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Immigration, Prison Reform Advocates Launch Early Debate Rallies

Demonstrators bring issues to Hofstra campus, the site of Tuesday's Presidential Debate.

Immigration reform, mass incarcerations and gun violence are among the issues that have not garnered enough attention during the 2012 Presidential campaigns so far, according to advocates who spoke at Hofstra University Monday.

One day before the Long Island campus plays host to the second debate between President Barack Obama and GOP Candidate Mitt Romney, lobbyists rallied at Hofstra in hopes of putting these issues in the spotlight.

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, who represents New York's 12th Congressional District, held an impromptu press conference outside Hofstra's Student Center Monday afternoon to address the lack of focus on immigration policies and remind voters, Latinos especially, where both candidates stand on the issue.

"It amazes me and it pains me that up to this day, the Presidential Commission has not dealt with one issue that is so important to millions of people who live in this country ... immigration. It has been totally invisible and absent," Rep. Velazquez said.

Summing up both candidates’ positions, Velazquez said, “Mitt Romney has taken the most extremist conservative positions expressed by any modern presidential candidate.”

Velazquez said Romney has gone on record stating that he would veto the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, a bill that provides conditional permanent residency to certain undocumented residents, revoke deferred deportation and advocate for self-deportation “with total disregard for the fact that he will keep families apart.” She also said comments Romney made in the notorious leaked tape from a private fundraiser showed a “lack of empathy and insensitivity to the Latino community.”

On the other hand, she said, “President Obama has supported comprehensive immigration reform.” Velazquez explained that after the DREAM Act failed in the Senate due to lack of Republican support, Obama issued an executive order providing for deferred deportation "helping many [undocumented] students … go to college, get support and be able to become productive citizens of our society."

Velazquez was joined by some of these students at Hofstra Monday, including Cesar Vargas, 29, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who now lives in Staten Island.

"Immigration should be a major issue in the debate,” said Vargas, who immigrated to the United States when he was 5. “It affects our life and our families. Romney has taken an extreme position on this and the Latino community is watching very closely. Half my family are citizens and will be voting for the first time.”

Vargas recently graduated from CUNY Law School and is applying for the bar, while also seeking a deportation deferment.

“When I go out of state, people tell me I am a New Yorker because of my accent. That's who I am,” Vargas says. “To be an American doesn’t mean you look a certain way. It's about ideals. This is my country.”

Outside Hofstra’s campus, Rev. Johnny Ray Youngblood and a group of young African-American boys from Brooklyn spent Monday advocating against gun violence, mass incarcerations and re-entry along Hempstead Turnpike.

“Re-entry is the return of people who are victims of what I call the Draconian Rockefeller laws, three strikes and you’re out,” Youngblood told Patch. “They are now coming back to our communities, returning in Brooklyn at a rate of 3,000 a year, and there is no housing, no education and no jobs ... What tends to happen is they wind up being re-incarcerated and we want to address that.”

Rev. Youngblood is also fighting for reforms to "revenue-generating" laws that he says lead to the “criminalization” of people, senior citizens included, who fail to respond to summonses for benign offenses such as public urination, curbing their pets and open containers.

“We have people as old as 92 with those C-summons charges,” he said. “It starts out as a summons, but if you don’t honor it, it becomes a warrant … and you [can then be] arrested, handcuffed, put in a police car and spend one night in jail.”

To find out more about his group's work visit prisonreform.nationbuilder.com.

