BY TRONE DOWD
Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) dropped by the Jamaica Muslim Center on Friday to reassure his Muslim and South Asian constituents that the city is working hard on their behalf to ensure their safety against President Donald Trump’s immigration initiatives.
Weprin’s visit came less than 24 hours after three judges from the Federal Court of Appeals halted the president’s ban on refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim nations. In their report, the judges declared that the ban was “contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy,” upholding the freeze on the restriction immediately.
Weprin told his Southeast Queens constituency that he was happy with the news.
“The city and state and federal government have a responsibility to all New Yorkers and people across the country, and I’m glad to say that each of the branches of government have taken steps to protect the vulnerable immigrant population in the last week alone,” he said. “The ban did not improve our national security and it also discriminated against visa holders and green card holders.”
The assemblyman explained that he and his colleagues are working to further secure the rights of immigrant New Yorkers. According to Weprin, on Feb. 6 the state Assembly passed a package of bills related to this issue known as the New York State Liberty Act. The bill would ensure that New Yorkers are not questioned about immigration status when seeking state and local services, benefits and assistance. The bill would also exempt police officers from stopping and investigating individuals based solely on perceived immigration status or violations of federal immigration law.
“It would also require notification to an individual if an immigration detainer or any related request has been filed,” Weprin said. ”It also curtails the use of local or state facilities for the purposes of federal immigration enforcement and establishes a right to legal representation for those individuals subject to removal or deportation proceeding.”
Weprin told the PRESS of Southeast Queens that the bill has not passed in the state Senate yet, but he is confident that Gov. Andrew Cuomo would approve the legislation if it makes it to his desk.
“I think that it’s important symbolically to react to what’s happening and the fear that’s out there among the immigrant and Muslim community,” Weprin said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the ban is unconstitutional. What basis is there that there’s any danger of any of the individuals coming from those countries? There’s no linkage, no proof.”
Although a majority of the Queens residents who attend the Jamaica Muslim Center are not from the seven countries, but instead hail from South Asian countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan, Weprin said that his main concern is that they’ll be the next communities targeted if such a ban is allowed to stand.
“There’s no question in my mind that other countries would be next on the list,” he said. “It’s un-American and goes against everything that we stand for. No one should have to choose between observing their religion and having to provide for their families.”
Reach Trone Dowd at (718) 357-7400 x123 firstname.lastname@example.org or @theloniusly