Immigrant Action Announces Initial Endorsements for September 2017 Primary Election

New York, NY — Today, Immigrant Action (The New York State Immigrant Action Fund), one of the largest 501(c)(4) immigrant rights groups in the country, announced their initial six endorsements for the September 12 Primary Election. All of these candidates have demonstrated a commitment to protecting immigrants and refugees in New York city in these scary times and fighting for concrete victories for New York immigrant communities.

Steven Choi, Executive Director of Immigrant Action, commented, “Immigrant Action is dedicated to supporting candidates and elected officials who will fight for immigrant communities and support humane immigrant policies. These six candidates represent the values that Immigrant Action fights for, and that New York immigrant communities care about. We are proud to support their candidacies.”

“In his time in the District Attorney’s office Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez has gone above and beyond to serve Brooklyn’s immigrant communities. His leadership in minimizing the collateral immigration consequences of low level criminal convictions, including the hiring of two immigration attorneys to advise the department, means that fewer Brooklyn families will be ripped apart. We are proud to support his candidacy in the Brooklyn District Attorney race.”

“As Chair of the Immigration Subcommittee of the New York City Council, Councilman Carlos Menchaca has proved time and time again his willingness and ability to go to bat for New York’s immigrant communities. Whether its continually showing up to protest Trump’s anti-immigrant policies or fighting for fair and just funding for immigrant legal services, Councilman Menchaca has made protecting and fighting for immigrant families one of his top priorities. We are proud to endorse him in his re-election bid for the 38th District.”

Carlina Rivera (CD 02), Marjorie Velazquez (CD 13), Dylan Schwartz (CD 51) and Rev. Khader El-Yateem (CD 43), will all bring an immigrant focused and fresh perspective to the New York City Council. The districts they are running to represent span four of the five boroughs of New York, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island and Brooklyn, and showcase the diversity of immigrant communities and needs in New York City. We are excited to support these stellar candidates in their Primary Elections.”

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The Border Wall - An Annotated Timeline


June 16, 2015: And nobody builds walls better than me...
Trump announces his campaign for the presidency and first mentions his idea to build a southern border wall.

"I will build a great wall -- and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me --and I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words."

June 2015 - November 2016: Rile up the crowds!
Trump with frightening regularity uses a call and response with his crowds to reinforce his promise to build a wall and vilify immigrants from Mexico and Central and South America.

November 13, 2016: A fence is just as good as a wall. 
Trump appears on 60 Minutes after his Electoral College victory and suddenly the impenetrable, 30 foot high wall becomes a "fence."

STAHL (60 Minutes): You’re-- you know, they are talking about a fence in the Republican Congress, would you accept a fence?
TRUMP: For certain areas I would, but certain areas, a wall is more appropriate. I’m very good at this, it’s called construction...there could be some fencing.

January 11, 2017: Mexico is totally paying for some the future.
In what would turn out to be the first of many unhinged press conferences by President Trump, he clarifies that Mexico might not be paying the upfront costs for the wall after all.

“I want to get the wall started. I don’t want to wait a year and a half until I make my deal with Mexico. They will reimburse us for the cost of the wall, whether it’s a tax or whether it’s a payment. Probably less likely that it’s a payment.”

January 25, 2017: Oh hey, I'm the President now.
As one of his first acts as President, Trump signs the "Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements" executive order that instructs the Secretary of Department of Homeland Security to begin the process of constructing the "wall."

The EO includes four specific points:
-Taking steps to plan, design, and construct a physical wall,
-Diverting all possible current funding to pay for the wall,
-Figuring out the short- and long-term funding needs of the wall, and
-Completing a study of the southern border to inform the plans for the wall.

January 27, 2017: Mexican President reconsiders friendly jaunt to the north.
After Trump floats a trial balloon of taxing Mexican imports 20 percent to pay for the wall, Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto cancels his trip to the White House.

"Mexico does not believe in walls. I've said time again; Mexico will not pay for any wall."

February 6, 2017: Congressional Republicans aren't too sure about this whole thing.
After the Republican Congressional retreat, many lawmakers are expressing skepticism that the border wall is worth the price tag and are demanding that Trump offer off-sets for the cost. Even Texas' own Senator, John Cornyn, isn't convinced: "I have concerns about spending un-offset money, which adds to the debt, period. I don't think we're just going to be able to solve border security with a physical barrier because people can come under, around it and through it."

