Things That Matter

Catalina Cruz Might Become The First ‘Dreamer’ To Be Elected In New York. Here’s What You Need to Know

Untitled. Digital Image. The Cut. 18 August 2018.

Catalina Cruz was born and raised in Colombia until her mother brought her through JFK airport when she was just nine years old in hopes of a better life. Today, 35-year-old Cruz is running for an Assembly seat in Queens’ 39th District. She is the first “Dreamer” to run for office in New York State, and is relying on folks turning out for the September primary elections to put her in office to become the third Dreamer elected to the U.S. government.

Her story will inspire you, and hopefully it will blossom into real reform for neighborhoods like Elmhurst and Jackson Heights.

First thing’s first: Catalina Cruz is running for a Democratic seat.

CREDIT: Catalina Cruz Campaign

When she arrived in the U.S., neither her, her mother, nor her three American-born siblings knew English. In order for her family to survive, her mother had to work odd jobs, like selling pastelitos, nannying and even passing out fliers for $40 a day.

Cruz is an attorney and community organizer.

CREDIT: Catalina Cruz Campaign

She lived undocumented for ten years, and finally got her citizenship in 2009. She started her career as a housing attorney, which meant she was taking on low-income clients who were fighting banks and gentrification for their own homes.

Ahe is the president of the Latino Lawyers Association of Queens County.

CREDIT: Catalina Cruz Campaign

She’s spent the last five years working to bring “Know Your Rights” presentations to underserved communities, and has been mentoring students in local law schools to understand law in the Spanish language.

Her issues are near and dear to Latino hearts.

CREDIT: @CatalinaCruzNY / TWITTER

In a Twitter post, Cruz wrote, “Research shows dual language students tend to perform as well as, or better, academically. We should expand dual language and bilingual programs to foster diversity and inclusion.”

One of her top priorities is public education reform.

CREDIT: Catalina Cruz Campaign

Cruz is running for one of the most diverse districts in the state, in the most overcrowded city. Along with expanding dual language programs in the school, Catalina wants to end annual standardized tests that are used to close schools, punish teachers, and give bonuses to principals. She wants to increase funding for STEM, programs and ensure food justice for all children by serving healthy and culturally affirming meals like halal, kosher, vegan, etc.

Shockingly, under state law, criminal charges can be brought against women who have abortions.

CREDIT: @CatalinaCruzNY / TWITTER

Not only does Cruz want to reverse that law, she always wants to help Roe v Wade to make reproductive rights affirmatively legal and safe.

Cruz is for single-payer health care reform.

CREDIT: Catalina Cruz Campaign

Latinos are the most under insured group in America with 1 in 4 Latinos living without health insurance. Finding a way to guarantee health as a human right will only further benefit our community.

Girl’s got a gay agenda. 🤩

CREDIT: Catalina Cruz Campaign

She calls it an “LGBT Agenda,” and we’re here for it. She wants to ban conversion therapy and pass a bill called GENDA (Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act) to include gender expression as a protected human right. She also wants to include LGBT history in schools’ curriculum, make sex education more inclusive and protect seniors seeking LGBT friendly social services.

Cruz wants airlines to fund parks, playgrounds and school upgrades to the communities they pollute.

CREDIT: Catalina Cruz Campaign

“Residents tell me everyday that airplane noise, traffic congestion, and pollution are on the rise in Corona, Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights,” Cruz says in a statement on her website. “I am running for the State Assembly to be an advocate for our community on the issues that most impact the lives of our children, seniors, and families. Communities that most experience the impact from airport operations should also experience more benefits. With the Airport Impact Fund, we have an opportunity to make this possible.”

With more than 90 percent of the 39th District being people of color, they’re even more at risk of being victim to our criminal justice system.

CREDIT: @CatalinaCruzNY / TWITTER

“We can create a truly more just system in New York,” Cruz says on her website. “As it exists, the entire criminal justice system targets poor communities of color from beginning to end. We can do much better.” Cruz wants to legalize marijuana and end the cash bail bond system, to start with.

A top issue for Cruz is fixing the housing crisis.

CREDIT: Catalina Cruz Campaign

With her legal experience in helping low-income families keep their homes, Cruz claims she can fix the problem. She wants to establish a state funded legal team to represent tenants, mandate that landlords renew rent controlled leases until the tenant decides to terminate and incentivizing developers to ensure rent remains affordable.

She is making it her mission to protect immigrants.

CREDIT: Catalina Cruz Campaign

Over 60 percent of residents in the 39th District are undocumented, which means that they can’t vote for Cruz. Cruz wants to implement a $100 million fund for immigrant legal services to ensure that families stay together.

She also wants to protect fingerprint information from federal agencies (i.e. ICE) by passing the NY State Liberty Act, and make driver’s licenses accessible to every resident, regardless of immigration status.

