Category Archives: Justice Agenda

Democratic Race for 2020: Warren Offers Plan for Justice for Border Communities

Senator Elizabeth Warren, at a rally in Brooklyn with Julian Castro, released her plan for Justice for Border Communities © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats running for president has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan for Justice for Border Communities – a stark contrast to what Trump has done to punish asylum seekers, separating children from their parents, and most recently, using the coronavirus pandemic to raise the prospect of shutting the border to Mexico entirely.

“Our border region is made up of multinational, multicultural, economically vibrant communities that reflect the best of what our country can be. From affordable housing to investing in small businesses to stopping Trump’s monument to hate, we can make big, structural change to promote accountability, opportunity, and prosperity at the border,” Senator Warren stated.

This is from the Warren campaign:

Charlestown, MA – Senator Elizabeth Warren, running for president, released her plan to ensure accountability in our border communities by rolling back the Trump administration’s incessant militarization, immediately stopping the construction of Trump’s wall on the border between Mexico and the United States, creating a fair and welcoming immigration system, and respecting the rights of people and our fragile border ecosystem.
 
She will also work to build a 21st century border economy by boosting small businesses, growing access to financial services, closing the digital divide, uplifting labor and environmental protections through trade, and developing the green workforce of the future.
 
Some new proposals in her plan include:

In her first 100 days, she will convene a borderlands summit, bringing together federal, state, and local representatives, Tribal Nations, members of the business community, community organizations and stakeholders to undo the harm of the Trump administration and create more prosperity in the region.

She will create a new position in the White House that serves as an advisor to the president on border communities. This person will direct an Interagency Task Force on Border Community Prosperity and coordinate the entire federal government’s investment in our border communities.

She will end Trump’s deployment of military forces to the border.

She will immediately stop the construction of Trump’s wall on the border between Mexico and the United States. She will also work to repeal the sections of law that allow the federal government to waive federal procurement rules or environmental impact reviews.

Despite the immediate public health threat, the Trump administration is demanding that we cut spending elsewhere to pay for emergency funding we need to prepare for and respond to coronavirus — so she is introducing a bill in the Senate to redirect funding diverted to the wall toward coronavirus instead.

She will end Constitution-Free Zones: She will  hold immigration enforcement to the same due process and standards as other law enforcement agencies — no more warrantless property searches, no more arbitrary stops, no more violations of basic Constitutional rights. 

She will reverse the Trump administration’s policy giving Border Patrol agents the power to make “credible fear” determinations for asylum-seekers rather than asylum officers.

She will invest resources in more culturally competent asylum officers and immigration judges and better coordinate a full federal government response to the humanitarian crisis at the border, just like we would with FEMA under a natural disaster.

She will pardon those convicted of providing food and water to migrants — because no one should go to jail simply for providing humanitarian aid to another person in need.

She supports requiring Custom and Border Patrol (CBP) agents to wear body cameras, a best practice in local law enforcement that reduces use-of-force incidents and increases transparency.

She will crack down on dangerous anti-immigrant vigilante militias at the border, which often include members of hate groups or individuals with a history of violence, including against U.S. citizens.

She will create a Border Health Initiative within the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to focus on strengthening these health institutions in ways that serve the unique needs of this region and its people.

She will build a 21st century border economy by investing in our ports of entry.
 

The campaign recently did a Texas Latino Engagement tour — and listened and learned from hundreds of Latino, Latina, and Latinx people in San Antonio, Laredo, McAllen, Corpus Christi, and Houston.
 
Elizabeth will be in San Antonio with former Secretary of HUD Julián Castro today.
 
Read her plan here and below
 
Justice for Border Communities
 
Communities along the U.S.-Mexico border represent a confluence of cultures, a place where people of different walks of life all pursue the American Dream. The true heart and soul of the border is found in the teenagers using their quinceñeras to register their neighbors to vote, in the Good Samaritans leaving water for desperate migrants in the desert, in the citizens of El Paso-Juarez healing in the wake of a white nationalist terrorist attack against Latinos, in community members and leaders protesting wall construction in Tucson, and in Native Americans fighting to protect their homeland and sacred sites.
 
Today the construction of Trump’s border wall is harming local communities along our borders. The Trump administration has begun blasting at Organ Pipe Cactus Monument without the permission of and meaningful consultation with the Tohono O’odham Nation. Long-time residents are seeing their property carved up. Wall construction puts border communities at risk of severe flooding. The Trump administration has ignored critical federal environmental protections, damaging wildlife refuges. And there have been far too many stories like that of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 2 year old daughter Valeria, who drowned in the Rio Grande, or of Gurupreet Kaur, who died in the Arizona desert just one month shy of turning 7-years-old.
 
But the challenges at the border did not start with Donald Trump’s ignorance and bigotry. For decades, decisions made in Washington have divided and disrupted communities, cities, Tribal Nations, and families — many of whom have lived along what is now the border for longer than the United States has even existed.
 
The 15 million residents living in our Southern borderlands — from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California — deserve a champion and a partner in the White House. Building an America that reflects our values means elevating the voices of those who have traditionally been overlooked and underserved. We’ve got to make sure everyone has a seat at the table, and that includes border communities and immigrant advocacy groups. In my first 100 days, I will convene a borderlands summit, bringing together federal, state, and local representatives, Tribal Nations, members of the business community, community organizations, and stakeholders to undo the harm of the Trump administration and create more prosperity in the region. I will also create a new position in the White House that serves as an advisor to the president on border communities. This person will direct an Interagency Task Force on Border Community Prosperity and coordinate the entire federal government’s investment in our border communities.
 
A Warren administration will ensure accountability in our border communities by rolling back the Trump administration’s incessant militarization of the border, creating a fair and welcoming immigration system, and respecting the rights of people and our fragile border ecosystem. I’ll fight for healthy and safe border communities with affordable housing, high-quality education, health care, and economic opportunities. And together, we’ll build a 21st century border economy by boosting small businesses, growing access to financial services, closing the digital divide, uplifting labor and environmental protections through trade, and developing the green workforce of the future.
 
Accountability in Border Communities
 
We need a federal government that’s accountable to our border communities. That means an immigration system that keeps families together, preserves our security, grows our economy, honors our Constitution, and reflects our values. That also means an approach to national security that respects the rights of people and our fragile border ecosystems. As president, my administration will:
 
Welcome those in need and protect rights and due process. My immigration plan commits to decriminalizing migration, significantly reducing detention and ending private detention facilities, providing rights and due process for all immigrants, reaffirming asylum protections for those fleeing violence, and ending policies like metering and the “Remain in Mexico” policy. As president, I’ll also reverse the Trump administration’s policy giving Border Patrol agents the power to make “credible fear” determinations for asylum-seekers rather than asylum officers. A Warren administration will invest resources in more culturally competent asylum officers and immigration judges and better coordinate a full federal government response to the humanitarian crisis at the border, just like we would with FEMA during a natural disaster. And I’ll pardon those convicted of providing food and water to migrants — because no one should go to jail simply for providing humanitarian aid to another person in need.
 
