deferred action program aimed to bring safety and security to million of working immigrant families.

Immigrants and advocates, who are confident the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will reject the politically-motivated lawsuit, are urging the Circuit Court to act swiftly. The legality of executive actions such as the President's Deferred Action programs has been repeatedly upheld and immigrants continue preparations for the program as they await the Circuit Court's decision on a program which would keep families safe from deportation while they work and live in their communities, including thousands of immigrants across Long Island.

Lucrecia Muñoz, a Westbury parent and member of Make the Road New York, said "The judge's decision affects the integrity of many families in our community. It affects our health, our economy – because people want to take care of their families, want to find work, and they are trying to destroy our families. We are ready for the expanded program President Obama has promised, and for the higher court to follow the law and allow the program to proceed."

“Immigrants on Long Island are moving forward regardless of today’s ruling, and will continue getting ready for the deferred action programs that will give tens of thousands of Long Islanders the chance to live, work, and stay in America with their families,” said Maryann Sinclair Slutsky, Executive Director of Long Island Wins. 

Patrick Young, Program Director of the Central American Refugee Center, said, "The decision by a conservative judge to block immigration relief for DREAMs just a day before the new program was to go into effect was cruel and disruptive. The DREAMs of hundreds of thousands of young people are being held hostage by a politically driven agenda"

Gabriela Castillo, Immigration Attorney for SEPA Mujer, said, "We are disappointed with the ruling that will block executive actions on immigration from moving forward, but we are confident and optimistic that the injunction will be lifted and the programs allowed to move forward.  Lawsuits challenging the executive branch’s authority on immigration are nothing more than political play by his opponents and we are looking forward to seeing a reversal to this preliminary injunction."

Jobs with Justice Long Island organizer Victoria Daza said, "The Texas injunction against Deferred Action is an assault on the rights of thousands of workers and students who have trusted the federal government with their immigration information.  We urge the president to take action and protect the Deferred Action Program."

Sister Rosalie Carven, of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, added, "The Sisters of St. Joseph want to be on record that we support the President's Executive Relief under DACA and DAPA initiatives and we hope that there will be action to reverse the injunction that came down in Texas.  Our message is:  We cannot turn out backs on the value of compassion for children and families.  Protecting them is a humane imperative and a deeply-held American value.  This must remain the driving force behind support for relief from deportation for children and their parents."



Immigrant Long Islanders Celebrate President Obama's Administrative Action Announcement to Protect Immigrant Families



Press Contacts:

Amy Richards (English & Spanish), Long Island Civic Engagement Table amy.richards@maketheroadny.org; 631-355-1685


Immigrant Long Islanders Celebrate President Obama's Administrative Action Announcement to Protect Immigrant Families

Policy estimated to shield millions from deportation, keep families together 

BRENTWOOD — Today, Long Islanders celebrated President Obama's announcement of administrative action to protect millions of undocumented immigrant from senseless deportations.  The President's new policy, which will provide deferred action to undocumented parents and families of United States citizens, will provide a needed reprieve for millions of families and enable immigrant families to stay together. Long Island immigrants and community members gathered to watch and celebrate the announcement, while re-affirming their commitment to fighting for the same protections and a path to citizenship for all eleven million undocumented immigrants. Community members and allies issued the following statements [Photos available here]:

Kimberlyn Cuero, a high school senior in Brentwood who is a member of Make The Road NY, said “This executive action will benefit me because I will have a work permit for longer and my mom will not have to live in fear of deportation. She will be able to work. My two little sisters are documented, so if she gets deported, we will be left here alone.” 

Pat Young, Program Director at CARECEN, said "30,000-50,000 immigrants on Long Island will benefit directly from the President's announcement today. Their families and our communities will also benefit. Long Island's immigrants have worked hard to make today happen. They will not tolerate this achievement being rolled back by Congress."

Steve McFarland, coordinator of the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, said “This afternoon we celebrate President Obama’s action to provide long-awaited relief from deportation, for millions. Amidst tears of joy and excitement, we stand by one another as a community to continue fight for reform. We give thanks today for this sweeping action, but will keep pushing for a system that keeps our families together.” 