Mo Neill October 17, 2012 at 04:09 AM
Karl, Were I come from, Irish kids come here for summer work in droves. They have been doing so for 40 yrs without one iota of complaint. This anti-immigrant hysteria is really anti-Latino, as we all know.
Mo Neill October 17, 2012 at 04:14 AM
Get out of the Sewer! You should read about our nation's history. This is a stupid slander as immigrants out of status are not treated as terrorist because not one, NOT ONE, has been arrested as a terrorist. This is a canard that has no legs.
Mo Neill October 17, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Donna, more anti-Latino hysteria is hardly a comfortable response
Mo Neill October 17, 2012 at 04:22 AM
Underdog, You're plainly wrong. Both France and Spain have regions where languages other than French or Spanish. & there are hundreds of countries where multiple languages are spoken.
Mo Neill October 17, 2012 at 04:27 AM
as if robkoz would ever even recognize balls, he is such a knotty head comformist who has not had one original thought. He can regurgitate the spew of Tea Partiers
Mo Neill October 17, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Hadley, you could use them as nourishing protein to feed school children. You, dreary, are a bright one.
Mo Neill October 17, 2012 at 04:33 AM
and waaaaay more than you will ever know
Mo Neill October 17, 2012 at 04:37 AM
oh yeah, playing the system by washing the dishes, mowing lawns, painting houses, cleaning home, baby sitting, living in fear, being exploited. Ha, these are the nasty rich who really bleed the system? You are the greater fool Mels to go after immigrants, instead of the ones who rake in the money.
Mo Neill October 17, 2012 at 04:41 AM
robkoz,It's a card you play everyday on these forums. You scare nobody but yourself, however repetitious and boring.
Mo Neill October 17, 2012 at 04:45 AM
because, forward thinking, the police think you look & sound like a foreigner.
Mo Neill October 17, 2012 at 04:50 AM
That's why so many millionaires & billionaires are renouncing their citizenship, just so they don't have to pay any taxes. 14% tax rate is not enough for these true blue patriotic Americans are moving to the Carribbean. They can still visit when they need to go to Nieman Marcus or have a little nip tuck at.the Menniger Clinic.
Mo Neill October 17, 2012 at 04:57 AM
yeah mels, all those retirees, soldiers, children, students, hospitalized, handicapped who live on the dole, on the free dole as you call it. What idiocy! What lazy, selfish people they are too, to become one of the "entitlement folk." Stop yr whining already, you don't have it half badly.
Mo Neill October 17, 2012 at 05:00 AM
Mels, & we all thought you were blind & unlearned.
Mo Neill October 17, 2012 at 05:01 AM
now that would be nice of you Tom. I think you should keep paying
Argile October 17, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Wow mo neil, you're saying 20+ illegal immigrants all work on farms? That's one big farm.... Even if you say they work as landscapers you're still not accounting for the other 19 million. FAIL. Bigtime.
Argile October 17, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Mo neil people like you are the reason for this countries problems. Don't have the spine to weed out the abusers from the ones the contribute. And this is coming form a registered Democrat. Your insults FAIL pathetically.
Argile October 17, 2012 at 02:27 PM
And yet their isn't a town infested with illegals that cannot survive without taxpayer assistance. But if you want to live in denial that's your choice. The facts suck don't they? And the best you have for me is insults. Your a joke.
Argile October 17, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Mo Neil comes here with insults and not a shred of evidence of how illegals benefit this country. A typical progressive liberal if I ever saw one.
Underdog October 17, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Mo - Of course the country needs immigrants, America was built on the contributions of immigrants, but you're failing to recognize the difference between the words "immigrants" and "illegals" (meaning illegal immigrants). Every nation has specific rules and guidelines that govern immigration into their country; we do an injustice to ourselves, to our history, and to all those immigrants that have followed the process to become legal residents, if not actual naturalized citizens of the United States.
Underdog October 17, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Mo, and don't all of those "Irish kids" have work visas that specify the what, when, and where of their employment? All anybody is asking is that the rules be followed. It's not "anti-immigrant hysteria", it's an anti-illegal concern.
Underdog October 17, 2012 at 03:24 PM
"Once again, the communication process has broken down between us." (from 'My Cousin Vinny') Mo, please re-read my posts... all of the words, not every other one - or whatever is causing you to misinterpret what I said. You'll see that I acknowledge that many countries often have regions where languages other than the official, national language is spoken. By a country declaring a "national language" it doesn't mean that it becomes illegal to speak anything other than that language, it simply means that official Government, legal, and business correspondence is conducted in that language. http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0855611.html You'll see that the vast majority (about 70%) of countries have a designated "official" language.