Remake CBP and ICE in a way that reflects our values. We spend billions of dollars each year on a massive and cruel immigration detention and enforcement system that breaks up families and keeps thousands locked up — with little evidence that it makes our nation safer. A Warren administration will reshape CBP and ICE from top to bottom, reducing funding for detention and instead focusing their efforts on ports of entry and homeland security efforts like screening cargo, identifying counterfeit goods, and preventing smuggling and trafficking. And to change the culture, I’ll insist on transparency and strengthen the authorities of independent internal watchdogs to prevent future abuses. I’ll designate a Justice Department task force to investigate accusations of serious violations, and give it independent authority to pursue any substantiated criminal allegations.
 
The Supreme Court ruling that a family can’t seek damages after their son was killed by a border patrol agent because he was on the Mexican side of the border when the agent shot him shows us that our system of accountability is broken. In spite of the Supreme Court’s decision, a few steps to one side of the border or another should not serve to forfeit basic rights. As president, I’ll work to reverse the decision legislatively in order to ensure accountability for victims of border patrol violence — regardless of the side of the border. Furthermore, I support requiring Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents to wear body cameras, a best practice in local law enforcement that reduces use-of-force incidents and increases transparency. And as new technology is deployed, a Warren administration will monitor violations of privacy and limit the use of facial-recognition software. Let there be no ambiguity on this: if you are violating the basic rights of immigrants, now or in the future, a Warren administration will hold you accountable.
 
Stop Trump’s Militarization of the Border. Despite Trump’s rhetoric, the people seeking asylum at the southern border are not a threat to our national security. And Trump’s wall is a monument to hate — and only the latest attempt to treat the southern border as a war zone rather than as a vibrant community. Many of the apprehensions at the border are families and children who commonly turn themselves in to Border Patrol to apply for asylumThis is a humanitarian crisis in need of medical doctors, immigration lawyers, and social workers — not military troops. As president, I will end Trump’s deployment of military forces to the border. I’ve listened to communities at the border when they say we do not need Trump’s failed wall, and I will immediately stop the construction of Trump’s wall on the border between Mexico and the United States. I will also work to repeal the sections of law that allow the federal government to waive federal procurement rules or environmental impact reviews. Despite the immediate public health threat, the Trump administration is demanding that we cut spending elsewhere to pay for emergency funding we need to prepare for and respond to coronavirus — so I am introducing a bill in the Senate to redirect funding diverted to the wall toward coronavirus instead. We need to get our priorities straight and focus on keeping the American people safe, rather than funding some useless vanity project. Let’s be clear: our border communities are not a war zone.
 
End Constitution-Free Zones. CBP has the authority to operate within 100 miles of any “external boundary” — an area deep into the interior of the country that covers about 200 million people, including 9 of the 10 largest U.S. cities. The Border Patrol operates numerous immigration checkpoints and regularly stops people to check their immigration status, raising concerns about racial profiling and violations of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections. During natural disasters and daily life, immigrant families are afraid to travel freely in their own communities. Citizens of Tribal Nations such as the Tohono O’odham Nation who have tribal ID cards face unnecessary hurdles with border patrol checkpoints. Agents also have the authority to enter private property (except dwellings) 25 miles from the border, which includes almost all of El Paso. There is no reason Border Patrol agents should have special access to private property without receiving a warrant from a judge just like the rest of law enforcement. As president, I will hold immigration enforcement to the same due process and standards as other law enforcement agencies — no more warrantless property searches, no more arbitrary stops, no more violations of basic Constitutional rights. It’s time to rein in CBP, and ensure everyone’s rights are respected.
 
Root Out White NationalismWe need to call out white nationalism for what it is—domestic terrorism. It is a threat to American safety and security. In a Warren administration, we will use every tool we have to defeat it, and that includes from within our military, our law enforcement, and our immigration enforcement agencies. To start, I will instruct these federal agencies to tighten their background check processes and to better track incidents of bias crimes and reports of affiliation with white nationalist or neo-Nazi groups in their ranks. Extremist ideology is a threat to our values, and it has no place inside our government. As part of my plan to reshape ICE and CBP, I’ve said that I will strengthen the authorities of independent internal watchdogs to prevent future abuses. This includes tasking the Inspectors General at both agencies to focus explicitly on reports of bias crimes or racism on the job. A Warren administration will have zero tolerance for these types of infractions.
 
From the 1918 Porvenir massacre through today, we must also recognize the long history of racist violence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Tragically, we have seen how this horrific history repeated itself just last August, when a white nationalist, directly echoing the rhetoric of President Trump, drove hundreds of miles to commit an act of terror against the people of El Paso. As I laid out in my plan to combat white nationalism, combatting white nationalist crime will be a top priority for the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security in a Warren administration. My administration will also work with federal and local law enforcement to crack down on dangerous anti-immigrant vigilante militias at the border, which often include members of hate groups or individuals with a history of violence, including against U.S. citizens.

Respect Tribal Sovereignty. My plan for public lands includes aggressive steps to stop private interests from pillaging sacred lands. I will use all legal authorities, including the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, to protect sacred sites like Organ Pipe. And absent extraordinary circumstances, respect for tribal sovereignty means that no project, development or federal decision that will have a significant impact on a tribal community, their lands, resources, members or religious practices, should proceed without the free, prior, and informed consent of the Tribal Nation concerned. I have also called for a new Sacred Lands Religious Freedom Restoration Act to dramatically improve the ability of Tribal Nations to block the imposition of development, extraction, and land use decisions with respect to tribal lands.
 
Fighting for Safe, Healthy, High-Quality Living on the Border
 
A generation of barely budging wages and rising costs for basics like housing, health care, child care, and education have squeezed family budgets. Many families living in communities at our borders are hanging on by their fingernails.
 
A lack of affordable housing and decades of systemic discrimination has driven hundreds of thousands of people, predominantly U.S. citizens of Mexican-descent, in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California to live in neighborhoods, called colonias, without basic necessities like potable water, electricity, and safe housing. Border communities have uninsured rates that are much higher than the national average and have some of the highest rates of chronic diseases like diabetes in the country. In the colonias in Texas, over 50% of adults do not have a high school diploma.
 
A Warren administration will:
 
Invest in safe and affordable housing for all. My Housing Plan for America invests $500 billion over the next ten years to build, preserve, and rehab more than three million units that will be affordable to lower-income families — including $523 million to create 380,000 affordable rental homes in rural communities and $2.5 billion to build or rehabilitate 200,000 homes on tribal lands, where overcrowding, homelessness, and substandard housing have reached crisis levels. My plan will lower rents by 10%, reform land-use rules that restrict affordable housing construction and further racial segregation, and take a critical first step towards closing the racial wealth gap. My plan to protect and empower renters tackles the growing cost of rent, strengthens fair housing law and enforcement, fights for a nationwide right to counsel for low-income tenants in eviction proceedings, and creates a national small dollar grant program to help make sure families aren’t evicted because of financial emergencies.
 