February 9, 2017: Exactly how much is this wall going to cost?
A leaked report from the Department of Homeland Security puts the cost of building the wall (and fencing) at around three times as much as Trump originally estimated, $21 billion in total, and estimates that construction will take at least three years to complete. Womp, womp. Fun fact: the report does not take into account "major physical barriers, like mountains, in areas where it would not be feasible to build."

February 22, 2017: Let's go to the border!
House Speaker Paul Ryan, along with a few of his Republican colleagues, toured the southern border and met with CBP officers. I mention this only to be able to include this photo. 

February 24, 2017: Who has ideas about how to build this thing?
Customs and Border Protection announce they will be seeking proposals to design and build "prototype wall structures" in anticipation of receiving the funding from Congress. DHS Secretary John Kelly, in his first time testifying before Congress, clarified that, “We're not going to be able to build a wall everywhere all at once" and that Border Patrol agents preferred fencing to a wall so they could see what was happening on the other side. Of course.

Also today, Trump told CPAC attendees that construction of a wall along the southern border is "way, way, way ahead of schedule" and building would "start very soon." So there's that.


Be in the Know - February 28 Edition

Let's see what's happened in the past week, and what we can look forward to for the next week:

  • Balancing the country's budget. President Trump has released vague details about his upcoming federal budget proposal in anticipation of his address to the joint section of Congress tonight. Highlights include massive increases to military spending and immigration enforcement, and cuts to social services, arts, science, education, foreign aid, etc... Over the next seven months we'll be focused on budget negotiations and the impact they will have on immigrant communities in New York. Read more about immigration and the federal budget in this Immigrant Action blog post.

  • DHS memos. DHS released two memos that provide the blueprint for implementing the Administration's cruel and unjust border and interior enforcement executive orders from the first weeks of his Administration.The memos propose making every undocumented immigrant a priority for deportation, expanding expedited removal and obliterating due process, and criminally prosecuting parents of undocumented children.

  • Reprieve for DACA? In his unhinged press conference last week, Donald Trump rambled about immigration policy a few times. After a direct question on DACA, Trump responded, "We are going to deal with DACA with heart. I have to deal with a lot of politicians, don't forget, and I have to convince them that what I'm saying is right." And in a heartening note, the FAQs for the DHS memos specifically state that DACA is not impacted.

  • Travel ban 2.0. We're expecting a revised Muslim and refugee travel ban executive order from Trump this week, possibly tomorrow. This new executive order, coming on the heels of the Ninth Circuit Court's decision to uphold the temporary restraining order, flies directly in the face of a new report from DHS. Spoiler alert, the report concludes that “country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity.” Doesn't seem like Trump wants to listen to his own agency.

  • Quote of the week (from the LA Times): "Behind President Trump’s efforts to step up deportations and block travel from seven mostly Muslim countries lies a goal that reaches far beyond any immediate terrorism threat: a desire to reshape American demographics for the long term and keep out people who Trump and senior aides believe will not assimilate."

Days in office: 40
Days until 2020 election: 1,344


Trump talks immigration in an unhinged press conference

In a sometimes rambling, often untrue, many times incoherent press conference, President Trump made a few comments regarding his future plans on immigration and the Muslim/refugee travel ban. We've pulled the (short) clips here so you don't have to watch the whole thing.

Trump on DACA repeal

Trump on Muslim and refugee ban roll out

Trump on his immigration policy over the first four weeks


Immigration Executive Orders and the Federal Budget

The Federal Budget - An Overview

In 2016, total spending for the United States totaled a little less than four trillion dollars. That’s a “4” followed by 12 zeros (4,000,000,000,000). The majority of that money comes from federal income taxes, corporate taxes and payroll taxes, basically, quite literally, that means you.

The United States has a complex, complicated, sometimes seemingly nonsensical process to determine how that money is spent. Well, truthfully, some of that money. Almost two thirds of the federal budget is actually set aside as mandatory spending (about $2.5 trillion) for entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. Neither Congress nor the president has any direct control on the specific amount of money allocated for these programs. Instead the money is allocated automatically based on the number of people eligible for the programs and the cost to cover them.

So, while Congress and the president can make policy changes to the entitlement programs that will in turn have an effect on the total spending for mandatory spending, like raising the social security retirement age or expanding prescription drug benefits, they cannot reduce or increase the budget by a specific dollar amount.

