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Howie Hawkins Supports Immigrant Rights, Joins Protests Against Arizona Anti-Immigrant Law

On The Wilder Side:

The only way that the Green Party can regain ballot status in NY is to get 50,000 votes for their Governor candidate in 2010. This opportunity comes only once every four years, and it only applies to the Governor’s race. Gaining ballot status will enable the Green Party to run more peace candidates, more single-payer candidates, more anti-fracking candidates, and more sustainable energy candidates. The last time that the Green Party of New York State had ballot status it set the record for running the most Green candidates of any state.

Howie Hawkins for GPNYS Guv by Shawna ColeHowie Hawkins, the Green Party of New York State candidate for Governor, said today that he is a strong supporter of the rights of people who have immigrated to the U.S. He said he would ensure that local school districts were not illegally requiring children to provide documentation of their status, something that is improperly done in one of five New York school districts, according to a recent survey by the NY Civil Liberties Union.

Hawkins said he supported providing drivers’ licenses to all New York State residents regardless of their immigrant status, a position supported by many law enforcement officials.

Hawkins will spoke at a rally Wednesday July 28 at the Federal Building in Syracuse against the new Arizona immigration law that goes into effect that day.

The Green Party has long advocated allowing all residents, regardless of their immigrant status, to vote in local elections as is the case in European democracies.

Hawkins said:

This country was founded on immigration. With the exception of indigenous peoples and those forcefully brought here as slaves, we are all relatively recent immigrants or descendants of immigrants. It is ironic that the state with the highest percentage of recent out-of-state immigrants, Arizona, has become the most virulently anti-immigrant, attacking those who have routinely traveled and resided there for centuries. Hostile anti-immigrant laws, walls along the border, workplace raids, and armed vigilantes have put an ugly face on our nation.

America at its best welcomes those who come here for economic security, political asylum, and escape from ethnic, sexual, and religious discrimination. I oppose those who seek to divide us for political gain by raising ethnic and racial hatreds, and by blaming immigrants for social and economic problems perpetrated by a severely flawed political system favoring the wealthy.

Hawkins said he strongly support calls for businesses, including sports teams, to boycott Arizona due to its reactionary new immigration law.

“If we’re really concerned about the flow of new immigrants into the U.S., we’d address the damage cause by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA has drained the Mexican economy, destroyed small Mexican businesses, dispossessed farmers from their land, uprooted workers, and depressed wages for the benefit of U.S.-based corporations. International trade authorities have allowed transnational corporations to slash wages, disrupt other nations’ economies by dumping U.S. products on their markets, privatize water and other public goods and services, and pollute the land. So, many new immigrants, especially those who arrive impoverished and without documentation, are fleeing nightmares in their home countries,” added Hawkins.

The Green Party statewide ticket, including Cecile Lawrence and Colia Clark for US Senate, joined Hawkins in advocating for amnesty for undocumented immigrants; immigrant family reunification; creating a humane path to citizenship; and supporting labor rights and living wages for all workers. The Greens have long advocated that immigrants have the right to receive federal benefits such as health care and public assistance.

“Undocumented immigrants are some of the most exploited people in this country. Amnesty is not a “free ride”; it’s something they’ve earned through the kind of hard work that few Albany or Washington politicians or FOX pundits would understand,” noted Hawkins.

Nationally, the Green Party calls for permanent border passes to all citizens of Mexico and Canada whose identity can be traced and verified. Work permits for citizens of Mexico and Canada must be easily obtainable, thereby decriminalizing the act of gainful employment. This action would help eliminate exploitation of undocumented persons by criminals engaged in human contraband (coyotes) and unethical employers. It would also help ensure that taxes will be paid in each corresponding nation per its laws. These measures will also help temporary residents from Mexico and Canada to secure driving privileges and liability insurance.

Labor laws must be adjusted to take into account seasonal foreign workers. The Green Party advocates an end to employer sanctions, which have been shown to hurt not only undocumented workers but also U.S.-born workers.

Greens oppose “English-only” legislation and the use of racial profiling. Hawkins said he would expand funding for English as a Second Language education programs and increase the number of interpreters in government funded programs.

Hawkins also cited studies by the Fiscal Policy Institute that documents the important economic role that immigrants play in New York. New York’s immigrants are responsible for $229 billion in economic output in New York State. That’s 22.4 percent of the total New York State . Despite the common impression that immigrants work primarily in low-wage jobs, immigrants in New York State are entrepreneurs, managers, and workers in jobs at all levels of the economy.

One of the signs of New York City’s revival over the last 25 years has been its population growth. Yet, without immigrants, population in the city would have declined rather than grown in recent years. Immigrants played a very important role in turning the declining neighborhoods of the 1970s into thriving communities today. Today, 37 percent of the New York City population is foreign born. In a city where income polarization is one of the key concerns, immigrants are helping to expand the ranks of the middle class, with family income for people in immigrant families more likely to be in the middle ranges than for people in U.S.-born families. In upstate and the downstate suburbs, about two thirds of immigrants own their own homes.

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