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Street Vendors March for Industry Reform Law

Plus: Immigration advocates support clemency justice act, and others fight for a health plan for immigrant essential workers

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On Thursday, street vendors from across New York City will march alongside elected officials, immigrant rights groups, and other allied organizations from Herald Square to Times Square. They are pushing for systemic reform of their industry, the right to legalize their businesses and relief from heavy fines through the passage of the state bills S1175A / A5081. The march is taking place a year after a law was passed to lift a cap on street vending permits. In spite of the success of that legislation, street vendors still face challenges in obtaining the business licensing needed to legalize their work and are issued heavy fines as high as $1,000 — often totaling their entire weekly earnings — for lack of licensing.

In other local immigration news…

EWF beneficiaries lose hard-fought funds to credit card skimming

📍Documented Original
Ingrid was the first member of our WhatsApp community to tell us she lost over $6,000 of the grant she received from the Excluded Workers Fund via a fraudulent transaction. We put out a call for similar stories and got responses from more than ten people the same day. So far, 70 Excluded Workers Fund recipients have reported their funds being stolen through a fraudulent transaction. We reviewed complaints and police reports and were able to verify that nine people from our WhatsApp community had collectively lost $29,000.

Some people who disputed the unauthorized transactions have received their money back, while others are still waiting. Just yesterday, Elizabeth, 34, got her account credited with the money she disputed 38 days ago. But two days ago, Armando Isidoro, 52, called us concerning a claim of over $3,800 in unauthorized transactions, which we investigated. He lost his job following an injury during the pandemic and used the fund to cover his rent and other expenses, but it is now gone. 

Documented reports these incidents highlight how the state government’s strategy of distributing financial aid through prepaid debit cards is highly vulnerable to theft.

Immigration Advocates Hold Press Conference on Clemency Justice Act

On Tuesday, a coalition of immigration advocates held a press conference on the Clemency Justice Act (S7667), which was introduced and referred to the New York state Senate Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction earlier this year. In a statement, advocates from the Clemency Coalition of New York said the bill, if passed, would make the clemency process “more transparent, accessible, and accountable as deportations and incarcerations continue to threaten New York’s immigrants and communities of color.” Between 2017-2020, 1.5% of all submitted clemency applications were granted in New York State, according to the coalition. For many immigrants with criminal convictions, a pardon can give them the opportunity to stay in the United States and avoid deportation.

New Campaign Pushes for Health Plan for Immigrant Essential Workers

The New York Immigration Coalition launched a video campaign to push Gov. Kathy Hochul and legislators to expand New York’s essential health plan to every resident regardless of immigration status. The bill, known as #Coverage4All (A880/S1572), would create a state-funded essential plan for all New Yorkers, including immigrants at the federal poverty level who are currently excluded. They currently only have access to Medicaid during pregnancy, as well as emergency Medicaid, which only covers care for an urgent medical condition with no follow-ups. So far, New York state Assembly member Karines Reyes (D-Bronx) said she will vote in favor of the bill. 

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