That leaves the remaining one third of the budget, about $1.1 trillion, as discretionary spending. These are the funds Congress and the president get to play around with--and sometime shut the government down over. By far the largest budget item in the discretionary funding is defense spending, which usually receives a little more than half of all discretionary funding (almost $600 billion in 2015). This leaves a little less than $600 billion for all other government spending programs, including programs like Head Start, Veterans Affairs, Education, and, of course, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, DHS received $41 billion in funding. While the Department has a number of responsibilities pertaining to the welfare of the country--such as managing counter-terrorism and cybersecurity threats, and disaster preparedness--the two specific sections of the Agency that have received the most attention from the White House in the first three weeks are ones that deal with enforcing the country’s immigration laws: Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Donald Trump, his Executive Orders and the Federal Budget

Donald Trump has issued multiple Executive Orders over the first three weeks of his administration, ranging on everything from instructing agencies to gut the Affordable Care Act, to dramatically rolling back financial regulations, to approving the contract for the Dakota pipeline. But two of these Executive Orders will have significant federal budget implications, requiring significant funding increases from Congress in order to be implemented. These are the two Orders calling for increasing immigration enforcement against immigrants and their families currently living in the United States and ramped up security and enforcement at the southern border. The human toll of these two Orders alone is hard to imagine, and the threats to due process rights and civil liberties of citizens and non-citizens alike will be huge.

Border Enforcement Executive Order - Background and Costs

What many people don’t know is that Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents have extraordinary authority that far exceeds other law enforcement agencies. When they are operating within 100 miles of the border they are not constrained by the same Fourth Amendment due process rights afforded to individuals outside of the 100 mile zone. So, for example, CBP officers can stop anyone at a checkpoint anywhere within 100 miles of the border without first establishing any suspicion of wrongdoing; they are allowed to board public transportation throughout border communities to question passengers; and within 25 miles of the border they are allowed to enter onto private property (although not homes) without a warrant or probable suspicion.

The other important thing to know is that roughly two-thirds of the United States' population lives within the 100-mile zone—that is, within 100 miles of a U.S. land or coastal border. That's about 200 million people. So CBP’s reach is far and wide, and important to understand.

Throughout the campaign Trump propagated dangerous falsehoods about the situation at the border, creating an illusion that the border was a lawless entity. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The United States is currently experiencing the lowest level of unauthorized border crossings in four decades, border communities are some of the safest in the nation and President Obama deported more immigrants than any other president in history. Trump was, in essence, promising to find a solution for a problem that does not exist.

But this Executive Order does actually offer a solution to a different problem for the President--how to convince a certain segment of American voters to blame immigrants and refugees for their social and economic woes rather than the anti-worker, anti-middle class policies that Trump’s Administration is pursuing. All of this would be bad enough, if not for the human and financial toll of his “solution.”

The Executive Order calls for the following increases to the DHS budget:

Construction of a “Border Wall”:

  • More than 650 miles of border fence already exists. According to DHS’ own assessment, the estimated cost of the remaining border wall segments will be $21.6 billion and take three and a half years to complete.

  • According to the FY 2017 DHS budget, $274 million was spent on border fence maintenance. If 1200 additional miles of wall are built, the conservative estimate is that the maintenance costs of the border wall will triple to more than $750 million annually.

Increase CBP agents by 5,000 (from current level of 21,370 Border Patrol agents)

  • Adding 5,000 CBP agents would cost approximately an additional $857 million per year, while border crossings and apprehensions by current CBP agents are at an historic lows.

  • In FY 2012, Customs and Border Protection was funded at $11.7 billion, an increase of 64% since FY 2006. In 2011, there were 21,444 border agents, nearly double the number in 2006, making far fewer apprehensions because border crossings are at an all time low. And FBI crime reports from 2010 show that violent crimes in southwest border states have dropped an average of 40 percent in the last 20 years.

Expand Immigration Detention Capacity:

  • The United States currently spends over $2 billion each year on immigration detention, about $5 million a day, to detain 34,000 immigrants every night. This Order seeks to dramatically expand the number of immigration detention beds available on a daily basis, specifically located at the southern border. Although the exact increase isn’t specified, any new construction of facilities or contracts with for-profit prison corporations will be a considerable expense to the taxpayer.

