Congressman José E. Serrano

Representing the 15th District of New York

The Serrano Report - Volume XVI, Issue #22

Oct 30, 2017
The Serrano Report

In Washington, DC

Congressman Serrano Continues Efforts to Provide Puerto Rico Adequate Relief Support

Congressman Serrano continues advocating for the island of Puerto Rico on Capitol Hill as it faces a humanitarian crisis post Hurricane Maria. Congressman Serrano released the following statement on the disaster relief efforts aid packet approved in Congress last week and vowed to fight for more funding to help Puerto Rico: 

“This is a first step in addressing the needs of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.  The funding provides short term assistance to the government of Puerto Rico and the federal government, allowing them to continue their relief and recovery efforts. Much more needs to be done, however, to comprehensively address the many housing, health care, environmental, education, and other challenges Puerto Rico is facing in the wake of Hurricane Maria.  As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue to work with my colleagues on the Committee and in Congress to ensure that Puerto Rico receives the funding it needs to fully recover,” said Congressman Serrano.

Congressman Serrano also responded to President Trump’s threat to remove the little federal aid that Puerto Rico has recently received.

“President Trump and his administration have failed to rise to the occasion and has hit a new low with what can only be interpreted as threats to pull out the little aid that Puerto Rico has received so far. This President’s blatant disregard for the 3.4 million American citizens who live in Puerto Rico is inexcusable and a disgrace to our country,” said Congressman Serrano.

This week, he also joined Congresswoman Velazquez and National Nurses United to speak out on conditions that senior citizens, the ill and other vulnerable American citizens are facing on the island. He also spoke on the need for the federal aid for long-term relief efforts at a Unite for Puerto Rico rally on Capitol Hill. 

Representatives Gutierrez, Serrano, Crowley, Velazquez, Kaptur, and McGovern speak on the conditions that senior citizens, the ill and other vulnerable American citizens are facing in Puerto Rico. (10/05/17)

Congressman Serrano urges for more attention and aid for Puerto Rico at the Unite for Puerto Rico rally. (10/11/17)

Leader Pelosi, Rep. Gutierrez, Rep. Velazquez, and Rep. Serrano joining nurses from National Nurses United who volunteered in Puerto Rico. (10/26/17)

Congressman Serrano on Announcement that the PR Federal Oversight Board Will Appoint Chief Transformation Officer

Congressman Serrano welcomed news that the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico will appoint a Chief Transformation Officer (CTO) to oversee the Puerto Rican Electric Power Authority (PREPA):

“A month after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico and brought down the island’s electrical system, most Puerto Ricans still don’t have power. Clearly, drastic actions with regard to PREPA to restore the power grid on the island are necessary at this point.  The steps taken by the Trump Administration to help the island are not encouraging.  PREPA’s actions since the Hurricane have not given confidence either that they are taking the most appropriate steps to change that situation. Its officials have admitted this themselves.

“Appointing a Chief Transformation Officer (CTO) for a short duration will help ensure that the power restoration process gets back on track, federal funds are being well spent, and that trust is restored with those who PREPA serves. The CTO will be able to work hand-in-hand with the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Energy.

“That said, it is important that any actions by the CTO are fully transparent and that this position is accountable to the public. The CTO should respect and follow Puerto Rico’s laws limiting PREPA’s powers, especially with regard to rate increases, and must honor collective bargaining agreements with the authority’s employees. The Puerto Rican people – including the thousands of agency employees who will be impacted during what is already a difficult time – deserve transparency and accountability throughout this process, regardless of who oversees the agency.”

Congressman Serrano Joins Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Velazquez to Call for the Appointment of a point person or Czar to Oversee Recovery Efforts in NY

Last Sunday, Congressman Serrano joined Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez to urge the White House to immediately appoint an experienced emergency “CEO of Response & Recovery” to coordinate the federal response in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Schumer said this individual should have a direct line and access to the President, the Governor of Puerto Rico, all Cabinet Secretaries, members of Congress, and local Puerto Rican officials to help coordinate relief efforts and assist Puerto Rico develop and execute a recovery and rebuilding plan. Schumer said that the federal response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico has been disorganized, slow-footed and mismanaged. Puerto Rico has been completely devastated, and is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. One month after the hurricane, one million American citizens still do not have access to running water, and millions lack electricity.

"A month after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, most of the island is still in the dark, communication is limited, facing some serious health issues and thousands are still living in shelters. It's time for the Trump Administration to give this crisis the attention it deserves. Immediately after Hurricane Maria, I called for the creation of a White House Task Force to coordinate relief efforts post Hurricane Maria. The appointment of an executive or "czar" is a similar idea to help streamline coordination efforts and make sure Puerto Rico's needs are met. President Trump should take this as an opportunity to show he does care about what the 3.4 million American citizens in Puerto Rico are going through," said Congressman Serrano. 

Rep. Serrano, Senator Schumer, and Rep. Velazquez Calling for point person for Puerto Rico response and recovery efforts in New York (10/22/17)

Congressman Serrano Joins Colleagues to Speak Out on Domestic Violence as Part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Coongressman Serrano joined Congressman Espaillat, other members of Congress, and advocates at the Brides March to raise awareness on domestic violence and the ongoing need for further actions to end this type of abuse: 

“In New York City alone, the NYPD responds to nearly 300,000 domestic violence incidents each year. It is time to stop the abuse and stand in solidarity with all the victims who oftentimes suffer in silence.  I was proud to join Rep. Espaillat and Brides March to raise awareness on an issue that has an impact not only on women but in many cases also their children.  As the lead Democrat on the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Department of Justice, I will continue to fight for VAWA funding to help prevent domestic violence and support survivors,” said Congressman Serrano. 