Cruz has a “Street Safety” plan.

CREDIT: @CatalinaCruzNY / TWITTER

“According to new research, Jackson Heights, Corona, and Elmhurst are among the most dangerous neighborhoods to pedal or walk through,” Cruz says on her website. “We must make street safety a top priority.”

Cruz wants to prevent pedestrian deaths by increasing penalties for drivers who hit-and-run and adding time to pedestrian walk signals.

One of her key issues is fixing the New York subway system, which has been failing.

CREDIT: Catalina Cruz Campaign

For the last 30 years, funding has decreased for the MTA, which has weakened the sole source of transportation for most working families in the community. She wants to break the MTA up into several different agencies that can more easily manage smaller systems, and to invest more in repairs.

The attorney turned politician is here por los viejos.

CREDIT: Catalina Cruz Campaign

She has a whole five point plan to keep seniors in their homes, pass legislation to combat age discrimination in the workplace, fund “culturally competent” senior programs (i.e. ones that create a niche community for the LGBT community, Spanish-speaking seniors, etc.), and upgrade senior taxi services to be more like Uber/Lyft.

She has been vocal about rejecting corporate and big pharma money.

CREDIT: @CatalinaCruzNY / TWITTER

She wants to unequivocally fight for a single payer health care system.

Cruz wants to inspire other people like her with her campaign for New York Assembly.

CREDIT: @AmplifyHerNYC / TWITTER

Granted, there are so, so many other candidates with beautiful stories, but we know without a doubt that Cruz will have Dreamers’ and Latinos’ backs.

So if you’re reading this, go do your own candidate research and vote.

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. The Cut. 18 August 2018.

The most important thing anyone can do is to to vote for themselves and for their community. Don’t forget that elections have consequences.


READ: Two Government Agencies Are Being Sued For Arresting Undocumented Spouses Of US Citizens Seeking Legal Status

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A Judge In NY Has To Decide If Unvaccinated Children Should Be Allowed In School Risking The Lives Of Other Children

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A Judge In NY Has To Decide If Unvaccinated Children Should Be Allowed In School Risking The Lives Of Other Children

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Just two months ago, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that mandates vaccination for children old enough to attend schools, and participate in education with other children, unless otherwise advised by a doctor. The legislation came after the spread of misinformation about vaccines caused a series of measles outbreaks in the spring. Scientific literature based on decades worth of data from tens of thousands of children has proven vaccination safe and effective for the public.

Attorney’s Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Michael Sussman filed a class action suit for about three dozen parents who claim that vaccinating their children goes against their faith. Wednesday, Albany courtrooms were packed with over 1,000 anti-vaxxers who wanted to hear how the judge would rule in a debate around religious freedom vs. public health.

The crowd of anti-vaxxers wore white in reference to the Argentine mothers who wore white as they protested their government’s brutal killings and disappearances of their liberal children.

Credit: @GwynneFitz / Twitter

The anti-vaxxers feel that the implication of the government forcing them to vaccine their children from measles is tantamount to the Argentine government killing or “disappearing” 30,000 young, leftist political activists from existence in the 1970s. 

In April 1977, 14 mothers, wearing images of their missing children’s faces around their neck, marched around the Presidential Palace in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. They took a stand against a violent government in a defiant act to demand justice for their children.

These New York parents also feel the law doesn’t allow enough time to find proper education for their children. 

Credit: @GwynneFitz / Twitter

The demonstrators told Gothamist reporters, Gwynne Hogan and Claire Lampen, that “the new law effectively disappeared their children from the school system.” If the religious exemptions aren’t upheld, their alternative would be to homeschool their children or move to a different state.

“[We’re] hoping that our kids are granted the right to go back to school. Our children have been kicked out,” Long Island mother Amy McBride, 41, told Gothamist. “We’ve all been meeting, trying to look at curriculums, understand how to make it work, what the regulations are, understanding what it takes to actually do that…Our beliefs are steadfast and sincere and true and we’re not going to cave.”

The lawyers in the case argued that legislators demonstrated “active hostility toward religion.”

Credit: @GwynneFitz / Twitter

“[These children] are going to have nowhere to go to school…They have no idea what they are going to do with these children,” Sussman said. New York State attorney Helena Lynch refuted that claim. “The actual legislative record is so clear that the motivation was public health,” Lynch said. “The right to religious expression does not encompass the right to place others in danger.”

Lynch also expressed that legislators aren’t targeting religious groups but are genuinely “skeptical” that those choosing not to vaccinate their kids were expressing personal beliefs rather than religious ones. The crux of the argument seems to rest on public health risk for allowing the religious exemption, especially when an approximate 26,000 children would be unvaccinated in New York schools.

The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Senator Brad Hoylman from Manhattan, specifically wanted to eliminate the religious exemption as the key reason for the recent spread of measles.

