A Conversation with Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, District 9, New York

A Conversation with Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, District 9, New York

Editorial credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com

By CAW Editorial Staff

New York politician and House of Representatives member for District 9, Yvette Clarke, is a Democratic member who strongly advocates for comprehensive immigration reform and policies that support immigrant communities. As the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, Congresswoman Clarke personally understands immigrants’ contributions to American society and the numerous struggles they confront.

Despite the contributions of many immigrants, the immigration system continues to work against them, forcing numerous immigrants to live in the shadows and be unable to contribute to society fully.

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke remains a strong advocate for several policies, including efforts to provide a pathway to obtaining citizenship for undocumented immigrants, the protection of Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and the reform of the detention system. Her work on immigration is based on her belief that America is a nation of immigrants. There is strength in diversity, and she has worked tirelessly to ensure that immigrant communities are woven into American society.

Speaking with our Editor-in-Chief, Pearl Phillip, in an exclusive interview, she shared her thoughts about current events, focusing on the root issues of people migrating to the United States, the resources needed to address the influx of asylum seekers, and the need for comprehensive immigration reform. 

Matters Arising: Two Southern Governors and Immigrants 

Recently, Congresswoman Clarke and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams had a joint press conference to address concerns about the number of immigrants transported from the southern border to New York City by Governor Abbott of Texas and Governor DeSantis of Florida. 

Reacting to the two famous governors’ intent, she explained that the New York congressional delegation has requested that the Biden administration use its discretion to send resources to NYC.

In addition, her office is pushing for an expedited process that enables immigrants to be authorized to work in the United States, allowing the immigrants to fend for themselves and their families while their cases are being adjudicated. She explained that her office is working with anyone seeking support with their immigration cases and has not received a lot of individuals coming across the border.

In response to the challenges faced by Haitian immigrants who have lost their lives crossing into the United States, Congresswoman Clarke explained that she has been in constant conversation with representatives of the Biden administration on immigration, who have recognized the changing immigration crisis and the need for a strategy.

“They recognize the crisis taking place and unfolding daily in Haiti right now without having a governance structure in place with the gangs roving the nation, extorting Haitians and Haitian Americans, and just making life unlivable for many Haitians.”

She acknowledged the pressure forcing many Haitians to undertake the treacherous trek across Central and South America to the United States to unite with family members.

Presently, under President Biden’s administration, a program called CBP One is in operation, described as a mobile process that allows people to seek asylum by setting up an appointment for their interview. The representative believes the program will not reduce people’s desire to leave their country. “But it is a pathway for those who can access the mobile app to make their way to the United States, “she explained.

Congresswoman Clarke believes that migrants own most small businesses and are needed within the community, hence her conviction for expedited work authorization.

Reaction to the Ending of Title 42 and the Introduction of Title 8

In Congresswoman Clarke’s view, Title 8 has always been in effect, dating back to the 1940s as part of the immigration law, albeit outdated. “We need a 21st-century immigration policy in the United States,” she said.  

Especially policies that can respond to the changing world, which calls for a robust asylum program for immigrants whose lives are threatened and who seek a better life in the country. Those already in the country and in-between status must be on a pathway to receiving green cards and citizenship, normalizing DACA recipients to remove anxiety and fear of deportation.

While Title 42 was an emergency provision under public health laws, it is no longer applicable now that the pandemic emergency has been lifted. Thus, Title 8 must be enforced with consideration: “The officials must utilize the provisions of this law to ensure that asylum seekers are given due process as is intended.”

Message to Immigrants 

The role and contributions of immigrants through labor must be considered. In celebration of their commitment, the Congresswoman acknowledged their effort by honoring their contribution to the country’s workforce across all levels—”everywhere from the city council to Congress to the Biden-Harris administration.” She also committed to fighting for the immigrant community and serving as a beacon of hope for immigrants worldwide. In her view, immigrants are worth fighting for, and such an opinion is what revitalizes the country.

“We see innovation continuing to flourish. We see our private sector being renewed because of young people with talent, skill, and expertise to ensure our companies are number one in the world,” she says.

Special Programs and Bills 

Among the numerous initiatives pursued by the Congresswoman is the Climate Change Research Act, which demands that the Department of Homeland Security assess the current federal resource research regarding any potential or identified effects of climate change on homeland security. 

Furthermore, letters are signed to improve the CBP One app, which she believes needs to be revised and more reliable. “The CBP One app has to be upgraded and accurate so that individuals currently in holding facilities in Mexico can get their due process and access to the operation of seeking asylum.”

She also supports a letter to the Biden administration warning against family detention policies that the Trump era ushered in, which break up families and separate children from their parents.

Assessing the Possibility of Comprehensive Immigration Reform 

Irrespective of an immigrant’s status, the Congresswoman believes they have a moral obligation to provide a pathway to citizenship and permanent residency, update the immigrant registry, and address employment-based backlogs plaguing the immigration system. 

In her view, the immigration laws are outdated, keeping families apart, raising uncertainty, and contributing to their inability to find and retain top talent. Answering the question, Is comprehensive immigration reform a dream?, the Congresswoman shares, “I believe that there will be comprehensive immigration reform.” The pressure building toward that is mounting on Capitol Hill. “And I think the American people recognize the necessity,” says Congresswoman Clarke.  

Unfortunately, some Congress members on Capitol Hill support the broken system. Such individuals need to be elected out of office. “So, I am hopeful and working hard to make comprehensive immigration reform a priority in this Congress,” says Congresswoman Clarke.

On May 10, as proof of her commitment and hard work towards promoting a human-focused, fair, and anti-discriminatory policy, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke joined other Democratic leaders like Rep. Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA) to introduce the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2023 in response to the Child Deportation Act, H.R. 2, that was initially proposed by House Republicans and aimed at hurting immigrants and ultimately harming the nation’s economy.

The bill aims to grant many hardworking, undocumented immigrants a pathway to earned citizenship.

As the interview ended, the Congresswoman celebrated the life of the late Harry Belafonte.

She described a man as a giant, a close family friend whose legacy lives on through the lives of many beneficiaries of his work. “Not only was he an extraordinary talent, but also a civil rights leader who used his celebrity status to stand up for the cause of people of African descent and to fight back against the discrimination, hatred, and bigotry that made life so difficult for so many of us.”

Ultimately, she is grateful for her long, fruitful service life and for setting an example of what giving and loving humanity are genuinely about.


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