In New York, Immigrant Advocates Join the Chorus Questioning Gillibrand's Nomination to U.S. Senate

Anti-gun activists are howling against Gov. David Patterson’s nomination of Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to succeed Hillary Clinton as the junior senator from New York.

But the Second Amendment isn’t the only issue likely to cause trouble for Gillibrand, judging from a statement released Friday by the New York Immigration Coalition.

“Now that she will be representing a far broader and more diverse constituency, Senator-Designee Gillibrand must reconsider her positions on immigration,” Chung-Wha Hong, the NYIC’s executive director, said in the statement.

As a U.S. representative, Hong said, Gillibrand has taken positions on immigration “that are deeply troubling, to say the least.”

She sponsored legislation that sought to require local police officers to take on immigration enforcement duties, even though police chiefs have testified it would impair their ability to protect the public.

She strongly supported throwing more resources toward ineffective border enforcement, but appeared to oppose any path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Simply put, these are positions that put her at odds with the majority of New Yorkers, whose values reflect our state’s history of welcoming immigrants, as well as with President Barack Obama, who supports a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

As Andrea Batista Schlesinger pointed out on The Huffington Post, Gillibrand has received a high score –a “B”– on the Immigration-Reduction Report Card created by anti-immigration group NumbersUSA. Along with the high scores she has received from the National Rifle Association, this makes her an unpalatable candidate to many New York liberal Democrats.

Additionally, Batista Schlesinger noted that, “according to her website, Gillibrand opposes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and co-sponsored the Secure America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act in 2007. The SAVE Act aimed at reducing the inflow of undocumented immigrants by increasing border security and internal enforcement and complete the fence along the border.”

NYIC’s Hong reminded Gillibrand that she “will move from representing the 20th Congressional District to representing, in its entirety, one of the most diverse states in the nation, where more than one in five residents is an immigrant.”

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.


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