Immigrant Action Announces First Slate of Endorsements For NYS Midterm Elections

Leading Immigrant Rights Group Backs 8 Visionary Women Candidates for NYS Senate and Assembly

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 4 candidates for State Senate and 4 candidates for State Assembly. Many of the endorsed candidates are running for the first time in response to the Trump Administration's attack on their communities. All of them have a proven track record of fighting tirelessly for New York's immigrants.

For NYS Senate, the organization endorsed Marisol Alcantara, Carima El-Behairy, Jen Lunsford, and Julia Salazar. For NYS Assembly, the organization endorsed Michaelle Solages, Carmen de la Rosa, Kimberly Jean-Pierre, and Karines Reyes.

Steven Choi, Executive Director of Immigrant Action, issued the following statement:

“These eight exceptional women candidates share our vision for a New York that works for the many, rather than the few. They are committed to improving the lives of immigrant communities and all New Yorkers, and will fight Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda from Albany to DC.”


Trump's Blame Train Comes to New York for Tenney

UTICA, NY — Today, President Trump visits Fort Drum and makes a fundraising stop to support Representative Claudia Tenney (R-NY) in Utica, NY. Ms. Tenney, a first-term Republican congresswoman from Central New York, has remained an unabashed supporter of President Trump throughout his presidency and a vocal advocate on the construction of the “Wall” on the southern border and supports Trump’s Muslim Ban.

Steven Choi, Executive Director of Immigrant Action, issued the following statement:

“Trump is dropping into our New York to promote even more divisiveness and extremism with his partner-in-crime Claudia Tenney. But common-sense New Yorkers know that immigrants from across the globe have made New York great for centuries. In November, they should cast a ballot for a brighter shared future and economic stability, instead of Claudia Tenney's scapegoating and blame games." 


Currently, there are 17,976 eligible immigrant voters but only a small percentage are registered to vote in Representative Tenney’s district. Although registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats by nearly 30,000 in New York’s 22nd Congressional District, Tenney’s seat is one of the most vulnerable Republican seats in the House.


Immigrant Action Announces Endorsements For Critical 2018 Congressional Elections

Organization Gathers With Local Leaders To Announce Support For Reps. Velázquez, Crowley, Meng and Jeffries

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 Reps. Nydia Velázquez, Joseph Crowley, Grace Meng, and Hakeem Jeffries for Congress.

Joined by several local leaders, Immigrant Action Executive Director Steven Choi issued the following statement:

“These four candidates have been powerful advocates for immigrant rights, and are always at the frontline of the resistance. At a time when our immigrant communities are under constant attack, it is more important than ever to elect local leaders who will take a firm stance by our side. Immigrant Action is proud to support candidates like Nydia Velázquez, who was the first to arrive at JFK in response to the enactment of Trump’s Muslim and refugee ban; Joseph Crowley, who has been serving and advocating for one of the nation’s most diverse communities for years; Grace Meng, who has been a key player in our fight against the troubling changes to the Census; and Hakeem Jeffries, who has forcefully pushed back against the Trump administration’s deportation efforts. These four candidates uphold the values that we stand for and will be critical allies in pushing an immigrant rights agenda forward.”  

“Our communities need national leaders like Nydia Velázquez, who has proven time and time again to be a champion of immigrant rights. In addition to her advocacy for DREAMers and TPS recipients, she has also demonstrated her dedication to highlighting the huge economic contributions of immigrants through her work in the Small Business Committee,” said Lucia Gomez, Immigrant Action Board Member

“We are proud to support Joseph Crowley for re-election because he has spent his time in Congress supporting us and our issues. He has worked tirelessly to pass a clean DREAM Act, support TPS recipients, and, ultimately, protect families from being torn apart,” said Manuel Castro, Queens Lead Immigrant Action Organizer

“Through her work, Grace Meng has proven to be a great defender of all immigrants, regardless of their status. She was the first to raise the alarm on the Trump administration’s toxic changes to the 2020 Census, and has continued to support us as we fight back on the inclusion of a citizenship question,” said Bakary Tandia, Immigrant Action Member

“Hakeem Jeffries was a critical advocate against the Trump tax bill and has fought back against the administration’s deportation efforts. From standing up for immigrants to standing up to the FCC when it made its unconscionable decision to end net neutrality, Congressman Hakeem has proven to be on the right side of the issues that matter most,” said Deepa Patel, Immigrant Action Board Member

"Especially now, we must be united in standing up for immigrant communities and opposing Donald Trump's hateful, anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies," said Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY). "I've been fighting this battle on multiple fronts. I've authored legislation to create a path to citizenship for Temporary Protected Status recipients who are here seeking refuge from natural disasters or political violence. I continue pushing the House Leadership to finally pass a clean DREAM Act, making DACA permanent, and protecting our young Dreamers. And, I will continue opposing any funds for Donald Trump's useless, hateful border wall and fighting to stop his Muslim Ban. On every single one of these fights NYSIAF, has a been a stalwart ally, in the trenches with us, helping advance a progressive agenda. I'm proud to have their endorsement and look forward to continuing working with them on behalf of New York's immigrant communities."

“Immigrants who come to the United States seeking their version of the American Dream are consistently some of the bravest, brightest, and best people I meet. As the son and grandson of immigrants, I’m truly honored to receive New York State Immigrant Action Fund’s endorsement and support. Together, I know we’ll be able to reverse the hateful and discriminatory policies that have been targeted toward immigrant communities this past year. We will continue to fight until DREAMers are protected and comprehensive immigration reform is a reality. We will expand health care access and educational opportunities for immigrants and we will ensure that everyone, regardless of their background, has the opportunity to succeed here,” commented Congressman Joseph Crowley.

“The New York State Immigration Action Fund is a voice for diverse immigrant communities across New York, and I’m proud to receive their endorsement. I look forward to continuing to work with Immigrant Action and its sister nonprofit the New York Immigration Coalition to advocate on behalf of all immigrants and New Yorkers,” shared Congresswoman Grace Meng.

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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.”