Maryann Sinclair Slutsky, Executive Director of Long Island Wins, said "President Obama's leadership on executive action last night is a monumental step toward meaningful immigration reform. Five million immigrants will benefit from this by being able to live, work and stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation. But we must not forget those human lives that were left out of this program. We will continue to fight for just and fair reform.”

Gabriela Castillo, an immigration attorney with SEPA Mujer, said “While we applaud President Obama’s effort to provide temporary relief to a large number of immigrant families across the United States, we also acknowledge that more needs to be done to protect the millions of well deserving immigrants who were left out of this relief.  We must hold our elected officials in Congress accountable and demand they do their job.  It is time to stop playing politics with the lives of so many vulnerable and hard-working immigrants.”

Sister Rosalie A. Carven with the Sisters of St. Joseph, said “Today President Obama has the title of ‘Good Samaritan in-chief’. Immigrant families stripped by deportation are being rescued. There are more people to be helped, but this is a start. I say to Congress ‘Go and do likewise’.”

Victoria Daza, Immigration organizer with Jobs With Justice, said "We commend the President for using his executive authority and stepping up for the rights of immigrants. Administrative relief will open the doors for educational and employment opportunities that have been denied for far too long. We must not forget though, that this is merely a stopgap solution that still leaves millions of children, families and workers unprotected and in the shadows, but we will continue moving forward."

Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said "We thank the President for having the courage to use his executive authority to take a historic step for immigrant rights and civil rights, and send a message to Congress that no one benefits from the separation of immigrant families. The President's action will provide a significant measure of justice for millions of undocumented immigrants living in fear of deportation. However, we do not forget those who remain without protection, and continue to call on Congress to stop the needless roadblocks and pass a comprehensive legislative solution.”

Sister Mary Beth Moore from the Centro Corazón de María of Hampton Bays, said "I echo the sentiments of our Latino women's group, Mujeres Sin Fronteras  [Women without Borders] who are very grateful for Obama's immigration relief.  At the same time, we are even more determined to work for full comprehensive immigration reform, so that the unity of immigrant families is protected by law.”

Dafny J. Irizarry, President of the Long Island Latino Teachers Association, “This is a victory for our country's values and the many promises and dreams of our immigrants families. This action gives opportunities to many of our students who will contribute to elevate the powerful spirit of this country."

Make the Road New York and CARECEN will begin educating community members about the new policy and screening community members for eligibility immediately following the announcement, as the first step in the process to providing application services to community members.  

Media availability: in-person interviews with affected residents at our office in Brentwood. Press visits to screening workshops can also be arranged.

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In LI's Hottest Senate Race, Voters of Color & Immigrants Mobilize for Minimum Wage, School Funding



Press Contacts:

Steve McFarland (English & Spanish), Long Island Civic Engagement Table steve.mcfarland@maketheroadny.org516-336-0259
Maryann Sinclair Slutsky (English), Long Island Wins, mslutsky@longislandwins.com516-506-3505

In LI's Hottest Senate Race, Voters of Color & Immigrants Mobilize for Minimum Wage, School Funding

100+ Demand Key Legislation at Brentwood Community and Candidate Forum

BRENTWOOD — With just two weeks to go in Long Island's most closely-watched state senate election, over 100 immigrants and voters of color filled the public library here on Wednesday night for a community and candidate forum focused on key pieces of state legislation: the New York DREAM Act, an increase to the minimum wage, and adequate funding for public schools. [Photos available here.]

District residents shared personal testimony about reforms that will have a profound effect on the working class agenda, and have long been blocked in the New York State Senate.

Both Republican Tom Croci and Democratic candidate Adrienne Esposito were invited, and Esposito attended the forum, fielding responding to questions about these and other issues.

Miriam Elaraby, member of Make the Road New York, “Tonight is important because we have to make our politicians understand that this policy is not optional—it’s a must-have for Long Island People are drowning under the high cost of living. When people drown, the community drowns with it. ”

Rosa Quiles, a member of New York Communities for Change, said, "Adequate funding for our public schools will benefit our children right now. Smaller class sizes, AP courses. Kids have multiple intelligences and we must discover them! I'm pleased to hear Ms. Esposito's position on school funding and am proud of the community turnout tonight. My community will be voting on this issue on November 4th!"