My administration will also take on “land contracts” agreements, predatory loans that are frequently targeted at communities of color and are prevalent in border communitiesIn these contracts, tenant-buyers can be subject to unjust eviction proceedings, homes can be in such bad condition they’re basically uninhabitable, interest rates exorbitantly high, and in the case of some colonias, developers have failed to provide basic infrastructure like a sewer system or paved roads. And because of the “forfeiture clause” embedded in these kinds of agreements, if tenants fall behind on these high-interest payments, lenders can seize the property — and keep the payments that have been made as “liquidated damages.” Texas is one state that has moved toward increasing protections after a certain amount has been paid, but there’s more we can do. I’ll choose a CFPB Director committed to reining in land contracts, work with states to require that these contracts be recorded to collect better data and formalize land titling, and strengthen protections and rights of these residents to ensure their property isn’t lost to exploitative practices and can be passed onto future generations.
 

Protect Clean Water. Clean water is vital to our health and welfare and to our economy. But decades of environmental racism have allowed corporate polluters to pump dangerous amounts of pollution into our border communities and unaccountable developers to leave these communities without the resources and infrastructure to take it on. 30% of people living in colonias don’t have safe drinking water. Meanwhile, border communities have been battling toxic waste dumping in their neighborhoods. And yet, Trump’s 2021 budget proposal eliminates much of the federal money allocated for water and wastewater projects that could have been used to work towards clean drinking water in border regions.
 
A Warren administration will invest in our nation’s water systems. I have committed to fully capitalize the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to refurbish old water infrastructure and support ongoing water treatment operations and maintenance, prioritizing the communities most heavily impacted by inadequate water infrastructure. I will also fully enforce Safe Drinking Water Act standards for all public water systems and aggressively regulate chemicals that make their way into our water supply, including from agricultural runoff. I’ll restore all funding to water and wastewater projects the Trump administration has proposed to eliminate. And, for the thousands of people who rely on private sources for drinking water, a Warren administration will fight for adequate funding so that everyone can have access to safe water. I’ll also make giant agribusinesses pay the full costs of the environmental damage they wreak on the border communities that surround them by closing the loopholes that they use to get away with polluting and by beefing up enforcement of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts against them.
 
Guarantee High-Quality Health Care. Border communities face unique health care challenges. Poor coverage means that people cross from Imperial County, California or Southwest Arizona to Los Algodones, Mexico for affordable dental care. The majority of counties along the Southern border have limited access to maternity care. People in need of reproductive care in the Rio Grande Valley are facing barriers to care due to clinic closures, traveling hundreds of miles, and facing long waiting periods.
 

Health care is a human right and that’s why we need Medicare for All. Under Medicare for All, every single person in this country will be able to see the doctor they need and get their recommended treatments. As president, I will immediately act to lower the cost of prescription drugs, using every available tool to bring pressure on the big drug companies and bring down the high costs of many common prescription drugs, including Insulin. And within 100 days, I’ll work with Congress to expand coverage to every American by expanding Medicare and creating a Medicare for All option that is free for all kids and families at or below 200 percent of poverty.
 

While we work to deliver Medicare for All, a Warren administration will roll back the Trump administration’s efforts to rip health coverage away from people. The Trump administration’s reinterpretation of Section 1557 would undermine critical nondiscrimination protections, weakening requirements to make health information language-accessible. As president, I will direct HHS to reinstate the Obama administration’s 2016 guidance that fully upholds civil rights and nondiscrimination protections. I’ll roll back the Trump administration’s Public Charge rule change, which is harming immigrants with disabilities and forcing immigrant families to choose between staying together and ensuring their children can get critical services. And I’ll reverse the Trump administration’s harmful Medicaid policies, like work requirements and block grants, that take coverage away from low-income individuals and families.
 
Strengthen the Health System. While coverage is critical, it’s only part of ensuring access to high-quality care. We also have a responsibility to make sure that places that have experienced a loss in services or are otherwise medically underserved get support to improve their health systems and meet the needs of their communities.
 
That’s why I’ve committed to protecting health care in rural communities by creating a new designation under Medicare for rural hospitals, ending the harmful effects of consolidation, and dramatically increasing funding for Community Health Centers. I will also establish a $25 billion dollar capital fund to support a menu of options for improving care in health professional shortage areasincluding: constructing a new facility like a Community Health Center, Rural Health Clinic, School-Based Health Center, or birthing center; expanding capacity or services at an existing clinic; establishing pharmacy services or a telemedicine program; supporting a diabetes self-management education program; improving transportation to the nearest hospital; or piloting models like mobile clinics and community paramedicine programs. A Warren administration will also expand our health care workforce by investing more resources in building the pipeline of culturally-competent and language-inclusive medical professionals in rural areas and other areas with shortages, from physicians to promotoras.
 
But we also need to support robust public health efforts to keep these communities healthy and prepared to handle potential outbreaks — and to work in partnership with the international community, including Mexico, in our global health response. That’s why I’ve committed to fully fund the critical agencies that support our public health infrastructure. To double down on this commitment in the border region, I will also create a Border Health Initiative within the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to focus on strengthening these institutions in ways that serve the unique needs of this region and its people.
 
Fight for high-quality education from the earliest years through college. 33 of the 44 counties along the Southern border are non-metropolitan counties. Today, a majority of rural communities lack sufficient access to child care. My plan for Universal Child Care will provide high-quality child care free for millions and affordable for everyone. My administration will also work closely with local providers and tribal governments to make sure there are high-quality child care options available in every community — including home-based child care services. And as part of a comprehensive early childhood education system, I will ensure all children can attend free high-quality universal pre-K.
 
As president, I will make a historic $800 billion investment in our nation’s public schools, supporting students in the classroom and preparing them for college and career readiness. I’ll invest at least an additional $50 billion in school infrastructure across the country – targeted at the schools that need it most. My Environmental Justice plan establishes a lead abatement grant program focused on schools. And I will fully fund the Bureau of Indian Education schools to support major construction and repair backlogs.
 
I’m also committed to protecting English Language Learners by enforcing their rights to meaningful access to rigorous coursework, teachers, special education services, and integration with the rest of the student body, while fostering their home language. And I will protect the rights of immigrant students, ensuring that all immigrant children have access to a quality education, no matter their native language, national origin, or immigration status.
 
Border states are facing an acute teacher shortage. My administration will treat teachers and staff like the professionals they are by strengthening the ability of educators to organize and bargain for just compensation and ensure that educators aren’t drowning in debt. I’ll also build a more diverse teacher and school leadership pipeline by investing in Grow Your Own and teacher residency programs. And I will push to fully fund the Teacher Quality Partnership program to support teacher residency programs in high-need areas, like rural communities, and in areas of expertise like Special Education and Bilingual Education.
 
My student debt cancellation and universal public college plan will cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt for more than 95% of Americans who carry it and make two-year or four-year public college or technical school free. My plan also makes a minimum $50 billion investment in HBCUs, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and other Minority-Serving Institutions.
 
