Assemblymember Victor Pichardo Supports Immigration Reform Package

February 6, 2017

Assemblymember Victor Pichardo (D-Bronx) announced that he helped pass a legislative package to strengthen protections for immigrants (A.3049, A.4884, A.4882, A.4881), as well as legislation to increase access to higher education (A.3039).

“Regardless of what happens in Washington, New York State must continue to serve and represent each and every resident because our diversity is what makes our state great; immigrants should feel safe in their communities and should never be afraid to interact with law enforcement,” said Pichardo.

Under the first piece of legislation, local and state agencies are barred from inquiring about the immigration status of a person seeking assistance, benefits or services if that information is irrelevant (A.3049). The bill also prohibits law enforcement from detaining, questioning or arresting individuals based solely on perceived immigration status and suspected violations of federal immigration law. In addition, it establishes the right to counsel in immigration proceedings.

The second measure prohibits state and local government agencies from using resources to help with the creation or maintenance of any databases based on race, color, creed, gender, sexual orientation, religion or national or ethnic origin (A.4884).

The third piece of legislation prevents the use of Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests to access confidential information provided on applications for municipal IDs (A.4882). The IDs are available to New York City residents, regardless of immigration status, and help connect to vital information, services and public facilities like libraries.

In addition, another bill would reduce the term of imprisonment from 365 days to 364 days for misdemeanor crimes (A.4881). Currently, crimes punishable with a one-year prison sentence or longer, trigger a response from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), putting any undocumented immigrant – regardless of guilt or innocence – at risk for deportation.

The DREAM Act, which has long been supported by Pichardo, would allow undocumented students who were brought here as children to apply for the state Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and other assistance programs, including the Equal Opportunity Program (EOP) and the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), helping put a college education within reach (A.3039). The bill also establishes a private scholarship fund and allows the children of immigrants to access the New York State College Tuition Assistance Savings (529) Program. Eligible students must have attended high school in New York for at least two years and have either graduated or received a high school equivalency diploma.

“I am the son of immigrants,” said Pichardo. “I owe my success to the opportunities a college degree and this state provided me. The DREAM Act represents what New York stands for, and I’ll fight to make it a reality.”