"It's tremendously imporant for our communities of color in Brentwood and across Suffolk County to come together and speak about the issues that affect our daily lives," said Janeth Niebla-Galaviz, Suffolk County Organizer for the Long Island Civic Engagement Table. "We will be turning out to vote on November 4th, and will continue to hold our elected officials accountable after the election."

"The large turnout for this forum demonstrates how engaged the immigrant community is on the the issues that matter most to them," said Maryann Slutsky, Executive Director of Long Island Wins. "Immigrants and voters of color are turning out to vote for quality life in their communities."


Nassau Voters Call for Action on Minimum Wage, School Funding at Westbury Forum



Press Contacts:

Steve McFarland (English & Spanish), Long Island Civic Engagement Table steve.mcfarland@maketheroadny.org516-336-0259
Maryann Sinclair Slutsky (English), Long Island Wins, mslutsky@longislandwins.com516-506-3505

Nassau Voters Call for Action on Minimum Wage, School Funding at Westbury Forum

State Senate forum, attended by Haber, demonstrates growing voter engagement from immigrants and communities of color 

WESTBURY — One summer soccer program suffers because over half its students require remedial summer classes. A working father struggles to pay the rising costs of rent while supporting his immigrant family. The stories were as diverse as the room of over 60 community members at the "Yes We Can" Community Center here on Thursday night, all calling for strong leadership on a slate of progressive reforms proposed in the state legislature. [Photos available here.]

The non-partisan forum – the first in a two-part series co-hosted by the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, Noticia, and Long Island Wins, will be followed by a Brentwood forum on October 22nd. Speakers at the event called for widespread voter turnout this election from Senate District 7's large population of voters of color, and featured a question and answer session with candidate Adam Haber, covering a range of issues.

Make the Road New York member Miguel Angel Jimenez said, "We are immigrants. We come to this country for a dream and work to support our families, but the minimum wage of $8.25 is exploitation. That's why we need to raise the wage, to be able to support our families and help our communities grow."

Diane Goins, chapter president of New York Communities for Change, said, "This election needs to be about the issues that affect working families in Long Island. Residents in neighborhoods like Westbury and new cases want their candidates to talk about raising wages and improving our public schools."

"Immigrants and voters of color are the engine of growth in Nassau County, and this Senate District is a perfect example of that change," said Steve McFarland, Coordinator of the Long Island Civic Engagement Table. "Issues like the minimum wage and school funding really matter to working class voters, and they will be turning out at the polls this November to make their voices heard. We're proud to have co-hosted this bilingual forum, and to be part of this growing movement."

"Tonight's forum was a great opportunity to hear about key issues facing Long Island voters," said Maryann Slutsky, Executive Director of Long Island Wins. "Forums like this are a good reminder that the elections this November will have a direct effect on the lives of voters and the communities they live in."

"Long Island Senators are a critical voting block in legislation that impact communities of color in the State of New York. Candidates' positions on key issues must be publicly shared to all voters and allow an educated electorate to decide who will best represent their interests in Albany," says Lucia Gomez, Executive Director of La Fuente. "If we are to move forward in this state, the days in which name recognition and partisan affiliation alone dictate the outcome of these seats must be put to rest.  Candidates must respond and listen to the concerns of all voters in their district, and this must be a prerequisite, not an option."

“The NYIC is committed to expanding opportunities for immigrant communities across New York State to be civically engaged in local government," said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. "We are excited to be part of this work on Long Island that is lifting up diverse community voices and empowering immigrants to advocate for issues that are important to them."


Nassau Immigrants & Allies Occupy County Exec Mangano’s Lobby in Mineola, Demand Action



Press Contact (English & Spanish):

Daniel Altschuler (Make the Road New York), 917-494-5922, daniel.altschuler@maketheroadny.org
Cheryl Keshner (Empire Justice Center), 631-650-2317, ckeshner@empirejustice.org
Lucas Sánchez, New York Communities for Change, 646-600-2426, lsanchez@nycommunities.org

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.