Prevent Gun Violence in Border Communities and in Mexico. After Trump, we’ll have work to do to restore our relationship with our Mexican neighbors. One area where we can begin to make improvements immediately is in stopping the flow of American guns to Mexico. As Mexico struggles with record violence, Americans must face the fact that our weak gun laws have not only fed an epidemic of gun violence at home, but are also a leading driver of instability among our neighbors. This instability in turn is displacing people across Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, feeding the humanitarian crisis that border communities in both the U.S. and Mexico are facing today. I will fight to end gun violence, recognizing that this is part of addressing the root causes of migration and improving our relationship with Mexico. And as president, I will pass a new federal anti-trafficking law making clear “straw purchases” are a federal crime and prosecute gun traffickers by instructing my Attorney General to go after the transnational gun trade with all the resources of the federal government.

Building a 21st Century Border Economy
 
A thriving border economy is crucial to the economic wellbeing of the rest of our country. And when Trump has threatened to shut it down, the ramifications have been felt quickly and acutely. In 2018, a 5 hour border crossing closure at San Ysidro in California — the busiest land border crossing in the world — cost local businesses $5.3 millionWe need a strong border economy that works for everyone. That means investments in local small businesses, growing access to financial services, closing the digital divide, trade that uplifts labor and environmental protections, and developing the green workforce of the future.
 
Boosting Small Businesses. Small businesses are essential to the prosperity of border communities, but these businesses have been harmed by increased border militarization and Trump’s reckless tariff by tweet approach to trade. People along the U.S.-Mexico border also confront barriers to accessing the capital and financial services necessary to start and grow their businesses — barriers that disproportionately affect Latino, Native American, and Black entrepreneurs. My comprehensive agenda to boost America’s small businesses will level the playing field for small business owners on the border by providing access to credit, helping small businesses deal with regulatory requirements, and unleashing the full purchasing power of the federal government to support small businesses.
 
Protecting and Expanding Financial Services. The number of rural counties without a locally owned community bank has doubled since 1994, and border communities are increasingly becoming banking deserts. I’ve proposed allowing the U.S. Postal Service to partner with local community banks and credit unions to provide access to low-cost, basic banking services online and at post offices. A Warren Administration will also strengthen lending to small businesses in underserved areas by expanding support for Community Development Financial Institutions, which provide an important source of funding for women, people of color, and rural communities. As president, my administration will also protect immigrant families sending remittances by enacting stronger rules at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau around remittances to ensure fees are transparent, and I will oppose President Trump’s proposed tax on remittances that targets wire transfers to Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean to pay for his wall.
 
Extend Broadband to Border Communities. The communities along the U.S.-Mexico border have some of the lowest levels of internet connectivity in the nation. This digital divide is a major barrier for people to find jobs, students to complete homework, small business to connect to new markets, and it holds back the entire community. That’s why as president, I will make it clear in federal statute that municipalities have the right to build their own broadband networks and establish a new $85 billion federal grant program to massively expand broadband access across the country. I will also require all telecommunications services to contribute fairly into the Universal Service Fund to shore up essential universal service programs that provide subsidies to low-income individuals, schools, and libraries to increase broadband adoption – because every home in America deserves a fiber broadband connection at a price families can afford.
 
Decreasing Wait Times. Under the Trump Administration, wait times at ports of entry are dramatically increasing, reducing trade and commerce and even impacting air quality for surrounding communities. Every day almost $2 billion worth of products crosses the U.S.-Mexico border, but delays in Texas can exceed 10 hours — this is unacceptable. In places like Deming, New Mexico, students pushed across the border because of unaffordable housing or to be with deported family members get up at dawn to wait hours through highly-militarized security checks to make it to school on the U.S.-side on time. An estimated 40,000 children cross the U.S.-Mexico border for school every day.  First, we will invest in dedicated pedestrian lanes for both U.S. citizens and students, and the “All Lanes Open Initiative” so that there is better traffic flow during the morning rush and expand the program to include evenings. We also need to completely repeal the “hardening measures,” such as concrete barriers topped with razor wire, and limit “tactical exercises” that create choke points and slow down traffic. With the passage of the USMCA, we will increase the number of custom officials and invest in modern technology to more efficiently and effectively inspect and verify goods.
 
Leveling the Playing Field with Trade. As a Senator, I voted for the USMCA — the revised NAFTA agreement. I supported the agreement because it made some improvements for American workers, farmers, and consumers, and Mexican workers too. It guarantees the right to organize for Mexican workers, provides for new investments in combating pollution such as $300 million to stop cross-border sewage flows, and strengthens diplomatic ties with our neighbors at a time that President Trump seeks to divide us.

But we will do much better for border communities in a Warren administration. We need a new approach to trade that works for Americans who have been left behind, including the communities on the U.S.-Mexico border. Instead of pursuing a race to the bottom when it comes to worker’s rights and environmental protection, it is time to use our leverage of the American market to encourage other countries, including Mexico, to elevate their policies. When we raise labor and environmental standards worldwide, we help millions of people living abroad and let American workers compete on a more level playing field.
 
Building the Green Workforce of the Future. Border states are emerging as leaders of the new green economy. Texas is the leading producer of wind energy in the country, California is the leading producer of solar energy, and clean energy investments in New Mexico and Arizona are on the rise. To really bend the curve on climate, we’ll need sustained big, structural change across a range of industries and sectors. My administration will commit to investments in retraining, joint labor management apprenticeships, and creating strong career pipelines to ensure a continuous supply of skilled, available workers. And, we will look for every opportunity to partner with high schools and vocational schools to build pathways to the middle class for kids who opt not to go to college. Outside experts that have looked at my ideas for a Green New Deal to analyze how they will drive job creation have estimated that they will create 10.6 million new green jobs. That means millions of new clean energy jobs in border states and honoring our commitments and a just transition for fossil fuel workers, so that no one is left behind.
 
Honoring our Border Servicemembers and Veterans. Military bases and military families are key drivers of local border economies, from the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma to Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio. Rather than defunding military projects — like military base child care facilities — to build Trump’s “wall”, we should be investing in military readiness, infrastructure, and veterans and their families. From military housing and child care to a 21st century VA system, I will keep our promise to care for our nation’s veterans, service members, and military families.

Read the plan here

As US World Cup Champions Get Keys to City, Rapinoe Issues Challenge: ‘It’s Our Responsibility to Make this World a Better Place’

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

They came in incontrovertible triumph, a study in strength, talent, perseverance, grit, discipline – celebrated role models for girls and women everywhere. True champions, the US Women’s National Team battled on the to become four-time World Cup Champions, winning two consecutive titles, pitch as well as off, their fight for equal pay elevated to national politics.

Just before stepping off for their ticker-tape parade through the Canyon of Heroes through New York’s financial district to City Hall where they would receive the Keys to the City from Mayor Bill De Blasio, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law prohibiting unequal pay on the basis of a protected class for all substantially similar work and forbidding employers from asking prospective employees about their salary history. He also called on U.S. Soccer to pay the women’s national team the same as the men’s national team

“There is no rationale why women should not get paid what men get paid. These are women’s soccer players, they play the same game as the men’s soccer players, and they play it better – so if there is any economic rationale, the men should get paid less than the women,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York will continue to lead the way forward and stand in solidarity with women and girls in every corner of this state. By signing this legislation, we are not only doing the right thing, we are also doing the moral thing and equal pay for equal work is now the law in the State of New York.”

