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Queens Chronicle

Meng talks Census, immigration at event

Lawmaker also addresses healthcare concerns at Queens College town hall

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Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:07 pm, Thu Nov 14, 2019.

As Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) splits her time between her constituents in Queens and her Washington, DC, office, she took the time last Saturday to hold a town hall meeting at Queens College.

“I wanted to provide this opportunity for all of us to have a dialogue,” the lawmaker said. “I wanted to make sure that folks know that our office is accessible.”

Meng was introduced by Sandra Mandell of One Queens Indivisible, a grassroots movement that promotes progressive policies and was created in response to the 2016 election of President Trump. The moderator was Sylvia Hernandez, administrative events coordinator of the Office of Campus Events and Commencement at Queens College.

Meng stressed the importance of immigration issues in the United States.

“We are the country where the Statue of Liberty stands in our harbor and we need to make sure to fight for more humane policies and to defend so many people in our country,” she said.

Small business is another important issue dear to the congresswoman. After she noticed that a small business development center was lacking in her district, she worked with Queens College and CUNY to help develop one on Kissena Boulevard.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, especially here in Queens,” said Meng.

She also noted that her office provides a monthly service, by appointment only, for veterans to resolve any veteran-related issues by making available someone from the Veterans’ Administration Offices, eliminating a trip to an inconvenient VA location.

The 2020 Census is another important issue for Meng. She publicly opposed the potential inclusion of a citizenship question in the population count. And she stressed the need to collectively encourage people to respond to the Census as a way to ensure that New York receives its fair share of monies to fund necessary services.

“Whether you agree with me or not, it is still vitally important for us to spread the word about the Census,” she said. “Last time in New York State, we had an undercount in this state. We lost two congressional seats and likely billions of dollars in federal funding to our local programs which include schools, libraries, infrastructure, hospitals, etc.”

Attendees at the town hall meeting asked Meng myriad questions about a wide range of issues. The gamut ran from her accepting donations from corporations and political action committees to her positions on the U.S. borders, gun control, healthcare affordability and the slashing of programs aimed at eliminating poverty and hunger.

One attendee asked if Meng would reject contributions from corporate donors or PACs, while another asked why she took money from Goldman Sachs. Meng admitted to accepting money from PACs but said she made a conscious effort to donate monies to candidates running in underrepresented communities and candidates of color. “We do not take money from fossil fuel companies or the NRA.”

Another attendee named Manuel, a native of Peru, asked Meng’s position on open borders. The congresswoman said there is a need to protect the U.S. borders from drug and human traffickers but that she is against the Trump administration preventing immigrants who have a legal right to come to the U.S. to seek asylum, and not allowing them to be processed.

Meng warned not to be reactive to images on the news. “There is a much larger problem, a more comprehensive problem that needs a more comprehensive solution,” she said. The congresswoman informed the attendees that she has proposed a bill known as the “New Deal for New Americans” to help legal immigrants become productive U.S. citizens, to assimilate, to learn English and to have work-development training, among other needs.

A man in his 60s asked Meng what Congress can do to limit assault weapons. She explained that Congress has passed legislation to close the “Charleston Loophole” that allowed white supremacist terrorist Dylann Roof to obtain a gun after the three-day waiting period had passed without a background check being completed. He shot to death nine people at a church in Charleston.

“We have to tell the Senate, led by Senator Mitch McConnell, to pass the legislation,” said Meng. “I’m proud that our House, our Congress finally passed those life-saving measures and we need to make sure that our Senate is doing the same thing. Because thoughts and prayers are not enough for our children.”

South Asian Council for Social Services Executive Director Sudha Acharya asked what the congresswoman has done to ensure that the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program is not cut since her group has seen such poverty that it felt forced to start a food pantry sensitive to the cultural and religious practices of Southeast Asians.

Meng informed the attendees that a lawsuit has forced a pause in the Trump administration’s plans to use the public charge law, banning immigrants who receive certain public benefits from getting green cards, to prevent immigration.

The congresswoman noted that her New Deal for New Americans bill would keep the “‘public charge’ rule from being used as a deportable offense.”

Maurice Pinzon, a photojournalist, asked Meng whether Obamacare should stay. She said that she is a cosponsor of the House’s Medicare for All legislation.

“We voted over 60 times because Republicans tried to dismantle Obamacare but not provide any real alternative,” said Meng.

The lawmaker concluded the town hall meeting by repeating her goal of being accessible to her constituents. She shared with the attendees that she was politically guided by her grandmother, who didn’t finish high school and was not a politician herself.

“My grandma always reminded me of the most important skill of being a politician is to be a good listener and to be responsive,” said Meng.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Helton posted at 11:19 am on Thu, Nov 14, 2019.

    Helton Posts: 2

    jillroe is on the mark with every comment!

  • jillroe posted at 10:04 pm on Thu, Nov 7, 2019.

    jillroe Posts: 0

    -Massive tax increases.

    -End all deportations of illegal aliens (if you get here, you stay.)

    -Drivers licenses for illegal aliens.

    -Cut Military funding.

    -Voting rights for non citizens.

    -Welfare & Food Stamps for illegal aliens. (Warren)

    -Increase refugee's from the third world.

    -Non citizens allowed to hold public office.


    -Open Borders.

    -Sanctuary Cities.

    -Decriminalize illegal entry into our country.

    -De-fund & terminate Border Patrol & ICE.

    -Disarming Americans.

    -Green new deal.

    -End of Electoral College

    -Free medicare care for all including non citizens (taxpayer funded)

    -!00% free college for all, including non citizens. (tax payer funded)


    -Susie & Bobby using the same restrooms.

    -Late term abortions up to 9 months.


    -Pay check for every person in the US even if they choose not to work.

    From the Democrat's themselves. View their speeches / debates on you tube.The choice is yours.-