Southeast Student Artists Recognized

May 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard once again recognized student artist in her district, announcing the winners of her annual art competition.

Rebeka Martinez, a senior at Paramount High School, was the first place winner of the 24th Annual Lucille Roybal-Allard Student Art Competition for her piece “Light That Never Goes Out.” She will receive a $1,000 scholarship, $200 for art supplies, and a trip with a parent to Washington, DC to attend the national art exhibit opening.

First Place winner Rebeka Martinez (fifth from left), a senior at Paramount High School, poses with her acrylic, graphite, and charcoal art piece titled “Light That Never Goes Out” with Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (third from right). Rebeka is joined by members of her family, as well as White Memorial Medical Center representative Yuri Casco (far left), Paramount High School Acting Principal Dr. Damon Dragos (second from left) and Rebeka’s instructor Juan R. Navarro (far right).(Office of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard)

First Place winner Rebeka Martinez (fifth from left), a senior at Paramount High School, poses with her acrylic, graphite, and charcoal art piece titled “Light That Never Goes Out” with Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (third from right). Rebeka is joined by members of her family, as well as White Memorial Medical Center representative Yuri Casco (far left), Paramount High School Acting Principal Dr. Damon Dragos (second from left) and Rebeka’s instructor Juan R. Navarro (far right).(Office of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard)

Noah Endo, a junior at Paramount High School, won second place for “The Monster of Many Forms”; Kimberly Peña, a Downey High School senior, won third place for her photograph “A Night”; Léana Perez, a Paramount High School senior, won honorable mention for “Behind the Art”; and Adamarys Estrada, a Dr. Maya Angelou High School sophomore won the people’s choice award for “Light in the Depths of Darkness.”

Rebeka will have her entry displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year, while the remaining winning students each received a scholarship, money for art supplies and will have their artwork displayed in Congresswoman Roybal-Allard’s District Office in Commerce.

“Once again, the students in this competition have displayed their great artistic talents by producing a range of striking and memorable works,” said Congresswoman Roybal-Allard.

 

Democratic Leaders Urge Obama to Pardon ‘Dreamers’

November 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s an American tradition, the presidential pardon of a turkey during the Thanksgiving season. Scheduled to take place Wednesday in the White House Rose Garden, the pardon allows the turkey to continue to live free.

At a news conference last Thursday, three Democratic House members urged President Barack to exercise the same compassion and constitutional authority to pardon 750,000 “Dreamers” before he leaves office.

Reps. Roybal-Allard (CA-40). Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) and Luis V. Gutierrez (IL-4) asked the commander-in-chief to protect undocumented young people brought to the United States as children, who signed up for his DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program.

Fearing that President-elect Donald Trump will repeal DACA once in office, the Democratic leaders want to ensure the three-quarters of a million young people commonly referred to as ‘dreamers” are protected from deportation.

“By no fault of their own, these Americans are prisoners in their own country, living their daily lives not knowing if they will be deported to a foreign country,” Roybal-Allard said Thursday at the U.S. Capitol.

“If they are forced to leave the United States, it is our country that loses.”

President Obama issued the executive order creating DACA in June 2012 to protect young people from deportation who were brought to the country illegally through no fault of their own by a parent or other guardian.

At the time, Obama said the young undocumented immigrants are “Americans in their heart” but not “on paper,” acknowledging the fact that many of those eligible for DACA have spent most of their lives in the U.S. and have no real ties to the country where they were born.

Fear is growing among undocumented residents that Trump could be getting ready to act on a campaign promise to deport 2 to 3 million people in the U.S. illegally with criminal backgrounds, and to reverse Obama’s executive actions creating DACA. Under DACA, three-quarters of a million immigrants without legal status have become eligible to receive a temporary, two-year renewable permit to work legally in the U.S., get a Social Security number, pay taxes and to get driver’s licenses, in addition to a reprieve from deportation.

To qualify, applicants must have been brought to the U.S. as children or teenagers, be under the age of 31, been in the country for at least five years, be pursuing an education or have already received a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Those who registered under the DACA initiative paid a fee, were fingerprinted, provided addresses of relatives and had to pass a criminal background check, which means the Department of Homeland Security could easily locate them if they were to become subject to deportation under the Trump Administration, the elected officials pointed out in a letter addressed to the president.

“Using your pardon authority, which is not subject to reversal, to protect young people who relied on the program you implemented is quite literally a matter of life and death,” the letter reads.

President Obama has not responded to the request directly but the White House reiterated the president takes the executive clemency power seriously and explained that his pardon could provide legal status to the undocumented individual, which DACA does not grant.

“As we have repeatedly said for years, only Congress can create legal status for undocumented individuals,” a White House official was quoted as saying.

The three members of congress point out that power to grant reprieves and pardons extends to civil immigration violations.