There were signs calling for “Equal Pay,” but few chants could be heard over the squeals of delight when the 2019 World Cup Champions came into view.

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

During the parade, US Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro was all smiles, and when it was his turn to come to the stage – greeted by chants of “Equal Pay, Equal Pay” – was conciliatory, suggesting that prayers – or rather, the court case – would be answered to the women’s satisfaction.

“To our Women’s National Team and the millions who support them, in recent months, you’ve raised your voices for equality.  Today, on behalf of all of us at U.S. Soccer, I want to say, we hear you, we believe in you and we’re committed to doing right by you.

“That’s why, over the years—from our development programs to our youth national teams to our professional leagues to our women’s national team—U.S. Soccer has invested more in women’s soccer than any other country in the world.  We will continue to invest more in women’s soccer than any country in the world.  And we will continue to encourage others, including FIFA, to do the same.

“We believe that all female athletes deserve fair and equitable pay.  Together, we can get this done.

“Because as this team has taught us all, being the greatest isn’t just about how you play on the field, it’s about what you stand for off the field.  It’s about who we are—as a sport and as a country.  The 2019 Women’s World Cup Champions!  The United States of America!  One Nation, One Team!  Go USA!”

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Then Megan Rapinoe came to the stage, a glittering star among stars not just for winning the Golden Boot for most goals and the Golden Ball as the tournament’s most valuable player and co-captaining the team to their victory, but for her bold stand for equal pay, for social justice (she was one of the few athletes who knelt in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick), and her rejection of any invitation by Donald Trump to visit the White House, prompting his twitter ire.

She went out of her way to express appreciation to Cordeiro. “Thank you, you were incredible during the World Cup….. everyone gets booed in a position of power. I will stick my neck out, endorse Carlos. I think he’s on the right side of things. I think he will make things right…”

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Her speech, delivered on the City Hall steps extemporaneously and without notes, was a call to action, and a call to come together.

“This is my charge to everyone. We have to be better, we have to love more, hate less, listen more, talk less, we got to know that this is everybody’s responsibility – every single person here, every single person who’s not here, every single person who doesn’t want to be here, who agrees and doesn’t agree, it’s our responsibility to make this world a better place.

“I think this team does an incredible job of taking that on our shoulders, and understanding the position we have and the platform we have in this world.  Yes we play sports, yes we play soccer, yes we’re female athletes, but we’re so much more than that. You’re so much more than that. You’re more than a fan who supports sports, who tunes in every four years. You’re someone who works these streets every single day, you  interact with your community every day. How do you make your community better, how do you make the people around you better, your family, your closest friends, the 10 closets people, the hundred closest people to you. It’s every single person’s responsibility

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“There’s been so much contention in these last years. I’ve been a victim of that. I’ve been a perpetrator of that. If I’ve (hurt) the Federation  sorry for some of the things I’ve said – not all the things. But it’s time to come together. This conversation is at the next step. We have to collaborate. It takes everybody.

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“This is my charge to everybody: Do what you can. Do what you have to do. Step outside yourself. Be more, be better, be bigger, be better than you ever have been before. If this team is a representation of what you can be when you do that, please take that as an example. This group is incredible. We took so much on our shoulders to be here with you today, to celebrate with you today. And we did it with a smile. So do the same for us.”

Then she ended with classic, mischievous outrageousness: “New York City! You the mother-[expletive] best!!!”

US Women’s National Team celebrated with a ticker-tape parade through Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes in honor of their 2019 World Cup victory © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go towww.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging atwww.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us onfacebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Record Numbers Turn Out for WorldPride NYC 2019, A Celebration of Pride & Joy

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

They came together in celebration, not anger or fear. The common thread among the 150,000 who marched, coming from around the world and across the country, and the estimated 2.5 million who watched along the WorldPride NYC 2019 parade route: Free to be me.

The parade, which took eight hours to complete and was estimated to be the largest Pride event in history, was particularly poignant, honoring the 50th anniversary since the Stonewall Uprising, which are considered the trigger to the modern LGBTQ movement.

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Jim Foray, among the Grand Marshals at the parade, was there that night. He was living just a block away and recalled the Stonewall as a “sleazy bar where we were grateful and exploited.” The bar, reputedly owned by the Mafia, was regularly raided by the police.

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

What a difference 50 years has made, noted Julian Sanjivan, NYC Pride March Director. “They had no way of knowing what the next 50 years would bring, no way to know they were starting a global movement, changing hearts and minds everywhere.” And who could have expected an openly gay and married man, a mayor from South Bend, Indiana, Peter Buttigieg, running for President.

Fear and loathing has given way to pride and joy.

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Five Grand Marshals lead both the 50th NYC Pride March: the cast of POSE, represented by Dominique Jackson (Elektra), Indya Moore (Angel), and MJ Rodriguez (Blanca); Phyll Opoku-Gyimah; Gay Liberation Front; The Trevor Project and Monica Helms.

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah is the nucleus of the award-winning celebration and protest that is UK Black Pride. Widely known as Lady Phyll – partly due to her decision to reject an MBE in the New Year’s Honours’ list, to protest Britain’s role in formulating anti-LGBTQ+ penal codes across its empire – she is a senior official at the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) trade union as the Head of Equality and Learning. She’s a community builder and organizer; a Kaleidoscope Trust Trustee; an Albert Kennedy Trust patron; Diva Magazine columnist, and public speaker focusing on race, gender, sexuality and class.

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Gay Liberation Front was the very first LGBTQ activist organization formed after the Stonewall Rebellion. The courageous members of GLF fought to give political shape and direction to a whole new generation of LGBTQ militancy that spread with unprecedented vigor and impact across the nation and the world.  

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people. The organization works to save young lives by providing support through free and confidential programs, including TrevorLifeline, TrevorText, and TrevorChat. They also run TrevorSpace, the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth, and operate innovative education, research, and advocacy programs.

Monica Helms is a transgender activist, author, and veteran of the United States Navy, having served on two submarines. She is also the creator of the Transgender Pride Flag, in 1999, and subsequently donated the original flag to the Smithsonian Institution in 2014.

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

It was indeed a demonstration of world pride – there were marchers from Copenhagen, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Portugal, Australia, Holland, and so many other places.

American cities and states were represented as well, from coast to coast and in between – from Palm Beach and Orlando to Palm Springs, San Francisco and Venice (California), Austin to Washington DC, Brooklyn, Boston, even Native American tribes.

Here are highlights from the WorldPride NYC 2019:

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Austin Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Capital Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Boston Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Brooklyn Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Orlando Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Palm Springs Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Ft. Lauderdale Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Houston Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Tampa Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Twin Cities Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Italian LGBTI Association. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Bologna Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Germany. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
United Kingdom. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Portugal Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Amsterdam Pride. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Blackfeet Nation. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Celebrating 43 years. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Paying homage to Gilbert Baker, founder of the Rainbow flag WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Paying homage to Gilbert Baker, founder of the Rainbow flag WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
What a difference 50 years make. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

A clear sign of the changing times was the outpouring of elected and government officials who joined the march. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo used the occasion to sign into law legislation banning the gay and trans panic legal defense, a key component of his 2019 Justice Agenda,.