Credit: @GwynneFitz / Twitter

You have a First Amendment right to practice your own religion, but you do not have the right to endanger your children or worse other people’s children,” he told a press conference. Already, 14 percent of pre-school aged children in Williamsburg are estimated to be unvaccinated for religious reasons or otherwise. Another 28 percent in Rockland County were unvaccinated.

The anti-vaxxers expressed that they wished New York followed in California’s suit by allowing a year for the law to take effect. But public health advocates cite a sense of urgency for public safety measures, “This needs to be done, not tomorrow, not in a week, not in a month, and not in a year,” said one activist. “It must be done immediately, the numbers are gaining strength.”

Crowds packed even this overflow room as they waited for the judge’s answer.

Credit: @GwynneFitz / Twitter

They never heard it. Judge Hartman hasn’t made her decision yet about whether to allow 26,000 unvaccinated children go to New York schools in time for school start dates just three weeks from the hearing. The anti-vaxxers want her to put a stay on the state law which would allow those children to go to school while she continues to hear the case and make a final, permanent decision.

READ: A 12-Year-Old Mexican Boy Hilariously Trolled Anti-Vaxxers In This Viral Video

A New York Family Is Coming Together To Support The Father After Forgetting His Twins In His Car When At Work

Things That Matter

A New York Family Is Coming Together To Support The Father After Forgetting His Twins In His Car When At Work

Eyewitness News ABC7NY / YouTube

A family is grieving an unimaginable tragedy. Father Juan Rodriguez accidentally left his 1-year-old twins, Luna and Pheonix Rodriguez, in his car when he arrived to work. Eight hours later, Juan went back to his car to drive home when he had the realization that his twins had been strapped in their car seats the entire day. A community has come together to help the grieving family.

Iraq veteran and social worker for the VA is facing charges for leaving his twins in his car when he went to work.

Credit: Facebook

Juan works as a social worker for the James J. Peters VA Hospital in the Bronx. On Friday, July 23, the father of the twins, who had just turned 1, went to work and forgot to leave his children at daycare. Juan then worked a full day and it wasn’t until he was back in his car and already driving when he realized that his children were still strapped into their car seats in the back seat.

Witnesses say they saw Juan stepping out of his car crying and screaming for help.

Credit: Eyewitness News ABC7NY / YouTube

“He’s screaming and he gets on the phone and is like, ‘Oh my god, my kids died. Oh my God, my kids died,” one witness told local news. “He was very very very sad.”

Authorities have paused on an indictment leading some to believe the original charges will be reduced or dropped.

Credit: CBS New York / Twitter

“We are speaking to the district attorney’s office to convey to them, what I think that they know and understand, that this was a horrific and terrible tragedy,” Rodriguez’s Attorney Joey Jackson told the press. “Obviously, my client, Mr. Rodriguez, his wife, his mom, his dad, his beautiful family, his 16-year-old, his 12-year-old, his 4-year-old, they’re completely crushed by this incident.”

Jackson confirmed that Juan will be back in court on Aug. 27 to see if the grand jury has found enough evidence to indict Juan for the death of his children.

Strangers are coming together to raise money for the families legal and funeral costs linked to the tragedy.

Credit: Eyewitness News ABC7NY / YouTube

“Juan Rodriguez is a loving father and a dedicated husband, with a relentless drive to improve the lives of his family and community. A disabled veteran, as well as a social worker for the VA Hospital in the Bronx; he has first-hand knowledge of how traumatic experiences can impact lives” reads the GoFundMe set up for the family. “He has helped countless veterans with their daily lives and has served as a liaison between veterans, and outside agencies that work closely with the VA hospital. He has dedicated his life to public service, positively affecting thousands of lives. Juan is an honest and hard-working man. A man who now has to deal with the same type of traumatic loss that he has helped others cope with in the past.”

The GoFundMe has raised more than $89,000 so far.

Credit: GoFundMe

“This incident was a heartbreaking accident that has impacted the entire family. We are asking for your support, to help them get through this horrible and dark moment, and to find peace during this nightmare,” reads the GoFundMe account. “The family seeks to mourn together and be reunited, while they begin to tackle the impossible task of going on with their lives. We are asking for community support, in the same manner that Juan and Marissa have supported this community, while they cope with this tragedy.”

The family is standing behind Juan as he battles in the courts.

Credit: Facebook

“Though I am hurting more than I ever imagined possible, I still love my husband,” Marissa Rodriguez, his wife, said in a statement on Sunday. “This was a horrific accident, and I need him by my side to go through this together.”

Funeral services for the twins are being held on Friday, August 2, less than one month after the twins celebrated their first birthday.

READ: Authorities Are Investigating The Tragic Death Of A Couple In Front Of Their Son While On Vacation In Guerrero

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