“We trust that you will consider our request with the utmost urgency given the gravity of the situation and hope that these pardons could be accomplished this Thanksgiving season,” the letter concluded.

 

Memorial Tree for Congressman Roybal Planted on Capitol Grounds

March 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A tree was planted Wednesday on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in memory of Rep. Edward R. Roybal, who spent three decades in Congress representing a Los Angeles-area district.

The father of Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles, was also a member of the Los Angeles City Council for more than a dozen years. Elected in 1949, he was the first Hispanic to serve on the council in more than a century.

He died in October 2005 at the age of 89.

A red oak was planted in his honor on the Capitol’s south side.

“In celebration of the centennial of my father’s birth, I can think of no greater tribute than the planting of this red oak tree on the U.S. Capitol grounds,” Roybal-Allard said. “If my father were alive today, of all the tributes he has received, this tree would be among his most cherished, because it is being planted between the House of Representatives, which my father truly believed is the people’s house, and the Rayburn Building, where he spent much of his 30 years in Congress doing the people’s work.

Congresswoman Roybal-Allard (third from left) and family members take part in the tree planting. (Congresswoman Roybal-Allard (third from left) and family members take part in the tree planting. (Congresswoman Roybal-Allard (third from left) and family members take part in the tree planting. (Office of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard)

Congresswoman Roybal-Allard (third from left) and family members take part in the tree planting. (Congresswoman Roybal-Allard (third from left) and family members take part in the tree planting. (Congresswoman Roybal-Allard (third from left) and family members take part in the tree planting. (Office of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard)

“This tree will be a living testimony to my father’s work to ignite beacons of hope and opportunity for all Americans,” she said.

Roybal was one of the era’s leading congressional voices on health care, education, housing and jobs policy. He also co-founded the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, and founded the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

The tree-planting marked the centennial of Roybal’s birth, which coincides with the 40th anniversary of the CHC.

In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded Rep. Roybal the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously. In his remarks at the medal presentation, Obama said of Rep. Roybal, “He left us nearly a decade ago, but Edward Roybal was and remains a hero to so many – not just Latinos but all Americans.”

Why Always Us? Ask East L.A. Residents

June 25, 2015 by · 4 Comments 

Angered by the possibility of another transportation project devastating their community, dozens of eastside residents expressed their opposition to a SR-710 North alternative they believe would once again require East Los Angeles to pay a high price for what is a regional problem.

“For decades, we have been the dumping grounds for the problems of other communities,” said Clara Solis Saturday during a Metro meeting in East L.A.

“Now we’re being asked once again to sacrifice for the greater good,” she said in disbelief.

[Read an introduction to the SR-710 North project here]
[Read about health concerns  http://egpnews.com/2015/06/health-concerns-weigh-heavy-on-east-l-a-residents/

It soon became clear that the majority of East L.A. residents at the meeting at Griffith Middle School believe the light rail train (LRT) alternative will disrupt a community already divide and surrounded by transportation projects.

Longtime East Los Angeles resident Margarita Sanchez, pictured left, scolds Metro officials for a SR-710 alternative she belives will devastate her community during a meeting Saturday at Griffith Middle School.  (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Longtime East Los Angeles resident Margarita Sanchez, pictured left, scolds Metro officials for a SR-710 alternative she belives will devastate her community during a meeting Saturday at Griffith Middle School. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

“East L.A. has taken their burden, they have taken a fair share of projects,” said Jeffrey Hernandez, referring to the 60 (Pomona) 5 (Santa Ana/Golden State) and 710 (Long Beach) freeways and Metro Gold Line that were built to benefit traffic in the region but have splintered the eastside community.

Many said they prefer a tunnel over an elevated light rail train that would stay above ground through East L.A., but go underground in more affluent communities, such as South Pasadena, San Marino and La Canada.

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard calls the light rail alternative an example of “environmental racism.”

“While the light rail is being proposed under the guise of a regional solution, the fact is it is nothing more than an irresponsible and unconscionable response to the more influential areas opposing the logical completion of the 710 Freeway,” she told EGP in a statement.

“Unfortunately, this light rail alternative is one more example of a minority community being sacrificed to appease more affluent neighborhoods.”

A similar statement from Roybal-Allard was read during Saturday’s meeting, drawing loud cheers from residents, heartened to hear an elected official speak so strongly in support of their community. Roybal-Allard represents East Los Angeles and Commerce, also located adjacent to the 710 freeway.

[Read her Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard’s full statement here]

The meeting was at times rowdy, as residents and business owners, often speaking loudly and passionately, demanded Metro officials give them a chance to be heard: something they said the agency failed to do during earlier scoping process.

When Metro officials refused to allow speakers who had gone over their allotted two minutes to keep speaking, the crowd at times responded angrily.

“Why not? Of course you can extend the amount of time,” one woman yelled out from the audience. Two minutes, “is not enough [time] for what we have to say.”