Interior Enforcement Executive Order - Background and Costs

During the Obama Administration, a number of priorities and procedures were established in order to focus DHS resources on deporting undocumented immigrants with serious criminal records. This Executive Order seeks to eliminate those stated priorities and makes any undocumented immigrant currently living in the United States a potential target for deportation, regardless of any mitigating factors (such as length of time in the country, familial ties, community support, etc).

Trump’s Executive Order also seeks to ramp up the enforcement ability of ICE by tripling the number of interior enforcement agents, increasing workplace raids, empowering local police to act as immigration agents, and using military-style policing to locate undocumented immigrants. These tactics are not just meant to target individuals and their families, they also strike fear deep into the heart of our immigrant communities - and make no mistake about it, that is also a goal. These increased enforcement actions, coupled with the inflammatory statements by the President, will further terrorize, harass, and abuse immigrant communities and long-time residents, whether documented or not.

The Executive Order calls for the following changes to the DHS budget:

Tripling the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers

  • Since the creation of DHS in 2003, spending on ICE has grown 85 percent, from $3.3 billion to $6.1 billion today, currently there are 7,995 ICE agents. Adding an additional 10,000 ICE officers would cost approximately $2.1 billion a year, which doesn’t include all of the non-ICE accompanying costs to deport additional immigrants such as court costs.

Federal Budget Timeline

January 3

115th Congress convened


FY 2017 Budget reconciliation passed


Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director confirmation vote


Potential DHS supplemental for FY 2017 budget (to fund EOs)

April 28

FY 2017 Continuing Resolution expires


Trump (OMB) sends Administration budget request to Congress

April - June*

Budget committees in both houses work to pass budget resolutions

June - September*

Appropriation committees (12 in each house) work to pass appropriation bills to fund their sectors of government.

September 30

FY 2017 budget expires

*date estimates


16 Democratic Assembly Members Voted Against the Liberty Act

On Monday, the New York State Assembly voted on sweeping legislation to protect New York’s immigrant population. Sponsored by Assemblyman Francisco Moya, the New York State Liberty Act will ensure the fair and ethical treatment of New Yorkers by providing clarity and certainty for state and local officials in interaction with all citizens, including our immigrant populations. Although the bill passed, 16 Democrats voted against the Liberty Act. This is unacceptable, and reflects a lack of support for New York’s immigrant communities.

Please Tweet at these Assembly members and ask them why they didn't support legislation to protect immigrant New Yorkers!

Sample Tweet: .@INSERT-TWITTER-HANDLE, I am disappointed you did not support the #LibertyAct, please explain why you chose not to protect #immigrant New York #OurNY

Assembly member  District Twitter Handle
Steven Englebright Suffolk @SteveEngles
Brian Barnwell Queens @Barnwell30
Michael Cusick Richmond @Michael_Cusick
Amy Paulin Westchester @AmyPaulin
David Buchwald Westchester @DavidBuchwald
Sandy Galef Westchester, Putnam @SandyGalef
James Skoufis Orange @JamesSkoufis
Didi Barrett Columbia, Dutchess @dinerdialogues
Phil Steck Albany, Schenectady @PhilSteck
Carrie Woerner Saratoga, Washington @AMCarrieWoerner
Billy Jones Clinton, Franklin, St. Lawrence @jonesnyassembly
Anthony Brindisi Herkimer, Oneida @ABrindisi119
Al Stirpe Onondaga @StirpeAl
Pamela Hunter Onondaga @PamelaHunter128 
Mickey Kearns Erie @Mickey_Kearns
Monica P. Wallace Erie @MonicaPWallace

Immigrant Action Endorses Marvin Holland

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Press Contact: Anu Joshi
Mobile: 828.469.7423

Immigrant Action Endorses Labor Activist Marvin Holland in City Council Special Election

New York, NY — Today, Immigrant Action (New York State Immigrant Action Fund), one of the largest 501(c)(4) immigrant rights groups in the country, endorsed labor activist Marvin Holland for the District 9 City Council Seat. The special election to fill the seat vacated by Inez Dickens after her successful bid to join the State Assembly will be held on Tuesday, February 14.


Steve Choi, Executive Director of Immigrant Action, commented, “Immigrant Action is dedicated to supporting candidates and elected officials who will fight for immigrant communities and support humane immigrant policies. Union activist Marvin Holland represents the values that Immigrant Action fights for, and that New York immigrant communities care about. We are proud to support his candidacy.”

