Congressman José E. Serrano

Representing the 15th District of New York

The Serrano Report - Volume XII, Issue #27

Dec 7, 2015
The Serrano Report

In Washington, DC

Congressman Serrano Sends a Letter to Sec. Kerry Addressing Impunity and Corruption in Honduras
On Friday, Congressman José E. Serrano—along with 53 members of the House of Representatives—sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to support the creation of a UN-sponsored commission to reduce impunity and corruption in Honduras.  The proposed International Commission against Impunity in Honduras, modeled on the successful International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, would bring an international, independent team of prosecutors and investigators to help root out corruption and reduce impunity. The initiative is supported by an overwhelming number of Hondurans and a broad range of civil society organizations. For years, Honduras has been plagued by extreme levels of violence that have driven thousands to flee to the U.S. and by rampant corruption by political parties, business people, and government officials. An independent, internationally-backed commission will help restore justice and Hondurans’ faith in their government.

Click here for the full text of the letter and the press release in Spanish.

“This is a key issue to the future of Honduras,” said Congressman José E. Serrano.  “We cannot expect to fully address issues of violence and instability in Honduras when people do not feel as though they can trust their government or judicial system.  It is time to establish an independent commission to root out corruption and restore trust.”

“The scale of the problem cannot be understated.  There have been serious allegations of corruption involving political parties, business people, and government officials.  However, the Honduran government has failed to investigate adequately and lacks the independence necessary to address the severity of the issues.  For that reason, hundreds of thousands of Hondurans from every walk of life have protested to demand justice. A central demand of this movement—backed by a broad range of civil society organizations—is for Honduras to establish an independent, UN-sponsored International Commission against Impunity in Honduras (CICIH), modeled on the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG, in Spanish). The goal of the commission is to bring an international, independent team of prosecutors and investigators to help root out corruption and reduce impunity.  We believe this is the only way to ensure justice and the rule of law in Honduras,” the letter says. 

The letter was signed by Representatives Kaptur, Ruppersberger, Hank Johnson, Speier, Schakowsky, Rangel, DeFazio, Slaughter, Lofgren, Conyers, DeLauro, McDermott, Capuano, Gutiérrez, Lowenthal, Honda, Grijalva, Ellison, Nolan, Pocan, Loretta Sanchez, Huffman, David Price, Rush, Moore, Waters, McCollum, Hastings, Tonko, Cárdenas, Edwards, Schrader, Lynch, Danny Davis, Norton, Quigley, Keating, Matsui, Bonamici, Garamendi, DeSaulnier, Chu, Bass, Pingree, Becerra, Yarmuth, Susan Davis, Kind, Cleaver, Clay, Cartwright, Lieu, and Bordallo.

HSI National Security Amendment

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Intelligence Authorization agreement, legislation that funds the nation’s intelligence programs. The agreement includes a bipartisan provision authored by Reps. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, José E. Serrano (D-the Bronx), and Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) to provide national security training grants to Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) of higher education to prepare students for careers in national security. The bill will now head to the President’s desk for his signature.

The Crowley-Serrano-Curbelo provision allows the Director of National Intelligence to provide grants to HSIs to offer advanced foreign language education and study abroad and cultural immersion programs to increase diversity in the national security and intelligence community. The goal is to prepare America’s fastest-growing minority for careers in national security.

“As the number of job opportunities and importance of the national security and intelligence fields increases, Hispanics and other minorities must be prepared to compete for these opportunities. Too often, Hispanics don’t pursue these types of opportunities, not for lack of interest, but rather because they don’t have the preparation and support to do so. This amendment, which is now part of the final bill, will help close this gap by facilitating Hispanics’ access to a strong education in national security matters. Ensuring increased diversity in these fields will help make America stronger and more secure,” said Congressman Serrano.

The members have long supported grant opportunities for HSIs. In May, Crowley, Serrano, and Curbelo, along with Reps. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and Will Hurd (R-TX), successfully led an amendment to the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act to require the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a grant program to support undergraduate STEM education at HSIs. The amendment was the latest move in the longstanding effort to establish this program, including recent legislation introduced by Serrano, Crowley, and Luján in April.

