Congressman José E. Serrano

Representing the 15th District of New York

The Serrano Report, Volume XI, #22

Oct 3, 2014
The Serrano Report

In the Bronx

Congressman Serrano Celebrates First Annual African Heritage Month Celebration

Last Thursday, U.S. Congressman José E. Serrano (D-NY) hosted the first African Heritage Month Celebration in the Bronx. During the celebration, Congressman Serrano honored the work of four African community leaders who have distinguished themselves for their work in New York City and the Bronx and presented them with statements to be submitted into Congressional Record:  Dr. Bola Omotosho, Chair, Community Board #5; Stephanie Arthur, President and Founder of S. Arthur Group LLC; Djounedou Titikpina (Titi) President of African People Alliance (APA), Inc.; and Sheikh Moussa Drammeh, Principal of the Islamic Leadership School.

“Last week, I had the pleasure of hosting the First Annual African Heritage Month in the Bronx to celebrate the many contributions of the African community and honor the work of some of the remarkable leaders that are truly making a difference in our borough.

“People like Dr. Omotosho, Ms. Drammeh, Ms. Arthur, and Mr. Titikpina work tirelessly every day on behalf of the African community and the Bronx as a whole.  They are a small representation of a vast community that is changing the face of the Bronx and I was thrilled to recognize their achievements and contributions. I look forward to continue working with them in the future, and celebrating African Heritage Month in the Bronx for years to come,” said Congressman Serrano.


CAPTION: Congressman Serrano stands with honorees and other members of the Bronx African community at the First Annual African Heritage Month Celebration.

Congressman Serrano Announces $350,000 in Funding for the Bronx Defenders Holistic Defense 

On Monday, U.S. Congressman José E. Serrano (D-NY) announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Assistance, has awarded a $350,000 grant to the Bronx Defenders for Holistic Defense. Awarded through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, these funds will allow the Bronx Defenders to provide 24 months of intensive training to public defender offices in their comprehensive interdisciplinary approach to defending clients, while addressing related civil legal issues and providing non-legal social work support in the Bronx.

 “I am extremely pleased to announce that a groundbreaking organization like the Bronx Defenders has been awarded federal money to continue helping our community and to bring their model to other localities.  Bronx Defenders offers legal services for criminal trials, but their service model goes well beyond that. It also offers social services and help with employment, housing, and other issues that may arise because of a person’s involvement with the criminal justice system.

“Its interdisciplinary approach is a great example of what can be achieved when we treat each person as an individual with unique needs, when we work to mitigate the impact of the criminal justice system on their lives, and when we promote alternatives to incarceration.  I am glad to see the Department of Justice recognize the success of their work, just as so many in the Bronx already have,” said Congressman Serrano

When a person is charged with a crime, Bronx Defenders for Holistic Defense examine his or her personal circumstances, their lives and needs, and makes these factors an important component of their legal case. They also address the impact that facing criminal charges may have in other areas of their life – including employment status, housing, and family situation.  Bronx Defenders approach is to provide comprehensive support for all of these issues, in order to address the full impact of the criminal justice system on an individual, their family, and their community. This grant will allow the Center to continue for an additional two years their training and assistance to public defenders that want to adopt the holistic defense approach in their own jurisdiction. For more information about Bronx Defenders, please visit:


In New York City

Congressman Serrano Applauds Mayor de Blasio's Expansion and Increase of NYC Living Wage 

On Tuesday, Congressman José E. Serrano applauded Mayor de Blasio’s Executive Order to expand New York City’s Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act and raise the living wage from $11.90 to $13.13 per hour for workers who don’t receive benefits, and from $10.30 to $11.50 for workers who do receive benefits. Mayor de Blasio announced the initiative in the Bronx with U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez.

“This is welcome news for Bronx residents and I applaud Mayor De Blasio’s efforts to raise the standard of living for many hard working families who need to make ends meet. Thanks to this initiative, thousands of families in New York, including many in my congressional district, will have access to up to an additional $10,000 in additional financial resources each year. Mayor De Blasio has taken an important step close the gap between the rich and the poor in our city and provide our families with more economic opportunities,” said Congressman Serrano.

Under the new mandate, commercial tenants that receive more than $1 million in City subsidies will now be covered by the Living Wage provision, increasing the number of workers who qualify from 1,200 to 18,000. According to City estimates, more than 4,000 of the workers who will benefit from the law over the next five years earn close to the state’s minimum wage of $8 an hour and will see an annual income increase of $10,000 – a pay increase from $16,640 to $27,310. Today’s announcement is one of the steps Mayor de Blasio has taken to address income inequality in the City.

