JULY 2003

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Executive Order 34 Generates Controversy
From Hoy
June 4, 2003

By Maxy Sosa

"The consequences that Executive Order 34, passed by Mayor Michel Bloomberg, will have on our communities cannot be spoken of without signaling the responsibility that the Patriot Act One, signed by President George W. Bush, has over it", said Councilmember Margarita Lopez while being questioned on what has become one of the most controversial measures in the city of New York.

Yesterday, on the steps of City Hall, a group of Councilmembers, headed by Hiram Monserrate, Bill Perkins and Miguel Martinez, were met by community activists including Moises Perez, of Alianza Dominicana (Dominican Alliance), Margie McHugh, Representative of the Coalition of Immigrants of New York, members of the 32 sindicates BJ and SEIU, the Arab-American Anti Discrimination Committee, the Arab-American Family Support Center, the Project for the Wellbeing of Immigrant Children, the Legal Aid Society, Make the Road by Walking, as well as Anthony Miranda of the Association of Latino Police. They met to “denounce the new politics of the Bloomberg administration (referring to Executive Order 34) which will corrode the ability of immigrants to accede to the city’s social services for fear that their legal status will be revealed to the federal authorities.”

One of those who did not participate in the event was Councilmember Margarita Lopez, who, when questioned about her absence, responded: “Our city needs to understand that here in the United States they have passed the Patriot Act One at the federal level, and this patriot act has changed all the rules of the game in relation to immigrants, putting out constitution in danger. Due to this, the patriot act one puts undocumented immigrants, of all the people that live in the United States, in danger.”

Lopez added: “Understanding this when the Mayor Bloomberg leaves with the Executive Order 34 we therefore have to put this Order in perspective with the Patriot Act one and that which the mayor is doing, to me seems, is to try to create the best protection possible under the existing circumstances.”

Lopez suggested that “all the parties involved in this theme should be seated to have a sensible dialogue in order to be able to understand the real consequences that this will have, not only on immigrants, rather on [North] American citizens that do not want to hurt an immigrant but the Patriot Act has put them in a situation in which our nation has to feel ashamed of where it has taken us."

The Councilmember assured people that they should not be afraid to take their children to school, to a hospital, or to report crime for fear that the information they provide be referred to the federal authorities and used to implicate them.

The office of the Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded to the press conference summoned by the Councilmembers and community activists in a press release in which he signaled that “the Order instructs the city workers not to ask people soliciting their services about immigration status unless the law requires it, or if the information is necessary to a criminal investigation”. Bloomberg closed his message saying: “It is lamentable that those who do not understand the Executive Order are doing so much damage to the communities they represent, propagating the fear when they say that they will be punished for soliciting social or medical services”.

 

Translated from Spanish by Charlotte Triggs.

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