See also:

At WorldPride NYC Parade, NYS Governor Cuomo Signs Law Banning Gay, Trans Panic Legal Defense

See next: Officials Join WorldPride NYC Parade 2019

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© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go towww.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging atwww.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us onfacebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

At WorldPride NYC Parade, NYS Governor Cuomo Signs Law Banning Gay, Trans Panic Legal Defense

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo did not come empty-handed to the WorldPride NYC 2019 parade, perhaps the largest LGBTQIA+ Pride event in history: Cuomo used the occasion to sign into law legislation banning the gay and trans panic legal defense © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo did not come empty-handed to the WorldPride NYC 2019 parade, perhaps the largest LGBTQIA+ Pride event in history: Cuomo used the occasion to sign into law legislation banning the gay and trans panic legal defense (S3293/A2707), fulfilling his pledge to ensure nobody uses this abhorrent legal defense strategy in the State of New York. The Governor signed the measure, a key component of his 2019 Justice Agenda, on WorldPride and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. The Governor also vowed to double down next legislative session on his campaign to legalize gestational surrogacy, which the Assembly failed to take up this year.

“The gay and trans panic defense is essentially a codification of homophobia and transphobia, and it is repugnant to our values of equality and inclusion,” Governor Cuomo said at a press conference on the street before joining the parade. “This defense strategy isn’t just offensive – it also sends a dangerous message that violence toward LGBTQ people is somehow OK. It’s not, and today we’re sending this noxious legal tool to the dustbin of history where it belongs.”

At a press conference before joining the parade, Governor Cuomo said, “What a great, great day this is. New York is so proud. New York is so, so, so proud to host WorldPride. 

“New Yorkers are just New Yorkers. Look, all New Yorkers should be very proud because New York has always been the home of the LGBTQ equality movement, always. It all started here. It started at Stonewall, it started when we hosted the first Pride Day ever. And we’ve kept that legacy alive. This is the leading State in the United States of America for LGBTQ equality. And we don’t just say it, we do it. We prove it here in New York.

“What was the first state to address AIDS and announce the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic? New York. What was the first state to end discrimination against transgender people? New York. What was the first big state to pass marriage equality and send a message across the nation? New York. What was the first state to pass GENDA and end discrimination against transgender people? New York. What was the first state to ban conversion therapy? New York.

“And today, we’re going to sign a bill that ends the codification of homophobia. Because we have now as a law in this state, something called the gay and trans panic defense. That a person can argue – they were so emotionally disturbed when they found out a person was gay or trans that that is actually a justification or an excuse for murder. Not in this state. We are going to – not in this state. Not in this state. Not in this state. Not in this state. Not in this state. And we are going to end the gay and transpanic defense and we are going to do it right now. I will sign this now and end this law. It is now over.

“Congratulations, New York. Let’s lead once again.”

The gay and trans panic defenses allow those accused of violent crimes against LGBTQ people to receive a lesser sentence, and in some cases, avoid conviction, by placing the blame on a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The passage of this bill would close a loophole in state law that currently allows individuals to use the gay and trans panic defenses after attacking another person based upon a perception, or discovery of, that victim’s gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Senator Brad Hoylman said,”By banning the so-called gay and trans panic defense, New York is sending a message to prosecutors, defense attorneys, juries and judges that a victim’s LGBTQ identity shouldn’t be weaponized against them. I’m proud to be a member of a legislature that protects the rights of LGBTQ New Yorkers and thank Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Assemblymember O’Donnell for their leadership on this critical issue. As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, I am extremely grateful to Governor Cuomo for signing this critical piece of legislation into law and look forward to continuing to work with him to make New York a more inclusive, equitable home for the LGBTQ community.”

NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo was joined at the WorldPride 2019 parade by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Chris Quinn, Randi Weingarten, Adriano Espaillat, Jim Gaughran, Jen Metzger, David Weprin, Amy Paulin. Chad Griffin, Alphonso David, Counsel to the Governor, State Senator Brad Hoylman, who’s been a champion, Kristen Browde, Dolores Nettles, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, as well as Cuomo’s three daughters Cara, Mariah, Michaela. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Delores Nettles said, “In 2013, my daughter Islan was killed in Harlem for being who she was. Her attacker used the discriminatory ‘trans panic’ defense. I am so grateful that New York is banning this legislation so that no mother has to go through this again. We must keep fighting so that all trans people can live free from violence and discrimination. Thank you to Governor Cuomo for advocating tirelessly for this bill and for signing it into law today.”

“Banning the “gay and trans panic” defense in New York is an important and long overdue step toward treating the LGBTQ community equitably,” Ethan Rice, Senior Attorney, Fair Courts Project at Lambda Legal. “LGBTQ people in New York should never have to experience violence. When it happens, LGBTQ people certainly should not be faced with blame for this violence. These “defenses” have no place in our justice system. Lambda Legal commends the Governor for signing this bill today and for his ongoing advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community.”

NYC’s Pride Center celebrating at WorldPride NYC 2019. There was much to celebrate: Governor Cuomo had just signed legislation banning the gay and trans panic legal defense © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Glennda Testone, Executive Director of NYC’s LGBT Community Center said, “New York State government has taken another great step in the right direction, legally halting some enduring elements of homophobia and transphobia ingrained in our society. After establishing marriage equality, passing GENDA and ending conversion therapy in our state, Governor Cuomo showed that he is not done fighting for LGBTQ equality, and neither are we. We thank him for taking the gay and trans panic defense out of New York’s court system and for his commitment to equal rights for all people.”  

“Using an individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender as a defense for violent behavior is abhorrent and will not stand in the State of New York,” Harlem Pride and The NYC Black and Latino LGBTQ Coalition said. “We applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership and dedication to protecting the LGBTQ community and closing the legal loophole keeping this archaic practice in place.”

Guillermo Chacon, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS and founder of Hispanic Health Network said,”As we celebrate LGBT Pride and the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall uprising we recognize that outlawing the gay and trans panic defense is long overdue in New York.  We appreciate that this legislation will be signed to ensure this can never happen again and that people impacted by homophobia and transphobia are no longer taking the blame for this antiquated loophole. We thank Governor Cuomo for advancing this important issue and I look forward to him signing this law to increase protections for the LGBTQ community.”

Rod Townsend, Community Leader said, “A person’s gender identity or sexual orientation is never a justifiable reason for violent attack, and Governor Cuomo closes the loophole in state law that allowed for it in cases of first degree murder today.  We look forward to seeing justice for individuals impacted by these crime and will fight to further limit the use of this appalling “blame the victim” strategy in cases of violence against LGBTQ people everywhere.”

Amanda Babine, Director of Policy & Programs at the New York Transgender Advocacy Group said,”Banning the ‘gay and trans panic’ defense was a huge win for the LGBTQI community, especially for our Transgender, Gender-Non-Conforming, & Non-Binary siblings. This year alone, ten Transgender women of color have been found dead, one right here in New York. The New York Transgender Advocacy Group stands with pride next to Governor Cuomo as he continues to be a champion for the LGBTQI community here in New York State.”