For more information about Mayor de Blasio's Executive Order to expand and increase New York City's Living Wage today click HERE

Serrano Applauds $120,000 Grant for the New York Immigration Coalition

Last Friday, Congressman José E. Serrano applauded the awarding of a $119,340 justice AmeriCorps grant to the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) to facilitate legal representation to unaccompanied minors who face immigration proceedings in New York City.  The funding is part of a total of $1.8 million in federal grants announced last week by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which jointly administer the AmeriCorps National programs, to help children who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border without a parent or legal guardian.

The NYIC coalition will recruit and place eight justice AmeriCorps Fellows in different NYC legal services organizations. Grantees will also help identify children who have been victims of human trafficking or abuse, and refer all relevant cases to the proper authorities for investigation and prosecution.

“One of the main challenges that unaccompanied minors encounter after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border is having to go through immigration court completely alone. Left to their own devices, more often than not they end up facing deportation even if they qualify for some sort legal protection or asylum. Human trafficking and child abuse crimes that may have been committed against them also end up unreported.  That is why I pushed to increase flexibility for the Executive Office of Immigration Review to increase legal representation for minors and other vulnerable groups in last year’s Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill. With this initiative, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) have taken an important step to help NYC and the rest of the nation deal with the large number of unaccompanied children arriving in the U.S. and to protect one of our most vulnerable populations,” said Congressman Serrano. “New York City has seen one of the largest influxes of unaccompanied children. This funding and the services that the New York Immigration Coalition will coordinate are crucial for our city and for our immigrant families. Together with Mayor De Blasio’s direct social services initiative announced last week, and the funding recently provided by the New York City Council, this firmly establishes New York City as a leader in providing fair treatment and due process to unaccompanied minors,” he added.

This funding comes on top of two initiatives recently announced by Mayor De Blasio and the City of New York to provide direct social services for the first time ever to unaccompanied minors and their family or legal guardians at the NYC Immigration Court. Representatives from NYC’s Department of Education (DOE) and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) will be stationed at the federal immigration court to help them access health care, education and other social service programs. The New York City Council will also join efforts with two philanthropic organizations - the Robin Hood Foundation and the New York Community Trust - and give a total of $1.9 million in funding to a coalition of organizations in New York to provide legal representation and other services to unaccompanied immigrant children. Some of the organizations that will receive funding for these purposes are: The Door, The Legal Aid Society, Catholic Charities Community Services, and the Safe Passage Project.

Congressman Serrano Applauds City Council Bill to Limit Use of ICE Retainers

Yesterday, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, along with Council Members Daniel Dromm, Rafael Espinal, and Immigration Committee Chair Carlos Menchaca announced groundbreaking legislation to protect immigrants in New York by restricting the use and enforcement of ICE detainers. Under current New York City law, the New York Police Department honors detainer requests without a judicial warrant and in cases where individuals are accused of a felony or certain misdemeanors. This legislation will limit even further the City’s collaboration with ICE by allowing detainer requests only if the person arrested has been convicted of a violent or serious crime during the previous five years or found to be a possible match on the terrorist watch list.

“ICE detainers have had a terrible impact on our immigrant families and we need to restrict their use and enforcement here in New York City. It’s simply unacceptable that someone can end up facing deportation after being arrested for minor crimes they may not even be guilty of committing. Numerous court cases have demonstrated that ICE detainer requests are voluntary for states, and this bill will limit the role they play in the City by allowing them only when the subject has been convicted of a serious crime in the past five years. I applaud the efforts of Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito to protect NYC’s immigrants and help promote an environment where they can live without constant fear of deportation,” said Congressman Jose E. Serrano (D-NY).

For more information about the bill, click HERE or HERE.

Grant Announcement

Early Head Start Grantee - Bronx County, New York

Deadline: November 24, 2014  

The Department of Health and Human Services has made funding available through the Administration for Children and Families to support interested parties interested in providing Early Head Start services in Bronx County. This Early Head Start program will provide services to eligible infants, toddlers, pregnant women, and their families who reside in The Bronx. All nonprofits, institutions of higher education, community or faith-based organizations, for-profit agencies, public housing authorities, and local government groups are encouraged to apply.

Please follow this link for the full grant announcement For more information about federal grants please visit