Congressman José E. Serrano

Representing the 15th District of New York

The Serrano Report - Volume XVI, Issue #33

Apr 18, 2018
The Serrano Report

In Washington, DC


Congressman Serrano Continues to Actively Denounce Citizenship Question in 2020 Census

Congressman Serrano, Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee, which funds the U.S. Census Bureau criticized the Commerce Department’s decision to include a question about citizenship status in the 2020 Census.  

Congressman Serrano has been instrumental in securing adequate levels of funding for the upcoming Census and sees the decision to include a citizenship question as an obstacle to accurately count everyone in the country and adequately allocate federal resources.  

This week Congressman Serrano joined his colleagues from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to speak out on the issue:

“The Trump Administration is doing everything it can to undermine the 2020 Census and Hispanics’ participation in it,” said Congressman Serrano. “The inclusion of a citizenship question is unnecessary, unsupported, and a clear attack on immigrant and other minority communities that already live in fear under the Trump Administration.

“First, this question is uncalled for because this information is already collected via the American Community Survey Act every year—not only every ten years with the Census—and is completely unnecessary for the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act as the Administration claims. No court in the country has said that the current information collected by the Community Survey is insufficient or inaccurate. When the Department of Justice sent a letter requesting the citizenship question, it did not come from the Civil Rights Division, the department that oversees enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. It came from the Justice Management Division, which oversees administrative and employment issues within DOJ.

“Furthermore, no civil rights group, voting rights group, or advocacy group has asked for this change. Clearly, motivations other than the protection and enforcement of the Voting Rights Act were at play in this request, otherwise this request would have come directly from the Civil Rights Division itself.

“In addition to being an unfounded decision, perhaps more alarming is the fact that it has not been tested, contemplated, or put forward previously as a potential subject. While we know this reckless decision will undermine the count, raise costs (since fewer people will respond initially- thus requiring more in-person visits), and have a detrimental effect on the distribution of formula funding, we don’t know by how much.

“What we do know—and the Trump Administration knows very well—is that the minority and immigrant communities will be less likely to participate in the Census as a result of including this question, thereby driving down their numbers in key localities, limiting access to important funding, and having an enormous impact on the redistricting process. There is already not much trust in the Trump Administration.  Its harsh rhetoric and support for unconstitutional immigration law enforcement practices have already forced countless families to live under fear and alarm on a regular basis. Now they are less likely to participate in the Census with the inclusion of this question. This decision will shatter trust in the Census and lead to fears that the information collected will be used against people who fill it out.

“That is why I plan to introduce an amendment in the Appropriations Committee this year to prevent funds from being used to include such a question on the 2020 Census or to print the decennial Census with a citizenship question included. The Census needs to remain a nonpartisan instrument to gain an accurate count and understanding of American society every ten years. We cannot allow it to become a mechanism to inflict fear and harm on specific populations solely because it is politically convenient. The stakes are too high for everyone in this country, not just for those who will be directly impacted by this reckless decision.” 

(4.12.18) Rep. Barragan, Rep. Correa, Rep. Velazquez, Rep. Soto, Rep. Serrano, Rep. Kihuen, Rep. Gomez, Rep. Castro, Rep. Napolitano at the Conngressional Hispanic Caucus Presser on the 2020 Census

Congressman Serrano Leads Letter with Congresswoman Velazquez and Senator Gillibrand Urging the Education Department to Revise Burdensome Disaster Funding Application Process

Congressman Serrano led a bi-partisan, bi-cameral letter with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos urging critical revisions to the proposed process for institutions of higher education (IHE’s) in areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma to access disaster relief funding appropriated to the Department. Recently the U.S. Department of Education issued a notice in the Federal Register requiring IHE’s to complete an overly burdensome application process in order to access millions in critical funding passed by Congress nearly seven weeks ago. 

According to some estimates, the process could take up to 40 hours to complete. The Department also did not make the forms available in Spanish, the predominant language spoken in Puerto Rico, as it had previously done. In addition, members expressed deep concerns about the pre-application criteria requiring institutions to provide exact funding amounts received and reimbursed in order to determine how to allocate funding. Given the federal government’s slow dispersal of funds in continuing recovery efforts, this would further disadvantage IHE’s in Puerto Rico.

“Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other areas are still in crisis after Hurricanes Maria and Irma. This Administration should be making it easier for interested parties to access federal assistance, not putting unnecessary obstacles in their way.  Massive amounts of paperwork that can take up to 40 hours to complete in an environment where many education institutions and people on the island still don’t have access to electricity and safe drinking water is complete nonsense. Perhaps more baffling is the fact that this amount of requirement is unprecedented and unjustified. These are funds approved by Congress for one specific reason, helping the people of Puerto Rico and other territories in a time of dire need. The Department should immediately revise these policies and, while at it, look into what type of policies it can implement to help institutions access and use these funds as quickly as possible.” Said Congressman Serrano.

Read the full letter here.

Congressman Serrano Helps Secure Funding to Improve Services for Crime Victims

Congressman Serrano helped secure more than $20.4 million dollars in funding to improve services for crime victims in New York City. Through this funding, the Bronx will receive over $600,000 to hire case managers who will streamline and improve services for crime victims and their families. The grants are funded through the federal Victims of Crime Act and state Criminal Justice Improvement Account, these grants allow victim assistance programs to hire or contract with professionals who can coordinate services for victims and/or their families. The programs provide direct services to help men, women and children, including counseling, crisis intervention and legal assistance. Case managers will provide individuals with a continuous point of contact, through which they can navigate and apply for assistance and obtain other resources.

"We need to do more to not only reduce the incidence of crime in our state, but also to help victims immediately following crime incidents. This critical funding will help first responders, hospitals and government agencies improve their security, counseling, and health care services in New York City and throughout the rest of the state. As a member of the Appropriations committee that helped secure this funding, I'm glad to see the positive impact it is already having on our state." Said Congressman Serrano.

Congressman Serrano Questions National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator on their FY2019 Budget Request

Congressman Serrano questioned RDML Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D., USN Ret., the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere Department of Commerce during the Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science Hearing on NOAA. Congressman Serrano has been a longtime supporter of NOAA and the services it provides to our nation and he discussed their research projects, the effects of the hurricane season on their work, as well their efforts to engage minority communities. Watch his full line of questioning by clicking on the picture below:

Video

Congressman Serrano Questions NASA on their FY2019 Budget Request

Congressman Serrano questioned NASA Acting Administrator, Robert Lightfoot, on NASA's FY2019 Budget request during the Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science Hearing. Congressman Serrano has been a strong supporter of NASA’s work throughout the years and worked with the agency to bring Astronaut Lee Morin to the Bronx this past year.  

To listen to the Congressman’s full line of questioning click on the image below:

Video