Mels Ditties October 17, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Mo Neill....Did you READ my post (or just wanted to pounce and attack someone?)...I CLEARLY said "NOT ALL"....In our immediate area there are many many many "entitlement folk" who are able bodied, able minded people who got themselves on the gov dole (as you put it) and even tho' they are capable of working for a living, they have absolutely no will/desire to ever live any other way...AND top that with the fact that they become so "entitled" they begin to believe that they should be given everything for free.,.,.Once again, in case you misread this post as well, I am talking about able bodied / able minded (not vets, not widows/widowers, disabled, etc. etc) folk...
Argile October 17, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Mo neil has no intentions on interpreting your post, only picking and insulting the points that this person disagrees with. Today's immigrants/Americans are a pale shadow of what made this country great and entitlements are the reason for this country's regression, not progression. Instead of lending a hand people now hold out their hand and demand someone fill it.
g judson October 17, 2012 at 04:02 PM
press 1 for spanish 2 for english whats wrong with this
Mels Ditties October 17, 2012 at 04:15 PM
robkoz...I would have to agree that we are all a pale shadow of our ancestors....They just don't "make 'em" as tough and rough and hard working as they used to.... BUT, I also see many hardworkers just beaten down by economics...working day in and day out...more jobs, more hours, and just not getting ahead...Tired of paying into a system that it appears will not be there when it is time for them to get their share (monies that they paid in for years & years)....Sometimes it just seems so much easier to give up and jump on the entitlement band wagon.... There are valid statistics that show many of the unemployed (victims of a recession, unable to obtain jobs) who's unemployment benefits ran out then applied for (and received) disability benefits...Many of these people are also the newest recipients of food stamps, hence a large part of the reason for the increase in food stamp rolls...
North Fork Bob October 17, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Hey Mo VA care has always been awful.Iraq war was started by a lie.Iraq Vets are really hurting,many from depleted uranium,same with Iraq civilians.Obama inherited this whole mess from Bush/Cheney who may be charged with war crimes.Desmond Tutu says they should be charged.The 11 Billion Dollar VA reduction will be felt by every Vet.
Ralebird October 18, 2012 at 02:48 AM
All of them dog? No. Long Island and New York have tens of thousands who are here by overstaying visas, by coming here through Canada in the dark of night, by getting duplicate documentation in Gaelic names after their english names have been blacklisted.
Concerned Mom October 23, 2012 at 04:58 PM
I am a mother of a son who had a heart transplant 6 years ago. I sat in a hospital for 9 weeks before we recieved a blessing from someone and able to bring our son home. I am still paying bills from that and from the many check ups and medication he will need to take for the rest of his life. Do you now how frustrating it was to sit there and watch all these illgal immigrants get free care and medical for their children. I am only first generation American Italian in this country. My parents came here legally have worked all their lives and pay taxes. They became American Citizens and learned to read, write and speak the language. And yet the illegals get free hospital care, medication, and an education that my parents and I cannot afford our children. Close the borders come here the right way and earn respect. As a Citizen born here how did my husband, children and I get less then those who do not belong here. I am sorry but if I had some of my taxes back for all the freebies maybe I can afford my sons medical bills that are not covered by insurance instead of having to sell my home.
Mr-Chernomyrdin-Esq October 28, 2012 at 10:01 AM
Ten more days; vote wisely. I hope all works out for your son and family.
Argile October 28, 2012 at 10:57 AM
You and your family are what's right with America. Your parent's weren't cowards looking for freebies unlike the millions of others who choose to sneak in through the back door on their own free will. I see the abuse you are talking about in my hospital all the time. I blame the politicians that we elected. They are supposed to protect Americans from abuse like this. Instead they promote it for votes and cheap labor. Tim Bishop voted in favor of hospitals not reporting illegals that abuse the healthcare system. So basically not only are you paying for your sons medical bills, you are paying for the illegals as well. "Voted NO on reporting illegal aliens who receive hospital treatment. (May 2004)" http://www.ontheissues.org/NY/Timothy_Bishop.htm

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