Rep. Serrano, Rep. Espaillat, and Brides March participants on the House Steps (10/24/17)

Serrano, Velázquez, Plaskett, González-Colón Send Letter Urging DeVos to Provide More Assistance for Student Loan Borrowers in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands Affected by Hurricanes

Congressman Serrano led 52 of his colleagues in sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos urging her to do more to help federal student loan borrowers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that have been affected by Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Both territories were decimated after the two storms and continue to experience widespread power outages and lack of communication capabilities that prevent borrowers from having their loans placed in forbearance during this difficult time. With hundreds of thousands of federal student loan borrowers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the letter calls on Secretary DeVos to ensure all servicers are providing benefit information in both English and Spanish, and seek Congressional authority in the upcoming emergency supplemental to automatically place all borrowers affected by Hurricanes Maria and Irma into interest-free forbearance for six months, or until both territories are no longer declared disaster zones. 

“The Department of Education must live up to its obligations to provide borrowers with as much assistance as possible as they rebuild their lives and communities. While this may seem small, it will give our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands the peace of mind to focus on greater priorities instead of paying student loans until they are back on their feet once again,” said Congressman Serrano

Congressman Serrano Leads Letter to DHS Expressing Concerns Over ICE and CBP Violations of Sensitive Locations Policies and Guidelines

Last week, Congressman Serrano led a letter with 84 of his colleagues to the Department of Homeland Security to inquire on the ongoing Sensitive Locations policy violations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials. Congressman Serrano is also an original cosponsor of the Protecting Sensitive Locations Act in a continued effort to protect our immigrant communities and assure them that they do not need to live under constant fear. 

“ICE and CBP should not target vulnerable immigrant families at sensitive locations such as hospitals and schools. This latest report shows that ICE and CBP enforcement actions are endangering lives and undermining the health, safety, and welfare of  immigrants.  Clearly, ICE agents feel empowered by their superiors and the Trump Administration to target immigrants even in what have been stipulated as off-limits locations. The Department of Homeland Security needs to take action at the highest level to stop this behavior, and to ensure accountability when it does occur,” said Congressman Serrano.

Congressman Serrano Welcomes Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities 

Congressman Serrano welcomed his friend Father Joseph M. McShane S.J., President of Fordham University during the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities to annual Capitol Hill visit. 

In the Bronx

Congressman Serrano Hosts 4th Annual African Heritage Celebration in the Bronx

Last week, Congressman Serrano hosted his 4th Annual African Heritage Celebration in the Bronx with local community groups. The event honored groups and community leaders that work with the African Diaspora in the Bronx. This years’ honorees were: Madina Toure, Abubakar Amadu Ali, Sauti Yetu Center for African Women, Dr. Thomas A. Isekenegbe, Nabilah Iddrisuru, Waheera Mardah.

Participating organizations included the Claremont Community Center, Sauti Yetu Center for African Women and Families, the NYC Department of Human Resources Tenant Support Unit, the New York City Commission on Human Rights, African Services Committee, African Communities Together, Planned Parenthood of NYC, Montefiore Medical Center.

“It was a pleasure to once again be able to recognize the contributions of these Bronx community leaders at our 4th Annual Celebration of African Heritage celebration. From educators, to advocates and even entrepreneurs, these individuals and organizations play a crucial role in the African Diaspora community in our borough and beyond. As a quickly growing community in the Bronx, I’m happy to boast that their work helps make the Bronx and our city richer and stronger,” said Congressman Serrano.

Congressman Serrano addresses attendees at the 4th Annual African Heritage Celebration. (10/19/2017)

Congressman Serrano (center) stands with honorees at the 4th Annual African Heritage celebration honorees. (10/19/2017)

Congressman Serrano with Bronx Community College President Dr. Thomas A. Isekenegbe. (10/19/2017)

Congressman Serrano Hosts NASA Astronaut Lee Morin at Bronx Schools

Last week, Congressman Serrano hosted NASA Astronaut and Navy Captain Lee Morin for “Ask An Astronaut” at Bronx Community College and the Bronx Compass High School. The event exposed students to NASA’s mission and work and gave them the opportunity to learn about the many educational and learning opportunities it offers Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students. Captain Morin has flown on STS-110 in 2002 and has logged more than 259 hours in space, including over 14 spacewalk hours.  He was trained as a doctor at both Bronx Municipal Hospital Center and Montefiore Medical Center.

“Captain Lee Morin is a Bronx success story and we were honored to host him this week at Bronx Community College and the Bronx Compass High School to share his experience with young students about to embark to college and considering career options.  Students were thrilled to learn more about his journey and I am sure that this event inspired many to pursue a STEM degree. Our youth needs to be constantly exposed to people like Lee Morin and the endless opportunities that are out there so that they know that sky is the limit and feel encouraged to pursue their dreams,” said Congressman Serrano. 

Congressman José E. Serrano and NASA Astronaut Lee Morin stand with a group of Bronx students at Bronx Community College (10/17/2017).