Congressman José E. Serrano

Representing the 15th District of New York

The Serrano Report - Volume XIV, Issue #14

Sep 24, 2016
The Serrano Report

In Washington, DC

Congressman Serrano Introduces Legislation to Reform DHS and DOJ Bail setting and Detention Processes

On Wednesday, Congressman Serrano was joined by 28 Democratic members of Congress in introducing the Immigration Courts Bail Reform Act, legislation to reform the bail setting and detention processes at the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.

Currently, many immigrants –including some seeking asylum—are held in a detention facility for no reason other than they are too poor to pay the set bond amount. The process lacks basic safeguards to protect indigent immigrants who do not pose a danger to the community and who are not a flight risk.  Neither the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which is in charge of the initial bail setting process, nor the Department of Justice (DOJ), which makes a custody redetermination in an immigration court setting at the immigrants’ request, have official policies to take into consideration an individuals’ financial ability to pay when setting a bond amount.

“Immigrants that pose no threat to U.S. security should not have to sit in detention facilities simply because they are too poor to pay bail. The current immigrant detention and bail setting system is not only unfair and inhumane, but it also results in millions in taxpayer money wasted every year holding in detention individuals that don’t belong behind bars. The Immigration Courts Bail Reform Act will reform the bail setting process to make our immigration system more fair and efficient.”

Read more about the Immigration Courts Bail Reform Act here:

Congressman Serrano, Congresswoman Clarke, and Congressman Payne Lead 36 Members of Congress in Calling for the Extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for People from Nations Stricken by Ebola

On Tuesday, Congressman Serrano and 35 colleagues sent the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) a letter urging the agency to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible nationals of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone for eighteen months, from November 21, 2016 through May 21, 2018. Extended TPS will allow these countries to continue their recovery from the Ebola epidemic that has killed 11,000 people since 2014, and will ensure that citizens of those nations will not be forced to leave the United States during the duration of this status. In addition to Congressman Serrano, the lead drafters of the letter included Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke of New York and Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr., of New Jersey.

In 2014, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson authorized people that were from countries  threatened by the Ebola virus and who were already in the United States to apply for TPS to remain in the United States for the duration of the crisis and allows these individuals to legally work in the United States.  Reports from public health agencies and government authorities indicate that conditions in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone still remain unsafe, with a lack of proper medical care available for many people and severe economic disruptions. Without an extension, the Temporary Protected Status would lapse in November.

“The Ebola outbreak remains a threat in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone,” said Congressman Serrano. “Immigrants from these countries, including many in my district, need an extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in order to remain safe in the United States, to allow their home nations to rebuild their infrastructure and continue their recovery, and to help family members with financial resources necessary to help prevent the spread of the disease. I join my colleagues in urging Secretary Johnson to extend the TPS designation for these three nations.”

Late on Thursday, the Depertment of Homeland Security announced a six month TPS extension for individuals from Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

Congressman Serrano Leads 40 Members of Congress in Urging DHS Secretary to Reform ICE Telephone Access Policies

On Monday, Congressman Serrano led a letter signed by 40 Members of Congress urging the Secretary of Homeland Security to expand access to telephones at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and ICE contract detention facilities. 

Earlier this year, ICE settled a lawsuit in the Northern District of California in which they committed to numerous reforms to expand access to telephones at four detention facilities.  The letter urges the Department to expand to all ICE detention facilities these important reforms, which include: more telephones, free calls to detainees, more access to toll free numbers for all individuals in detention, increased education for detainees of telephone policies, and access to phone booths and other more private locations to ensure privacy.

“Many individuals in immigration detention are held at facilities far from where their trial will take place and from where their family lives.  Because of this, access to telephones is crucial in allowing these individuals to obtain legal counsel or build a case in immigration court. Everyone, regardless of their immigration status, deserves a fair trial. Expanding the important reforms that were recently implemented in parts of California will ensure that all individuals that have been detained by ICE have access to these basic rights. Now that this important precedent has been set, we urge ICE to commit to expanding these policies to all detention facilities nationwide,” said Congressman Serrano.

Click here to read a full text of the letter:

Congressman Serrano Honored at Institute for Family Health Event on Capitol Hill

Last week, Congressman Serrano was recognized by the Institute for Family Health after participating in their Capitol Hill event on federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and the high-quality care they provide individuals in underserved communities like the Bronx.

“The Institute for Family Health has five health centers and provides great services to my constituents in the Bronx. Through their work, they are helping to transform primary care to meet the needs of Bronxites. I thank them for their work and look forward to continuing to work with them in the future,” said Congressman Serrano.