Brooke Malloy, Executive Director, Rockland County Pride Center said, “New Yorkers do not tolerate hate. We are a state of love and inclusion, and hold firm to our belief in equality for every person. The fact that there ever was a legal defense for crimes committed against the LGBTQ community, specifically based on their actual or perceived gender identity or sexual orientation is disgusting. Thank you to Governor Cuomo for his leadership in ending this abhorrent law, and for always speaking up and protecting LGBTQ New Yorkers.”

Kelly Metzgar, Executive Director, Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance said,”New York State prides itself on being an inclusive, progressive state, where every person can feel safe and welcome. With his work to end the gay and trans panic defense, Governor Cuomo continues to ensure that everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, receives equal protection under New York State law. I wish to personally thank Governor Cuomo, on behalf of residents in the Adirondack North Country for his relentless work to defend the rights of all who call this beautiful state our home.”

Christopher Goodwin, Supervisor of The MOCHA Center Rochester said, “We at The MOCHA Center and Trillium Health applaud Governor Cuomo for taking swift, progressive action to protect and uphold the rights of LGBTQ New Yorkers. Thanks to his efforts, a dangerous loophole rooted in hate has been erased from our criminal justice system. The gay and trans panic defense should never have been allowed. LGBTQ New Yorkers are grateful that we can now feel safer knowing that we are one step closer to having our lives equally valued and represented under the law.”

Jeff Rindler, Executive Director, Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center said, “This revision to our legal system has been long overdue. The human rights of LGBTQ New Yorkers are non-negotiable, and now this hateful excuse will no longer be a permissible defense for homophobic and transphobic hate crimes, which are on the rise. For transgender women of color who experience higher rates of violence, this law is the next step in solidifying protections for our community. I applaud and thankGovernor Cuomo and all the advocates and legislators who worked tirelessly to pass this legislation.”

Kelsey Louie, CEO, GMHC said, “The beginning of the Stonewall rebellion was in New York City and it was in reaction to hate-fueled actions. Fifty years have passed since the beginning of our LGBT rights movement and New York has been a model for LGBT equality, setting a national standard that the rest of the country must follow. We thank Governor Cuomo for closing a loophole which permitted the murder of gay and trans New Yorkers due to their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. This ensures that justice will be served for LGBTQ New Yorkers who are the victims of homophobia and transphobia.”

Kristen Prata Browde, Board President, LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York and Co-Chair Board of Directors, National Trans Bar Association said,”This shows the kind of change that good government can and should bring. Banning the trans and gay panic defense is a huge step towards equality for LGBTQ New Yorkers. Governor Cuomo not only recognized the absurdity of giving someone a lesser sentence or even a pass after murdering someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, he fought hard for the ban. As the Governor signs the bill he is once again showing that New York truly is a beacon to the world and to every LGBTQ person.”

The Governor also released a new video for social media featuring Delores Nettles, the mother of Islan Nettles, a transgender woman who was brutally murdered in Harlem in 2013 and whose assailant used the gay and trans panic legal defense in court. Watch the video here.

Cuomo Takes Bow in Delivering on Justice Agenda, Calling Legislative Session ‘Most Productive in Modern Political History’

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo took a deserved bow in delivering on the Justice Agenda he laid out at his inauguration, calling this year’s Legislative Session “the most productive in modern political history.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo took a deserved bow in announcing historic progressive accomplishments during this year’s Legislative Session, delivering on his 2019 Justice Agenda first laid out in December, and calling it “the most productive in modern political history.”

“These sweeping reforms will ensure social and economic justice for all New Yorkers, address the devastating impact of climate change, support New York’s ongoing commitment to workers’ rights, modernize transportation systems across the state, and enhance the Empire State’s nation-leading commitment to gender equity and LGBTQ rights. All of this was done while enacting fiscally responsible policies including holding spending growth to 2 percent for the ninth consecutive year, enacting a permanent property tax cap and cutting taxes for the middle class,” the governor’s office stated.

“Six months ago we laid out our 2019 Justice Agenda – an aggressive blueprint to move New York forward – and today I’m proud to say we got it done,” Governor Cuomo said. “At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is what you accomplish, and this was the most progressively productive legislative session in modern history. The product was extraordinary, and we maintained our two pillars – fiscal responsibility and economic growth paired with social progress on an unprecedented and nation-leading scale.”

Here’s a synopsis:

Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act: This legislation enacts the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, creating the most aggressive climate change program in the nation with goals to: reach zero carbon emissions in the electricity sector by 2040; install 9 GW of offshore wind by 2035; 6GW of solar by 2025; 3 GW of energy storage by 2030; and directs state entities to work toward a goal of investing 40 percent of clean energy and energy efficiency resources to benefit disadvantaged communities. Additionally, the law creates the Climate Action Council comprised of the leaders of various state agencies and authorities as well as legislative appointments to develop a plan outlining how the state will achieve an 85% reduction in GHG emissions from 1990 levels by 2050, and eventually net zero emissions in all sectors of the economy. 

Permanent Property Tax Cap: Made permanent the 2% property tax cap, building upon the approximate $25 billion in taxpayer savings since it was implemented in 2012.

MTA Money and Management: Funded the MTA with an estimated $25 billion raised through Central Business District tolling, a new progressive mansion tax, and the elimination of the internet tax advantage. Implemented overdue MTA reforms including the developing a reorganization plan, modifying MTA Board appointments to align with appointing authority, requiring the MTA to undergo an independent forensic audit and efficiency review, and calling for a major construction review unit made up of outside experts to review major projects.

Advancing LGBTQ Rights: Governor Cuomo is enacting transformative legislation in support of LGBTQ rights, including the elimination of the gay and trans panic defense—closing a loophole in state law that allowed individuals to use the gay and trans panic defenses after attacking another based upon that victim’s gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The Governor also enacted into law the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and a ban on LGBTQ conversion therapy.

Establish a Farmworkers Bill of Rights: This legislation established a farmworkers bill of rights, granting overtime pay, a rest day and the right to unionize.

Enact Additional Sexual Harassment Protections: This package of reforms will lower the high bar set for employees to hold employers accountable under the New York Human Rights Law for sexual harassment by amending the requirement that conduct be “severe or pervasive” to constitute actionable conduct; extend the statute of limitations for employment sexual harassment claims filed with the Division of Human Rights from one year to three years; and protect employees’ rights to pursue complaints by mandating that all non-disclosure agreements in employment contracts include language stating that employees may still participate in government investigations conducted by local, state, and federal anti-discrimination agencies

Expand Statutes of Limitations for Rape: Statutes of limitations on rape cases impose a ticking clock on how long victims are able to come forward if they want to seek charges. Over the last year, victims who have suffered in silence for decades have bravely spoken about their abuse, and also have laid bare the state’s limited ability to prosecute their abusers due to the passage of time. In recognition of this fact, states across the country are lengthening or eliminating the statutes of limitations on crimes of sexual violence. This legislation extends the statute of limitations for Rape in the Second Degree and Third Degree, and expand the civil statute of limitations for claims related to these offenses, allowing victims greater opportunity to obtain justice.

