Not Going Away
We are not going away.
There is a conception that qualifies immigration as a destructive phenomenon for the United States.
First of all, we cannot construct a fair characterization of a specific population based on a technicality. One cannot grant or take away value to people just because of their immigration status. All immigrants, with or without documents, share similar experiences and dreams. From now on, I’m going to use the word “immigrant” to refer to both documented and undocumented immigrants.
We have heard a handful of Americans say that immigrants are criminals. But one cannot generalize to a whole population based on the behavior of a few.
We have heard some say: Immigrants take away jobs from Americans. We don’t take Americans’ jobs. We create jobs.
We have heard some say: Immigrants abuse the welfare system. But that’s not the case. According to the statistics, there are 100 million immigrants and most pay lots of money in taxes.
Immigrants are a great investment. In fact, we are best for the economy of this nation.
We are professionals, we invest in higher education. We are lawyers, physicians, teachers, engineers, social workers, bankers, etc. We are even actors, musicians, artists, scientists.
Stop treating us as if we didn’t have anything good to bring to the table, stop ripping our families apart, don’t take away our dignity, our dreams. Give us a fair, humane and realistic immigration reform.
Latin American Integration Center,
It was sad indeed to hear that we have lost another one of our Bravest, who died while fighting a fire in Brooklyn. Firefighter Daniel Pujdak of Fresh Meadows, at 23 years old was so young and had so much more to give and to live for. And for that may God take him to his eternal rest. Our heartfelt prayers go out to his family at this time.
Our city owes much to these firefighters who respond when they are called upon to do so and give their all to save lives and property.
We must never forget what they do for all of us in this great city of ours. May God bless and protect our Bravest, who do what they do for you and me.
Frederick Bedell Jr.,
Cool Your Heels
Mayor Bloomberg seems to have a cavalier attitude toward the citizens of this city who are enduring what may be the beginning of summer storms and accompanying electrical outages. What may be a “minor inconvenience” to him, isn’t for most of us. He doesn’t have to try to get home when trains are not working due to flooding in subways, or worry about outages and spoiled food due to these electrical outages. Nor does he have to worry about getting home on time to pick up a child from day care.
So, Mr. Mayor, cool your heels and cut the attitude. Everyone’s just trying to get through life.
Michael Moore’s documentary“Sicko,” which was hotly contested weeks before it even came to theaters, is not only timely, but necessary — especially here in New York City. This isn’t about New York being a Democratic state, or Michael Moore having Democratic views, but about all of us who pretend what the film talks about doesn’t affect us or doesn’t apply.
The film should be required viewing for all Queens and New York City residents, regardless of what they have heard about Moore or the film. If they can judge it on its merits, and on its humane appeal, they may begin to understand why letting someone else make their health care decisions was a poor idea in the first place.
If you’re deathly ill, you shouldn't have to press “1” for a medical opinion, press “2” to wait for an ambulance operator, or press “3” if you can take some aspirin while you wait; you should be able to have immediate, finance-blind care.
The police can’t arrest many people to whom they issued warrants after they spent hours (and many taxpayer dollars) investigating their crimes simply because they can’t find current addresses for the criminals, so the warrants just sit on the books, and the criminals stay free.
There is a way that will not cost New York City one cent, that can help the police locate many people who have outstanding warrants: Simply give New York City businesses, and others, access to the city’s databases of criminal background information so we can find out about prospective employees and other people we are interested in.
If this information was free and easily available, New Yorkers would use it.
When the name of a person for whom information was requested matches the name of a person with an outstanding warrant(s), it would show the person was still in New York City and the police would get current information they need to close old cases and remove criminals from our streets.
Unfortunately, only very few people know a database exists of criminals with outstanding warrants. And many who know about it don’t use it because the information is only available from the New York State Criminal History Record Search (CHRS) agency and they charge $59 for the information — information that was created at New York City taxpayers’ expense by New York City employees — and given to CHRSfor free. Something is very wrong about this.
Why is it so complicated to pass fair immigration laws that answer Americans’ needs and give normal rights to immigrants? The need for immigrants in the United States is unquestionable; it is obvious that immigrants already are and always have been an integral part of our system.
The conflict is not as much about immigration as about the rights and recognition our society is willing to give to those immigrants living and working among us. The answer from our leaders is: none.
What this boils down to, behind all the fancy language, is pure discrimination, making sure that one percentage of the population has fewer rights than another part. Don’t we remember the fight for women’s right to vote, or the African-American civil rights movement against racial discrimination? Nothing justifies the current deadlock on immigration reform.
We call upon everyone to follow the universal moral of treating others as you would want others to treat you, to build bridges not walls, to say no to raids and deportations, to oppose any dehumanizing guest worker program and to understand that the fight for real immigration legislation is a direct fight against discrimination.
David Andersson, director,
The Humanist Center of Queens,
The Seinfeld Scholarship, which was featured inthe June 21issue,is actually run by both the Seinfeld Family Foundation and the nonprofit organization PENCIL.
PENCIL works to improve student achievement throughout the five boroughs by partnering publicschools and members of the private sector.
A June 28 story titled “Bayside’s Avella Named MidVille Civic’s Main Man” incorrectly stated that City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe was a past recipient of the Juniper Park Civic Association’s “Man of the Year” award. The civic association gave him a community service award in 2003.
OP-ED: Want New Buses? Tell Albany
by Dan Hendrick
For years, Queens residents have been complaining about bus service — and with good reason. The takeover of the old private lines last year made things a little better, because the MTA finally put some new buses on routes that hadn’t seen new equipment for ages. But as anyone who takes the Q11 down Woodhaven Boulevard or the Q43 in Jackson Heights will tell you, service is slow, the timetable is a joke and riders are packed in like sardines during rush hour.
Queens needs new buses desperately, and we finally have a way to get them. Last week, the city submitted its congestion pricing plan to the federal Department of Transportation that calls for 367 new buses. The best part is that we would get the new buses without a rate hike or new taxes. They would be paid for by the federal government, under a one-time initiative to find ways to get the nation’s traffic congestion under control. New Yorkers and riders wouldn’t have to shell out an extra dime.
That’s why it makes no sense that some Assembly members and state senators from Queens oppose congestion pricing. A number of them represent districts, especially in Northeast and Southeast Queens, where the buses are the only form of public transit. Their constituents stand to benefit the most from more buses, and a better transit system overall. Bus service has gotten so bad in Southeast Queens that the dollar vans are the most reliable way to get around — a shameless situation that leaves residents grappling with all kinds of environmental, safety and quality-of-life problems.
The idea that congestion pricing is a tax on the working and middle classes is bogus. First of all, many working-class residents can’t afford a car and rely on mass transit to get around — making them direct beneficiaries of all the improvements congestion pricing would buy. Second, most middle-class residents don’t drive to work in the congestion pricing zone either; only 5 percent of working New Yorkers do, mostly because parking is a hassle and too expensive. Of the few who do drive, the overwhelming majority do so despite having mass transit options close to home, and many of them just expense their costs to their employer. And as for small business owners, time is money; they are the least able to afford sitting in insane traffic and they will see productivity benefits from reduced congestion in the city.
In mid-July, our Assembly members and senators will head back to Albany to take up the congestion pricing issue again. Whether your biggest concern is Queens’ alarming asthma rates or morning gridlock on Queens Boulevard, let’s remind them not to miss the bus on this one-time opportunity. Queens stands to gain a lot — and lose a great deal if they do nothing.
(Editor’s note: Dan Hendrick is a Sunnyside resident and communications director of the New York League of Conservation Voters.)