National Immigration Forum

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New York City Leads, Will New York State Follow?

January 23, 2009 - Posted by Douglas Rivlin

Much is being said in the pro-migrant blogosphere and elsewhere (here and here) about New York Governor David Paterson’s appointment of Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to the U.S. Senate to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  


Rep. Gillibrand has not distinguished herself (in a positive way) with pro-immigrant advocates because of her support for the SAVE Act in the 110th Congress, a bill co-sponsored by Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO, now retired), which would have made the flawed E-Verify system mandatory for all American employers.


A press release from the New York Immigration Coalition had this to say in response to the news of Rep. Gillibrand’s appointment:


At a time when Congress has a clear mandate to fix our broken immigration system, we don’t need rhetoric that divides us, pitting immigrant workers against native-born workers; we need solutions that bring us together and make America stronger.  We hope that in her new position representing the state as a whole, Senator-Designee Gillibrand will be a strong advocate for just and humane immigration reform, devising a practical and realistic solution to bringing undocumented immigrants into the system and reforming our immigration system so that it is fairer to all.


If NYIC is right and Rep. Gillibrand changes her tune as Senator Gillibrand, it would make a lot of sense.  Consider what a leader New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is on the immigration issue.


Speaking before the annual winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington on Monday (1/19/09, a video is here), Mayor Bloomberg had this to say:


The cities of this country are America’s future, and that’s what I wanted to talk about for a few minutes.


Number one, our cities are demographically America’s future.  Our country is becoming evermore ethnically diverse and our cities are on the leading edge of that trend.


Cities continue to be the magnates for all those immigrants and native-born who seek better opportunity and a better life and that reaffirms what is best about our nation.  It’s good news for our cities’ future and for America’s future.


And now to realize that promise, we need a renewed partnership with Washington.


So I think we should put our President and Congress on notice and force them to work on a consistent immigration policy… (applause) …One that stresses effective enforcement and also includes reforms putting immigrants on course to becoming American citizens.




This country was built by people from overseas and its future is there… (applause)…


We can only hope Rep. Gillibrand was listening.


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