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NEW YORK NEW YORK: Call for a better deal in the diaspora

Tony Best

NEW YORK NEW YORK: Call for a better deal in the diaspora

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It’s the kind of story that would catch the eyes of Bajans and other West Indians in New York.
Any tale about the plight of immigrants, jobs, housing scams, remittances, citizenship and fake nursing schools handing out bogus diplomas to West Indians wouldn’t be ignored.
So when David Paterson, until recently the Governor of New York, spoke up about the need to give West Indians a better deal, his observations struck a responsive chord.
Paterson, the grandson of West Indians – a Jamaican and a Grenadian – believes there is an urgent need for action when it comes to remitting money to their families.
“We need to make it a bit easier for those who are temporary in New York to send money back, people who come here to work and remit funds to the Caribbean countries and to their relatives,” he told the WEEKEND?NATION.
“There is a need to make that process a little easier. There is also a need to recognize that their ability to travel back to the Caribbean to deal with their families should also be made easier.
“We need to understand that true security doesn’t mean you harass everybody. It means that you identify those persons who are risks. We have people who have been travelling back and forth for years, who don’t pose any danger but who have been frequently harassed, frisked and investigated while many of those who are really threats to New York and our way of life are not being” subjected to that treatment.
But what about comprehensive immigration reform that would address the thorny question of millions of illegal immigrants?
The former Governor, the first Black person to serve as the state’s chief executive, doesn’t think substantial changes to immigration laws would be made before the next presidential and congressional elections in 2012.
“I think we are too close to the next election,” Paterson insisted. “If we were going to do something about immigration reform, which I would like to see, we should have done it right after the 2008 election and the new session of Congress in 2009. I don’t see any way they can pass it in an election year.
“It’s clear, they would never pass it in the House of Representatives and the Senate at this time and so my feeling is that comprehensive immigration reform was an issue we should have attacked in 2009, right off the bat. When you have a surge, you should take total advantage of it and in that period when everybody was of that spirit, with a new president in office, that was the time to do it. If you didn’t do it then, there is no other time you are going to get it done.”
Paterson’s sentiment was shared by United States Congressman Gregory Meeks, a Democrat of Queens, who has thousands of West Indians as constituents. He said the Republicans and the Tea Party lawmakers on Capitol Hill who now constitute the majority in House, would do everything in their political power to block the passage of immigration reform.
“The truth of the matter is that issue wouldn’t be resolved until after 2012,” Meeks argued.