How Democratic State Senate Candidates in the 22nd Stack Up on Immigration

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Yesterday, the Gounardes campaign for State Senate released its immigration platform, “Welcoming New Americans,” which sets forth policies that are similar to opponent Ross Barkan’s, but perhaps a bit less progressive, a bit less concrete.

Running in the Democratic Primary in Southern Brooklyn’s 22nd Senate District, Andrew Gounardes hopes to challenge incumbent Republican Marty Golden this fall after facing Ross Barkan in the primary. The 22nd District covers parts of Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, Gravesend, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Gerritsen Beach and Marine Park.

The two campaigns have gone back and forth with their agendas—Barkan released his immigration platform earlier this month—and while the two share many liberal priorities, their views on immigration reveal a distinct split in just how progressive they are.

Up front, both candidates support the passage of the Liberty Act, which would limit law enforcement’s ability to collect or share information about immigration status with other agencies.

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They also agree that keeping ICE out of New York courthouses is essential, but Ross Barkan goes further: he supports the calls to abolish ICE, calling the Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement agency the “a racist deportation arm of the government.”

While Gounardes also wants immigrants to feel safe and avail themselves of the justice system, he doesn’t take nearly as hard-line of a stance against ICE.

Support for the Immigrant Legal Defense Project appears in both platforms, but if Gounardes merely makes a general call for increased funding, Barkan has concrete numbers in mind: turning the $10 million investment into a $100 million budget item.

Similarly, where Gounardes wants to expand financial aid to offer in-state tuition to all students that attend New York high schools and are eligible to graduate. Both Barkan and Gounardes are calling for free tuition at SUNY and CUNY schools, and in Gounardes’ case, through a State Constritutional guarantee.

Much of Gounardes’ platform focuses on engaging with and expanding state programs that support recent immigrants in places Barkan’s doesn’t, however. He’d like to expand the number of opportunity centers run by the Office for New Americans, which help immigrants find jobs, and provide services like ESOL and citizenship classes.

Additionally, Gounardes wants to engage with Regional Economic Development Councils to “provide low-cost loans, workforce development, and opportunities for government contracting.”

Click here to read Andrew Gounardes’ immigration platform in full

Along with the announcement of his platform, Gounardes will be holding a bystander training session in Bay Ridge this Thursday in response to the Islamophobic rant caught on video on a bus between Bay Ridge and Staten Island earlier this month.

“Hate crimes are on the rise across the country, and sadly Southern Brooklyn is not immune, there have been multiple incidents of harassment or aggression in our neighborhood, as recently as this month. I’m proud to partner with the Accompany Project to provide a safe space for community members to learn how to be helpful in high-risk situations” said Gounardes in a statement. “Times are scary, and it’s incredibly important for all of us to better understand how we can successfully and safely disrupt a hostile or aggressive situation and stand up for our neighbors.”

The session is in conjunction with The Accompany Project, part of the Arab American Association of New York, and will take place on Thursday, July 26 from 7:00 – 9:00 pm at Cocoa Grinder, located at 8511 Third Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209.

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Paul Stremple

Paul was a staff reporter at Bklyner, responsible for covering Northern and Eastern parts of Brooklyn between August 2017 and January 2019.

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