politics

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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Here’s Why AOC Called Her Address At Bronx’s Pride “The Most BX” Speech She Ever Gave

Things That Matter

Here’s Why AOC Called Her Address At Bronx’s Pride “The Most BX” Speech She Ever Gave

Twitter / @_SanchezSabrina

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) made an appearance at Bronx Pride 2019 on Sunday, where she gave an air horn-accompanied address that she called “The most BX pride speech I ever gave.”

As the Puerto Rican congressional freshman, who hails from the borough, shouted LGBTQ  policy points she has advocated for in her five months in elected office, spectators blasted “bwa-bwa-bwa-bwaaah” air horns, a familiar sound to the community that birthed hip-hop.

“They really cued up the horns for our policy points. There’s no place like home,” she later tweeted alongside a couple laughing-crying emojis.

During her short talk, AOC touched on what Pride, a time to commeorate the trans women of color-led Stone Wall riots that birthed the gay rights movement and led to the LGBTQ battles and wins of today, means.

“Pride is about honoring the community workers, the people who work in the clinics, the community organizers, the people who work with LGBTQ youth, the people who are fighting to make sure that it’s not just about marriage equality, but quality of life for all people in the community,” she said.

The congresswoman also highlighted some of the biggest issues impacting queer communities at the moment.

“What does the LGBTQ fight mean in a post-marriage-equality world? Here’s what it means: It’s making PrEP free for all people,” she said, as an air horn blasted. 

In Congress, Ocasio-Cortez has led the fight for affordable PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), which could decrease the spreading of HIV during sexual intercourse, criticizing the CEO of Gilead, the pharmaceutical company behind the PrEP drug Truvada, in May during a congressional hearing over the high cost of the drug.

“It means tackling the homelessness crisis among our LGBTQ youth,” she continued, with the sound of another “bwa-bwa-bwa-bwaaah” following. 

“It means decarcerating our society so that no trans woman and no person ever dies again in custody,” she said, alluding to the death of transgender Afro-Latina Layleen Polanco earlier this month in New York’s Rikers Island, as another round of air horns exploded. 

“It means no one is denied a job because of their gender identity, no matter what it is,” she said to a final blast.

Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t the only elected official at Bronx Pride. State Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Senator Chuck Schumer were also in attendance, supporting and taking photos with those who participated in the parade.

Since taking office, the young congresswoman has made issues confronting the LGBTQ community a top priortity.

Read: Historians And AOC Agree That Detention Centers Look Like Concentration Camps But Conservatives Don’t Want To Hear It

She Fled El Salvador With Her Father To Escape The Civil War, Now She Is Running To Be A Judge In Texas

Things That Matter

She Fled El Salvador With Her Father To Escape The Civil War, Now She Is Running To Be A Judge In Texas

Selena-for-Judge / Facebook

If last year’s midterm primaries taught us anything, it was that everyone, regardless of their background or story, has a right to run for office. Furthermore, first-time politicians who want to help the marginalized community are encouraged to run, and we now have proof they can win.

Meet Selena Alvarenga, a gay immigrant of El Salvador, that is seeking to run for District Court Judge in Texas.

Facebook/Selena-for-Judge

Alvarenga’s campaign for judge of Travis County’s 460th District Court is steaming rolling right along as they prepare for an election. While this new seat has never been conquered, the election will be an exciting one to watch. It won’t take place until March 2020, but there’s no better time to jump into campaign mode.

She understands that her background isn’t a typical one, but that’s what makes her a perfect candidate to fight for people’s rights.

Credit: @selenaforjudge / Twitter

Her history as a lawyer spans two decades, and she’s an alum of St. Mary’s Law School in San Antonio.

Alvarenga migrated to the U.S. with her father in the 1970s after they fled the Salvadoran Civil War.

Facebook/Selena-for-Judge

“One day, I literally woke up, and my father said everything was packed. He said it was getting too dangerous and we had to leave. We got in the car and we started driving north,” Alvarenga said in an interview with Popsugar.

According to her website, her father worked as a computer programmer at a bank in El Salvador but in the U.S. he could only get work serving fast food. “When he finally did find a job in his field, it was in Alaska. Selena was one of three Latin American immigrants in her class.”

“I didn’t know any English, so I went to [an English as a second language] school,” she said to the publication. That adversity only helped Alvarenga excel in school.

Some of the issues she’s ready to address in her campaign include LGBTQ+ rights and ending cash bail.

Facebook/Selena-for-Judge

Her background includes serving as a current Board Member of the Austin Bar LGBTQ Association. She also seeks to reduce pretrial detention and explore alternatives to cash bail.

Click here to learn more about Selena and her campaign.

READ: These Latinx Queer Organizations Need Your Money More Than You Need Corporate Rainbow Socks

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