Fixing Our Immigration System
New York City is known for its diversity, with people from all over the world settling in our great City. For years Ellis Island was the gateway to opportunity for immigrants and even now, our City continues to be a destination for those looking for a new home.
In New York, immigrants are responsible for nearly $230 billion in economic output, while accounting for 35 percent of the New York metro areas workforce. As a result, workers from China, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Poland, and Italy - among other countries - are essential for our local community to grow and prosper. For these reasons, Representative Velázquez has taken several actions to improve the rights and lives of immigrants.
As the Chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), Representative Velázquez spearheaded the House passage of the DREAM Act, which would have allowed undocumented workers under the age of 30 to receive amnesty as long as they are of "good moral character" and intended to enroll in college/vocational school or the military. Under the Act, an undocumented worker would have received a 10 year work permit and after that period would receive full amnesty. Unfortunately, the DREAM Act failed to pass the Senate and become law, but Representative Velázquez continues to fight for its enactment into law.
Also during her tenure as Chairwoman of the CHC, she pushed for reforms that improved working conditions, protected civil rights and created new economic opportunities for all Americans. With her leadership, the Caucus worked closely with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) to fight against the inclusion of burdensome citizenship verification requirements that keep immigrants from accessing federal assistance.
Representative Velázquez worked to secure an investment of $2.5 billion dollars to Minority Serving Institutions over the next decade in the Higher Education Reconciliation Act. She also worked with the Census Bureau and the Department of Justice to make certain that census data would remain confidential. The CHC under the leadership of Representative Velázquez worked to defeat an amendment by conservative Republicans to require the 2010 census to ask about the citizenship status of respondents.
She also has sought to increase resources for English Language Learners throughout New York City. She introduced the Language Education for Success Act, which addresses the needs of the growing immigrant population, fostering a more efficient education system to promote success.
In Congress, Representative Velázquez remains committed to working for comprehensive immigration reforms and ensuring that these diverse populations are treated fairly and respectfully. Doing so is essential to making these vital communities a part of New York City’s social and economic fabric.