Click here to read the full press release on the amendment.


Puerto Rico Day of Action

On Wednesday, Congressman Serrano joined other elected officials, community leaders, and activists to urge Congress to Take Action on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.  The island and its 3.5 million American citizens are in an economic crisis, and the federal government has yet to take any action to alleviate the situation.

“Millions of American citizens are suffering from healthcare disparities and a frightening economic crisis," said Congressman Serrano. "Many are in danger of losing much of what they have. Our goal today is to deliver a clear message to my colleagues in Congress: It’s time to take action on Puerto Rico. We are not asking Congress to do anything they would not do for other parts of the U.S. We are only asking them to do what is only fair for millions of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico. The President has laid out a good roadmap to address the crisis- now it is Congress’ turn to act. 5 million Puerto Ricans in the U.S. are watching.”


Serrano Votes In Support of the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015

On Thursday, the House and Senate passed the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015. The bill reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, currently known as the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act,  to establish national education standards in an effort to close achievement gaps. While the bill contained some contentious elements, the House and Senate were finally able to pass the bill with bipartisan support.

“I applaud Republicans for supporting this bill and being able to compromise on this legislation. This is the first step in reforming our education system and ensuring that students, especially those in low-income public school districts, receive a high-quality education, said Congressman Serrano. “This bill will help our schools to become adequately prepared to educate our students by setting state-wide curriculum standards, and addressing inequities in hiring, professional training and teaching. As a former paraprofessional, I will continue to advocate for high-quality education for all our children.”

In February, Congressman Serrano joined Congressmen McKinely and Quigley to offer an amendment to H.R. 5, the Student Success Act. The amendment sought to ensure that federal employment standards for paraprofessionals in public schools are reinstated with passage of H.R. 5. It passed the House by a vote of 218 to 201.



In the Bronx

Serrano Participates 161st St B.I.D Santa Day
Last weekend, Congressman Serrano joined the annual month-long Santa Claus on the Grand Concourse. Each year, The Concourse Plaza Mall sponsors a Santa for each weekend leading up to Christmas. The 161st BID provides the candy canes that the Santa hands out to attendees.

Congressman Serrano was delighted to help Santa give out candy canes to all those who passed by. “This is always a fun way to get Bronxites excited for the holiday season," said Serrano. "Thanks to the Concourse Plaza Mall and 161st BID, the joy of the holidays can be felt all throughout the concourse. I hope to see this tradition continue for years to come.”


Serrano Attends NYBG Christmas Tree and Menorah Lighting Ceremony

On November 22nd, Congressman Serrano and his son, State Senator Serrano joined other elected officials for the annual New York Botanical Garden's (NYBG) tree and menorah lighting. The ceremony took place at Fordham in the Bronx.

Congressman Serrano with (from left):  Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, Congressman Eliot Engel, State Senator Jeff Klein, and State Senator Jose M. Serrano.


Hunger Coalition Event Bronx

On Wednesday, November 25th, Congressman Serrano joined the New York City Coalition Against Hunger and other elected officials at Caldwell Temple A.M.E Zion Church Soup Kitchen in order to announce the results of the 2015 Hunger Survey.  After the announcement, the Congressman joined with elected officials and volunteers from the community in giving much needed food to individuals and families in the Bronx.

“As the numbers in this report show, nearly half working adults in the state are food insecure," said Congressman Serrano. "This is a crisis and a shame for the richest city in America. Not only have food prices risen, but access to key food programs has decreased due to Republican budget cuts. We need to address this issue quickly by helping make sure vulnerable families and hunger organizations have access to the financial support they need to access and provide food. That is why the work that goes on at the Caldwell Temple Soup Kitchen is so important to our community. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will continue to fight to ensure that Bronxites have access to food and nutrition resources."

Congressman Serrano with members of the NYC Coalition Against Hunger