Bloomberg to Pass New Law to Keep NYC the Most "Immigrant-Friendly" City in the U.S.

Today Mayor Bloomberg will sign off on two hefty pieces of immigration legislation that will maintain New York's reputation as one of the most immigrant-friendly cities in the nation.

The two laws, which passed 40-7 in City Council at the end of February, are a reaction to Secure Communities, the highly controversial federal solution to immigration-enforcement that expanded to New York last May. Under that plan, the fingerprints of anybody passing through local or state jails are sent to the Department of Homeland Security and run through its database. If a match is found showing that a suspect is an illegal immigrant or is a non-citizen with a criminal record, a "detainer" will likely be issued, requesting that the police hold the person until he or she is handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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History in the Street: Leela Corman on Unterzakhn


I'm a highly self-conscious New Yorker -- arrived here four years ago and immediately started walking the city obsessively, tucking the map of it under my skin, tattooing the streets on my brain and in my muscle memory. I'm also a writer and a Yiddish-speaker, so when I got hold of Leela Corman's graphic novel, Unterzakhn (Yiddish for 'underthings'), I was electrified. The book is drawn in a cartoony, film-reel, black-and-white style, and it tells the story of Esther and Fayna, Jewish twin sisters growing up on the Yiddish-speaking Lower East Side of New York in 1909.

Over the course of the next two decades, the sisters engage in very different ways with the experience of being a woman in the city. Esther becomes first a prostitute and then an actress, while Fayna works in a health clinic; each of them deals closely with negotiations of language and home. The sisters are highly sympathetic characters, sexy and funny and sad and human -- both of their time and relatably modern, while Unterzakhn is very much of New York -- in language, in history -- without feeling dated or historical. I talked over email with Leela Corman -- who's also a visual artist and professional belly dancer -- about New York, storytelling, history, and performance.

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Animal Rights Activists Exploit "Illegals" in Central Park Horse-Carriage War


As we've chronicled, there is a war going on between the labor union that represents Central Park horse-carriage drivers and animal rights activists who think keeping horses in midtown Manhattan is dangerous and inhumane.

Now the activists are using illegal immigrants as PR ammo against the union.

The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages sent us an e-mail this morning with the subject line "Illegals in Horse Carriage Trade." In the e-mail, the group outlines how the union employs illegal immigrants, one of whom "foolishly lied about an animal activist, Roxanne Delgado, attacking him at the hack line."

The group says another "illegal" was picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers about six weeks prior. 

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Brooklyn Gets Federal Bucks to Combat Domestic Violence Against Immigrant Women

Categories: Immigrants, Women
The Brooklyn District Attorney's office will get $900,000 to beef up its program aimed at supporting domestically abused immigrant women.

The Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women awarded the grant to the borough in order to help Brooklyn better assist domestically abused women who face language and cultural barriers.

"This grant will help my office continue to break down the linguistic and cultural barriers that isolate domestic violence victims and protect their batterers," Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes said in a release. "I would like to thank [Sen. Chuck Schumer] for his work in securing this important funding."

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Arizona Pol: Middle Easterners Look Like Mexicans And Don't Belong Here "Legally Or Illegally"

This is Gabriela Saucedo Mercer. She's running for Congress in Arizona. She also thinks Middle Easterners look like Mexicans and she doesn't want them in the U.S.

Arizona is known for a few things: the Grand Canyon, its beautiful sunsets...and for having some of the dopiest, gun-loving, hillbilly politicians in the entire country.

Enter Arizona Congressional candidate Gabriela Saucedo Mercer, who said in a recent interview that A) Middle Easterners look like Mexicans, and B) she doesn't want them in the country "legally or illegally."

Even worse: there's video -- which you can see below.

Saucedo Mercer, a Hispanic immigrant who became a citizen in 1991, has the backing of the Tea Party and the state's foot-in-mouth governor, GED Jan Brewer.