On National Voter Registration Day, Massive Push by L.I. Immigrants and Voters of Color



Press Contact:
Steve McFarland, 516-366-0259, steve.mcfarland@maketheroadny.org (English & Spanish)

On National Voter Registration Day, Massive Push by L.I. Immigrants and Voters of Color

Over 20 L.I. Faith, Labor, and Community Organizations Take Part in National Action, Registering 3,000+ In Time for Mid-Term Elections

BRENTWOOD, NY — "If you want it, you need to vote, vote, vote!" sang Polly Henry, a Jamaican immigrant and graduate of the Parent Leadership Initiative. Henry joined nearly 40 other Long Island community leaders and advocates to mark National Voter Registration Day, a coordinated day of actions across the country designed to ensure that all eligible voters exercise their right. The voter registration deadline in New York State is October 10. With hotly contested congressional and State Senate races on the ballot in November, grassroots, faith, and labor organizations are making a massive push to register working class voters of color and reported that they have already registered over 3,000 new voters. [Photos available for download here.]

"Women and people of color were denied the right to vote, but never again!" said Janet Farfan, a member of Make the Road New York. "We fought for the right to vote and now it gives us the power to secure a future for our communities with respect and dignity!"

Diane Goins, President of the New York Communities for Change Long Island Chapter, said, "More than ever people need to register to vote. People need to know that elections do matter and that at the local level important decisions are made every day that affect your life directly by your government representatives. We will continue to work hard so that more people of color in our communities are registered, active and informed voters that will vote in candidates that will do good for our communities."

Janeth Niebla-Galaviz, Suffolk Organizer for the Long Island Civic Engagement Table, "It’s an honor for us be here celebrating National Voter Registration Day with over 20 community organizations. Community groups and service providers across Long Island are registering new Americans and voters of colors like never before. We've registered over 2,500 voters and are knocking on over 20,000 doors. All Long Islanders want to the best for our communities, and working class voters will be making their voices heard this year on the issues that we care about most."

Gina D'Andrea Weatherup, Community Affairs and Advocacy Manager for Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, said, "Today on National Voter Registration Day, Planned Parenthood takes advantage of our unique ability to engage young people and single women.  Here on Long Island, Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic and Planned Parenthood of Nassau County are partnering with our patients, communities of color, and young people to help everyone, regardless of political leanings, seize their power and vote.  We've already talked to hundreds of everyday Long Islanders and are actively helping people register to vote.  Planned Parenthood is ready to ensure that the voices of all under-represented populations are heard and their votes are counted."

“This year’s mid-term election is of huge importance to our communities, nationally and locally," said Gabriela Castillo, SEPA Mujer Staff Attorney. "A well-informed, active participant in the voting process holds the power to effect change and hold elected officials accountable.  Registering to vote is the first step to empowering ourselves and our communities.  SEPA Mujer recognizes the significance of National Voter Registration Day and is proud to be participating and partnering up with our allies in this effort."

“Voting is a powerful tool that individuals can use to ensure that government is truly representative and that elected officials are working hard on the issues that are important to their constituents. For too long, the most vulnerable on Long Island have been disconnected from this basic right. Increasing voter participation is critical for making Long Island a region that works for everyone,” said Gwen O’Shea, President/CEO of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island.

"You can see in Hempstead, where the school district is 70% Latino, the importance of registering to vote and making our voices heard." said George Siberón, Executive Director of the Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association. "Our vote has tremendous power, and we are proud to be registering voters to build our community’s power for October, November, and beyond."

Jeffrey L. Reynolds, President & CEO of Family and Children's Association said, “Elections have significant consequences for our clients and our communities. We are pleased to be part of this effort and committed to making sure that our region’s underserved populations have both a voice and a vote on November 4th and beyond.”

"It is important for us to register to vote so our voices can be heard on matters that directly impact our communities and way of life," said Rashad Mitchell, Organizer with the Long Island Progressive Coalition. "The Long Island Progressive Coalition is mobilizing like never before, united like never before, today is a sign of that now is the moment to register and get engaged!"

Blanca A.Villanueva, Education Organizer for the Alliance for Quality Education, said, “One of the most important issues facing parents today is ensuring quality education in communities of needs. We need to elect candidates who support fully and adequately funding our schools; this is impossible to do if you are not registered to vote."

