Things That Matter

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

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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New York Attorney General Files Lawsuit To Dissolve The National Rifle Association

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New York Attorney General Files Lawsuit To Dissolve The National Rifle Association

Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images

The New York attorney general has filed a lawsuit to completely dissolve the National Rifle Association (NRA). The lawsuit is the latest in a series of events weakening the controversial organization since the Parkland shooting.

The NRA is facing a lawsuit because of its financial misdealings.

New York Attorney General Letitia James started a domino effect of lawsuits involving the NRA AG James is suing the organization because of its financial misdeeds focusing on corruption and misspending. The allegations, AG James claims, undermine the organization’s ability to claim to be a nonprofit.

AG James’ lawsuit is bringing attention to NRA’s Wayne LaPierre’s use of funds.

AG James’ lawsuit is pointing out various tax violations and is currently a civil case. However, the New York AG is not stopping there. If criminal issues are discovered, AG James will follow through.

“It’s an ongoing investigation,” she said during a press conference. “If we uncover any criminal activity, we will refer it to the Manhattan district attorney. At this point in time we’re moving forward, again, with civil enforcement.”

The NRA is denouncing the charges claiming they aren’t relevant.

AG James made investigating the NRA part of her campaign in 2018 and referred to the organization as a terrorist organization.

“The foreclosure crisis is not behind us, students debt is a major issue, health care is a challenge since they repealed the individual mandate, people are having a difficult time with premiums that have increased and are often times deciding to go without medicine because of the costs, resulting in premature death and gun violence,” AG James told Ebony Magazine during her campaign. “The NRA holds [itself] out as a charitable organization, but in fact, [it] really [is] a terrorist organization.”

Shortly after AG James filed her lawsuit, Washington’s attorney general followed suit.

AG Karl Racine is going after the NRA for misusing charitable funds. Essentially, the NRA is being accused in Washington of taking money meant for educational programs and spent them on themselves. The Washington lawsuit and New York lawsuit are honing in on the NRA’s years of fraudulent use of funds. It comes at a time when the NRA is already fighting for its life after the teenagers of Parkland launched a successful campaign in slowing and reversing the organization’s growth in the political sphere.

READ: Florida Passed Their First Gun Safety Measure In More Than 20 Years And The NRA Has Already Filed A Lawsuit

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Ritchie Torres Is Poised To Become The First Out Gay Afro-Latino In Congress After Primary Win

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Ritchie Torres Is Poised To Become The First Out Gay Afro-Latino In Congress After Primary Win

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Primary elections in New York this week ushered in new politicians poised to make history. One of those people is Ritchie Torres, an out Afro-Latino gay man who won his primary for New York’s 15th District.

Ritchie Torres won his primary challenge for the 15th congressional district of New York.

New York City Council Member Torres defeated Rúben Diaz Sr. last night. People are celebrating the victory because Torres, who is openly gay, was running against a very problematic reverend. Diaz, who is also a New York City council member, has billed himself as the opposite of AOC and holds a very conservative view on various social issues.

Diaz has voted against same-sex marriage and routinely speaks out against abortion. One time, according to CBS News, Diaz claimed that the city council was being run by the “homosexual community.”

The fight is not over for Torres.

The council member still has to make it through the November election. He will be running against Republican Orlando Molina in November. However, people are celebrating the historic vote that could put the first-ever openly gay Afro-Latino person into Congress.

New York’s 15th District is called the bluest district in America. That is why someone who supports Trump, opposes abortion, and has a homophobic past leading the field was so shocking to many. The Pentecostal minister made headlines when he refused to resign from the city council after his comments about the “homosexual community.”

Praise and support for Torres came flooding in on social media from fellow Democrats across the country.

Torres’s victory over Diaz is a welcomes outcome for many in the Democratic party. Some feared what Diaz would do to the party when in office considering the clear opposition to Democratic causes, especially considering the hyper-partisan nature of the current Congress.

It was a truly historic night in politics thanks to the people running and the voters.

There were several seats last night that have started to better reflect communities in the district. African-American and Latino candidates won decisively in various districts leading to what could be a more diverse and progressive Congress.

Congratulations to all of the winners during yesterday’s primaries.

READ: AOC Wins Primary Election In New York In Run For A Second Term In Congress

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