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Maria Montealegre Evicted Today, a Lot of "Community," but Little Help

Steven Thrasher
Maria Montealegre, the tenant at 1985 Amsterdam Avenue who was assaulted by her landlord and evicted after helping organize neighbors, has been evicted today. A marshal showed up roughly around 4 this afternoon, leaving 95 percent of her, and her family's, belongings on the sidewalk.

A bevy of people from "community groups" -- mostly from the Mirabal Center -- came to a press conference outside her building. Despite the presence of many people in yellow Mirabal shirts, no one had a real plan in place, nor anywhere for Montealegre and her four kids to go tonight.

And though Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Councilmember Robert Jackson's offices seemed like they might get heavily involved in recent days, neither were there today.

In fact, almost everyone who has ever said they were trying to help Montealegre is doing little more than to wait for her to actually get evicted, put on the street, and to be put into the homeless-shelter system after she's actually homeless.

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Maria Montealegre, On Way To Becoming Legal Immigrant, Still Faces Homelessness

Arlene Gottfried
A week since we reported on Maria Montealegre, an undocumented immigrant who faces eviction for making complaints against one of the worst landlords in Manhattan, she might be well on her way to becoming a legal immigrant.

The Washington Heights resident, along with Andres Mares Muro (from the Mirabal Center) visited the Mexican Consulate and were told that Montealegre qualifies for a "U visa," which would make it easier for her and her family to get into a shelter.

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Neil Munro of The Daily Caller: Here's The Only Clean Audio Of What He Heckled At President Obama [EXCLUSIVE]

Steven Thrasher
Munro interrupting President Obama in the Rose Garden
After reading Megan Carpentier's Raw Story article about our experience in the White House Rose Garden standing next to Daily Caller heckler Neil Munro, we decided to go back and listen to the audio we were recording on our iPhone of the event, and compare it to other news outlets' audio.

Shockingly, it's cleaner than anything else we've found online -- clearer than the White House's audio or even NPR's (because, of course, their microphones were trained at President Obama and we happened to be next to Munro).

If you want to hear what Munro actually said (with his, ahem, immigrant Irish accent), take a listen. It's in three chunks, with brief silences between. The first segment is when Munro first jumps in, the second is when Obama answers him (and Munro tries to interrupt again), and the third is right after the president finishes his remarks and Munro yells out again.

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New York Assembly Passes Bill To Establish DREAM Fund For Undocumented Kids To Go To College

Good news, DREAMers: the New York State Assembly passed a bill yesterday that would create a privately funded scholarship to help undocumented kids go to college.

If it becomes law, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM, Fund Commission would enable people to solicit private contributions for college scholarships for illegal immigrants.

"For more than three centuries, immigrants have traveled to America - millions coming through New York - seeking nothing more than freedom and opportunity," Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says in a statement. "Their sweat, their blood and their sacrifice helped build our state and our nation. What we are proposing with our legislation is to give today's immigrant youth the same opportunity to work hard, to achieve and to make their own way, which are quintessential American values."

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Once Upon a Time in the Bronx: Theatre of the Oppressed Explores Violence, Family Life

Actors in Theatre of the Oppressed's upcoming production in the Bronx.
When directors with Theatre of the Oppressed NYC asked a group of teenage girls to strike a pose that they think represents the Bronx, most of them did the same thing: They chose images with weapons.

This is how artist Melanie Crean remembers a workshop with around ten teenage girls in the Bronx, who were then in the early stages of creating a play that they will perform in front of a live audience this coming week.

"[Violence] is a very real part of their lives that is not necessarily getting discussed and analyzed in schools or elsewhere," Crean told the Voice. "We're starting to...get people talking about problems, so we can start to think about solutions."

This is part of the unique process of Theatre of the Oppressed NYC, a nonprofit group on the rise that collaborates with organizations throughout the city to create original productions with communities that face some kind of oppression or discrimination.

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