“Marvin Holland will bring a fresh perspective to the New York City Council and is prepared to represent the diverse voice of the immigrant communities in the Harlem-based City Council seat, including and importantly the vibrant West African population in the area. His commitment to understanding the diverse needs of the district will serve him well in the City Council. That is why Immigrant Action is proud to endorse his for the District 9 seat.”

“Immigrant Action would also like to extend our appreciation to State Senator Bill Perkins for his long history of championing immigrant rights in the State Legislature and beyond. From fighting for driver's licenses for all to supporting the New York State DREAM Act, we’ve always been able to count on Senator Perkins to support immigrant communities in New York. We look forward to continuing our strong working relationship with Senator Perkins.”



Trump Unveils Muslim Ban and Suspension of Refugee Program

Trump is expected to sign an Executive Order on Friday, January 26, that will do two things:

1. Halt all immigration (refugee, non-immigrant and immigrant) from at least seven Muslim-majority countries for at least 30 days. (These are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.) 

2. Suspend the United States Refugee Program for at least six months while significant changes are made to the program.

Here are the relevant sections of the Executive Order that was leaked (this is not official until the President signs off):

Sec. 3. Suspension of Issuance of Visas and Other Immigration Benefits to National of Countries of Particular Concern.
(c)...I hereby find that the immigrant and non-immigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries designated pursuant to [a particular Division of an appropriations act outlining the seven Muslim-majority countries listed above], would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrant and non-immigrants of such persons for 30 days from the date of this order.

Sec. 5. Realignment of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for Fiscal Year 2017

(a) The Secretary of State shall suspend the U.s. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days...Refugee applicants who are already in the USRAP process may be admitted upon the initiation and completion of these revised procedures.

(c) The Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, as appropriate, shall cease refugee processing of and the admittance of nationals of Syria as refugees until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure its alignment with the national interest.


Trump Begins Implementing Extremist Anti-Immigrant Agenda

Today, in an act of absolute cowardice, Donald Trump used the cover of national security to declare a vicious and unwarranted attack on immigrant and refugee communities in this country. But this is not just an attack of immigrant and refugee communities, this is an attack on ALL Americans and the values that define us.

The Executive Orders issued this week are no exception. Trump has doubled down on his effort to divide this country by casting immigrants, refugees and Muslims as the source of the country’s economic pains and security risks. Throughout his campaign, and continuing to this day, Trump has offered extreme solutions for problems that do not actually exist. Whether to mollify the most extremist anti-immigrant members of his party or distract the American public from his frequent falsehoods or offensive statements, Trump has made it his business to propagate dangerous falsehoods about American immigrant communities.

Some Areas covered in the Executive Orders Issues on January 25 on Border Security and Interior Enforcement

  • Building a Wall (that Mexico will definitely, certainly (not) pay for)
  • Ending the so-called "catch and release" program (that ended under President Bush in 2006...)
  • Stopping (alleged) asylum fraud (even though current asylum laws are harsh and stacked against those fleeing violence and persecution and fraud is not a rampant issue)
  • Stopping Central American border crisis (by abandoning American core values of being a shining light on the hill)
  • Adding 5,000 Customs and Border Patrol officers (never mind that border crossings are at an all time low and that the CBP budget and number of officers has tripled over the last 15 years)
  • Tripling the number of ICE agents (terrorizing immigrant communities and reinstating failed programs like workplace raids)
  • Terminating support for "sanctuary cities" (undermining community policing efforts by threatening to take their federal funds from other non-related programs)



Join our Fight on #GivingTuesday

We're gearing up for the fight of our lives over the next four years. In 2016, Immigrant Action engaged community members in political activism from Long Island to Philadelphia. We supported candidates committed to immigrant communities, like Marisol Alcantara, the first Latina in the State Senate in 12 years. And we forcefully called out officials (on all levels) who betrayed our values, including a Times-Union editorial condemning the use of anti-immigrant campaign materials by the state Republican Party.

Please consider making a donation to Immigrant Action today to support our work in 2017.

Moving forward, this effort will be more important than ever. The work to run and elect candidates who share our values (and then hold them accountable) begins now. Elections in 2017, 2018 and ultimately 2020 will be here before we know it, and only with your support will we be able to continue this fight.

Make a donation to Immigrant Action in honor of #GivingTuesday and join this fight with us.


Anu Joshi
Deputy Director