Institute for Family Health

Congressman Serrano receives a Certificate of Appreciation from Neil Calman, President and CEO of the Institute for Family Health. (9/13/2016)


Congressman Serrano Sends Letter to Task Force on Economic Growth in PR

Earlier this month, Congressman Serrano sent a letter to the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico with recommendations as it decides how it will assist the island. The most important of these is addressing Puerto Rico's colonial status, which has a significant negative impact on the economy.

“The Task Force’s work will be crucial in ensuring Puerto Rico successfully emerges from the current crisis and avoids similar problems in the future. As such, it is important that it includes key issues that are oftentimes considered irrelevant, given lower priority, or simply considered an afterthought when it comes to Puerto Rico’s economy. The most important of these is addressing Puerto Rico's colonial status, which has a significant negative impact on the economy.  That is by far the most important economic stimulus for Puerto Rico's economy. Beyond that issue, equal access to federal health care benefits and programs; equal access to federal poverty programs and tax policies; and energy reforms are also key to the economic  recovery. Including these changes in its recommendations will help the Task Force create a comprehensive proposal to assist Puerto Rico in its time of need and prevent a similar future crisis. I very much hope the task force will give them every consideration,” said Congressman Serrano.

Read a full text of the letter here:

In the Bronx

Congressman Serrano Joins Other New York Elected Officials to Brief Community on Zika

Last month, Congressman Serrano joined Mayor de Blasio and other elected officials from NYC to update New Yorkers on their efforts to combat the Zika virus. New York has already committed $21 million dollars so far, but more needs to be done. Unfortunately, as a Member of the conference committee tasked with providing funding to address this crisis, Congressman Serrano has seen firsthand how the Republican majority in Congress has politicized this public health crisis, and how they have refused to appropriate themoney necessary to fight this dangerous disease. At the press conference, they urged Republicans in Congress to approve the full $1.9 billion necessary to fight this epidemic. In addition, Congresswoman Velazquez, Resident Commissioner Pierluisi and Congressman Serrano sent a letter to Speaker Ryan yesterday urging him to get Congress to allocate and approve the funding necessary to. It is time to act. Read more

Serrano de Blasio Presser


Congressman Serrano Announces More than $500,000 in Federal Funding for Six Health Care Facilities in the Bronx

Earlier this month, Congressman José E. Serrano also announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded six hospitals and health care centers in the Bronx a total of $550,493 in federal funding through grants. The grants will support a wide range of general and specialized care at each of the health care providers’ locations in the South Bronx.  

“Our hospitals, community health centers, and non-profits in the Bronx deliver the best care to some of our borough’s most vulnerable residents,” said Congressman Serrano. “This funding is crucial to ensuring these facilities continue providing high-quality health care to those who need it most, including dental care and specialized care for patients living with HIV/AIDS. I am proud of the work these organizations do on a daily basis to protect the health and well-being of Bronxites and all New Yorkers, and I’m pleased to see they are receiving the support they need from the federal government.”

The funding will be distributed as follows:

Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center (Dental Reimbursement Program) - $271,800

HELP/Project Samaritan Services Corp. (Health Center Cluster) - $35,000

La Casa De Salud, Inc. (Health Center Cluster) - $35,000

St. Barnabas Hospital and Healthcare System (Dental Reimbursement Program) - $138,693

Union Community Health Center (Health Center Program) - $35,000

Vocational Instructional Project Community Services, Inc. (Health Center Program) - $35,000


Congressman Serrano Announces $322,000 in Funding for South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation

Earlier this month, Congressman Serrano announced that the U.S. Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) has awarded $321,800 in funding to the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (SoBRO) to deliver strategic business consulting and deal-making services to eligible minority business enterprises (MBEs) under the MBDA Business Center program.

These primary objective of the funding is to help clients, eligible minority business, achieve higher levels of growth and competitiveness to promote job creation and retention. The primary performance drivers under this award are job creation and retention and the award of procurement/contract and financing transactions to MBEs.

“Few things are as important to local economic prosperity as small business creation and growth. This funding will help South Bronx minority businesses, which face unique challenges, have access to the services and knowledge they need to grow and succeed. With SoBRO’s help, they will be able to do so more effectively by helping create or retain more jobs and boost our local economy,” said Congressman Serrano. “I would note that this grant shows the great work that organizations like SoBRO are doing in the Bronx.  In fact, SoBRO is the only Minority Business Center in all of New York City, and one of only 39 such centers across the United States!”

Congressman Serrano Meets with CUNY DREAMERS

In early September, Congressman Serrano spent some time with DREAMERS from the CUNY system to discuss immigration and education policy.

“It was an honor spending time and speaking to a wonderful group of CUNY Dreamers. I stay committed to helping their cause.”

Serrano CUNY Dreamers