Closing the Gender Wage Gap: Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has fought aggressively to increase safeguards for women in the workplace and close the gender pay gap in New York. This package of reforms includes legislation to expand the definition of “equal pay for equal work” to prohibit unequal pay on the basis of a protected class for all substantially similar work and to close any loopholes employers try to use to pay people less on the basis of their gender, race or other protected classes; as well as a salary history ban, which prohibits employers from asking or relying on salary history of applicants and employees in making job offers or determining wages.

Reauthorize and Expand the MWBE Program: The Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise program has been highly successful since its inception, establishing the highest goals for MWBE participation in the entire nation and awarding thousands of state contracts to minority-owned and women-owned businesses. This legislation reauthorizes the MWBE program and extends the provisions of law relating to the participation of MWBEs in state contracts to ensure this effective program continues.

Tenant Protections: This package of reforms, known as Housing Stability and Tenant Protection act of 2019, enacts the most sweeping, aggressive tenant protections in state history, safeguarding affordable housing for millions of New Yorkers.

Remove the Non-Medical Exemptions for Vaccines: The United States is currently experiencing the worst outbreak of measles in more than 25 years, with outbreaks in pockets of New York primarily driving the crisis. As a result of non-medical vaccination exemptions, many communities across New York have unacceptably low rates of vaccination, and those unvaccinated children can often attend school where they may spread the disease to other unvaccinated students. This new law will remove non-medical exemptions from school vaccination requirements for children and help protect the public amid this ongoing outbreak.

Ensuring Quality Education: School aid increased by over $1 billion, bringing total school aid to a record $27.9 billion. In addition, new reporting requirements will address imbalances in the distribution of resources by prioritizing funding at the individual school level in order to advance a more transparent, equitable education system.

Makes the Jose R. Peralta DREAM Act a Reality: Finally opens the doors of higher education to thousands of New Yorkers by giving undocumented New York students the same advantages given to their citizen peers, including access to the Tuition Assistance Program and state administered scholarships such as Excelsior.

Expands Eligibility for the Excelsior Scholarship Free Tuition Program: As the state’s successful free tuition program enters its third year, students whose families make up to $125,000 annually will now be eligible to apply for the program, allowing more than 55 percent of full-time, in-state SUNY and CUNY students—or more than 210,000 New York residents—to attend college tuition-free when combined with TAP assistance.

Criminal Justice Reform: Sweeping criminal justice reform was delivered by eliminating cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent offenses, ensuring the right to a speedy trial, and transforming the discovery process.

Continued Investment in Infrastructure: Builds upon the Governor’s unprecedented commitment to invest $150 billion in infrastructure projects over the next five years.

Delivering on the Gateway Tunnel Project: This legislation establishes the Gateway Development Commission and creates a comprehensive rail investment program for purposes of the project. This bi-state effort, in cooperation with New Jersey, represents significant progress on a crucial project for our nation’s economy and security while restoring our role as a global leader in infrastructure.

Protecting the Environment: The launch of the Green New Deal—the most aggressive environmental protection initiative in the nation, the ban of single-use plastic bags, launch of the food waste recycling program and investment of an additional $500 million in clean water infrastructure, increasing the State’s historic investment to $3 billion, all of which serves to protect New Yorkers while combatting some of the most pressing threats to the environment.

Keeping New Yorkers Healthy: By codifying provisions of the Affordable Care Act, New Yorkers can rest assured that their health needs will be covered, regardless of Washington’s actions.

Supporting Workers’ Rights: Extended Janus protections to all local governments and guaranteed the right to organize and collectively bargain.

Promoting the Democracy Agenda: To boost New York’s voter turnout and ensure that New York’s elections remain fair and transparent, the following initiatives were enacted this year: synchronized federal and state elections, pre-registration for minors, early voting, universal transfer of registration, and the advancement of no-excuse absentee voting, and same-day registration.

Common Sense Gun Reform: Building upon the SAFE Act—the strongest gun control legislation in the country—additional measures were enacted this year to ensure guns were kept out of the wrong hands, including the Red Flag Bill, ban on bump stocks, and extending the background check waiting period.

Signing the Child Victims Act: The signing of this long-awaited legislation provided necessary relief to child victims of sexual abuse by amending New York’s antiquated laws to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions, regardless of when the crime occurred.

Closing the LLC Loophole: Closed the LLC loophole by limiting political spending by an LLC to a total of $5,000 annually, which is the same limit as corporations. The new law also requires the disclosure of direct and indirect membership interests in the LLC making a contribution, and for the contribution to be attributed to that individual.

2019 Women’s Justice Agenda Accomplishments: With the passage of the Reproductive Health Act, Comprehensive Coverage Contraceptive Act, and the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, as well as the ban on revenge porn, and strengthened protections for breastfeeding in the workplace, Governor Cuomo continued his commitment to ensuring fairness and equality for women across New York State.

New capital funding investments this year include:

  • Full Funding for Extreme Winter Recovery: $65 million in State funding for the Extreme WINTER Recovery program. Provides enhanced assistance to local governments for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of local highways and roads impacted by New York State’s harsh winter weather. This unprecedented infrastructure investment in local roads and bridges is in addition to the $478 million in State funding provided through the CHIPS and Marchiselli programs, and $200 million for PAVE-NY and Bridge NY.
  • $120 Million Public Housing Investment: Building on the State’s unprecedented $550 million investment in the New York City Housing Authority, the Governor and Legislature are providing an additional $100 million in capital funding to help support its ongoing transformation while providing $20 million to support housing authorities and other housingoutside of New York City.
  • $100 Million for the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative: The Governor and Legislature are providing $100 million in capital funding to support the State’s up to $300 million commitment to communities impacted by Lake Ontario Flooding. Launched last month, the REDI Commission is working with localities along the shoreline to identify and support projects that will reduce the flooding risk to infrastructure while strengthening the region’s local economies.
  • $20 Million for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority: A $20 million capital appropriation is provided to support the first year of a five-year $100 million commitment from the Governor and Legislature to theNFTA to fund a five-year capital plan for maintenance and improvements of Metro Rail.
  • Penn Station 33rd Street Entrance: $425 million in capital funding will support the Penn Station 33rd Street Entrance project, and others associated with improvements to the Long Island Railroad. Just last month, the Governor unveiled final design renderings for the new main entrance to Penn Station located at 33rd street and 7th Avenue, which will provide much needed direct access to the LIRR Main Concourse and the New York City Subway.
  • $20 Million Investment in Public Libraries: A $20 million capital appropriation to public libraries will help libraries across New York State as they continue to transform into 21st century community hubs.
  • $30 Million for Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program: A $30 million capital appropriation will support the Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program, which under the Governor’s leadership is enabling independent colleges across the state to make critical investments in their infrastructure and equipment by providing matching capital grants.
  • $25 million Security Investment to Protect Against Hate Crimes: A $25 million capital appropriation is included for security projects at nonpublic schools, community centers, residential camps, and day care facilities at risk of hate crimes because of their ideology, beliefs, or mission.