Francis Madi, Long Island Organizer for the New York Immigration Coalition, said, "On National Voter Registration Day (NVRD) today in Long Island, the NYIC is excited to joined our allies and partners to get out the vote and register to immigrant communities and to support integration of our communities into civic life," said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. "All over New York and in Long Island, the immigrant vote will make a huge difference in who is elected into office. We are happy to supports the integration of immigrant communities into civic life."

"The right to vote has no value if you don't use it. Everyone must register and vote wisely," said Rafi Fazli, Director of the American Muslim Voter Club.

Mimi Pierre Johnson, Vice-President of the Haitian American Political Action Committee, said "As a non-partisan immigrant organization HAPAC continues to educate and advocate on many issues that concerns our members and community. We encourage voters registration to make sure our voices are heard through the electoral process."

"We need to vote so that we can be the voice for our children who cannot vote yet," said Polly Henry, a graduate of the Parent Leadership Initiative. "It is so easy when you feel disenfranchised to say 'my vote doesn't matter' but that is why it matters even more. Our children's lives depend on it."

Shanequa Levin, Campaign Director for Every Child Matters - Long Island, said, “If kids could vote, they'd vote for someone who would step up for kids who Live in poverty; Face hunger and homelessness; Have no early learning opportunities; Are left alone after school; Lack quality health care; and Suffer from abuse and neglect.  Be a child's voice by registering to vote and electing someone who will step up for kids. Strong kids = Strong America.”

Hudson River Healthcare’s President and CEO, Anne Kauffman Nolon said, “HRHCare is proud to offer our patients non-partisan voter registration. We understand the connection of participation between both personal health and policy decisions. Our goal is to empower our patients to live healthy lives.”

“The most direct way for our communities to influence policy is through voting and civic engagement," said Charles Fox, Senior Coordinator for Community Services for the Economic Opportunity Commission of Suffolk County. "For the clients and communities we serve, local policy often matters more than national issues: from social service funding, to school resources, to public parks. We're proud to be a part of National Voter Registration Day, and an effort that has the power to alter the political landscape.”


Long Island Immigrants and Advocates Rect to News of Obama Immigration Acton Delay



Press Contact:

Daniel Altschuler, Make the Road New York, 917-494-5922 (English / Spanish)

Maryann Slutsky, Long Island Wins, 516-506-3505

Pat Young, CARECEN, 516-455-5612

Long Island Immigrants and Advocates React to News of Pres. Obama Immigration Action Delay

BRENTWOOD, NY — In response to the New York Times report today that President Obama announcement will delay administrative relief for immigrant families until after the mid-term elections, Long Island immigrants and advocates today expressed deep frustration with the President for failing to keep his promise of action this summer.

Javier H. Valdés, co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York, stated: "President Obama has once again raised and dashed the hopes of immigrant families across the country. This latest delay will result in thousands of deportations and continued pain and fear across our communities. Sadly, these disappointments are no longer surprising, and we will escalate to hold all parties accountable for their lack of action to keep our families together."

Ana Flores, member of New York Communities for Change, said, “More than ever today we are disappointed by the President's failure to deliver for millions of immigrant families who work hard to make our communities stronger. Immigrant families like mine will not let this stop us from continuing to organize and push our government to recognize the contributions that immigrant families make to this country and give them the respect and dignity they deserve. If anything President Obama is inspiring me to work harder for immigrant rights on Long Island."

Patrick Young, Program Director of the Central American Refugee Center, said, “President Obama's failure to act is yet another disappointment from the White House. Politics should not derail the crafting of a fairer immigration policy.”

Maryann Sinclair Slutsky, Executive Director of Long Island Wins, said "We are bitterly disappointed that the President is delaying administrative relief for the 11 million people who are victims of our broken immigration system. President Obama gave us false hope on Friday and in less than 24 hours dashed those hopes with his announcement today. This delay will have tragic consequences for our families who will be ripped apart in the coming months. We will continue to fight for justice for our families and hope our nation's leaders will take action and fix our broken immigration system."

Robert Socoloff, Long Island Director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), said, "AJC will continue to work to fix the broken system of immigration in keeping with the core Jewish values of Welcoming the Stranger and Keeping the Family Together. We know that a reformed system of immigration will strengthen the security of the United States."