According to the Draft Environmental report, building the light rail would force the removal of 15 businesses.

“We in East L.A. have made a sacrifice to relieve traffic, we don’t need another Gold Line,” said Lily Hernandez. “What we need is jobs, we need progress and this alternative is going to hinder that,” Hernandez said.

Business owner Tony DeMarco, representing the Whittier Boulevard Merchants Association, said he believed the EIR/EIS process has been flawed since before it was expanded into East L.A.

“They should have allowed East L.A. to be in the discussion when there was 100 alternatives, not just when there’s 5 left.”

“The rich communities have had years to study this,” echoed Margarita Sanchez, a longtime East L.A resident. “You have the nerve to bring this to our community at the last minute.”

“It’s kind of like a take it or leave it attitude,” DeMarco said.

Many of those who oppose the light rail favor another controversial alternative.

“If you’re to give us what we need, give us a tunnel,” David Ibarra said defiantly.

However, Mark Lopez of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice warned attendees not to be so quick to support the tunnel.

“East L.A. was so late in the process, [it’s] a tactic used to instigate more support for the tunnel project,” he told EGP.

A map of East Los Angeles illustrate how the community is surrounded by freeways. (Google Maps)

A map of East Los Angeles illustrate how the community is surrounded by freeways. (Google Maps)

“We need to get back to the scoping, not picking an alternative,” he said.

Dr. Tom Williams, a Sierra Club member and El Sereno resident, said he opposes all current alternatives. He said a community group is getting ready to submit yet another community alternative. In May, the cities of Glendale, La Canada Flintridge, Pasadena, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena gave their support to the Beyond the 710 coalition’s “6th alternative,” not in the Draft EIR.

The plan calls for expanding public transportation, building a four-lane boulevard, and more pedestrian- and bike-friendly paths to reduce traffic congestion in the western San Gabriel Valley. Construction ends south of those cities. The 710 Coalition — which includes several cities and communities along the 710 freeway that favor the tunnel alternative — criticized the new initiative as too late in the game and just a guise for tunnel opponents to “undermine Metro’s ongoing DEIR/EIS process, which took four years to be reviewed, processed and released.”

On Saturday, County Supervisor Hilda Solis said the community must continue to make sure their voices are heard during the review process. She agreed that more information about the impact to the region is warranted.

“As I have stated in more than one occasion, I do not believe that the East LA community has enough information about the health impacts of the different options for the 710 N. extension,” she told EGP in an email; stopping short of answering if she agrees with Roybal-Allard that the light rail train is another example of environmental racism.

“I do not see any of the alternatives as a natural choice, especially when considering the health, development, and economic impacts to those in my district,” Solis said. “I will continue to push Metro and Caltrans to be inclusive, transparent and responsive, until we have all the information we need to make a choice that helps … all residents of Los Angeles County.”

For East L.A. Chamber of Commerce Executive Board Member Eddie Torres, the choice is clear. He says his Chamber, the Whittier Merchants, Maravilla Business Improvement Assoc. and new East Los Angeles Advisory Board all support the tunnel alternative.

“We surveyed people leaving the meeting and about 80% said they want the tunnel, not a light rail, he told EGP. “ We’re hearing that Solis says we don’t want either, but that’s not true,” he said.

“Congresswoman Roybal-Allard has it right, she knows the community, she knows what we need and supports us.”

SR-710 Expansion: 60 Years of Discord

June 25, 2015 by · 3 Comments 

More than half a century ago, transportation officials in the Southland knew that they would have to do something to relieve the inevitable traffic congestion that would pile up along the 710 Freeway headed north. They had plans to build a freeway extension to complete the 4.5-mile gap between the terminus of the 710 Freeway in Alhambra and the 210 Freeway in Pasadena.

Fearing disruption to their neighborhoods and the taking of their homes, residents filed lawsuits, effectively stopping the expansion for nearly 60 years.

During the ensuing years, traffic has increased dramatically, both in terms of goods movement and people driving to work, school, shopping or home.

For large diesel trucks traveling from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, hauling as much as 40% of all the goods consumed in the U.S., the 710 Freeway is a key transportation route to distribution centers and commercial markets to the east and north of Los Angeles County.

The crush of traffic has pushed more trucks and cars onto local streets, making it harder for residents to get around, and according to health experts, increasing their risk of cancer, asthma, learning disabilities and premature babies due to increased pollution.

In March, Metro released a Draft Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (DIR/EIS) with five proposed alternatives for improving traffic through the region; a freeway tunnel, a light rail train; a rapid bus line; a traffic management system and the required “no build” option.

Several public hearings on the draft report have already been held; the latest Saturday in East Los Angeles. Some groups are now calling the alternatives “outdated” for today’s transportation and environmental needs, and want to start the process over.

The two proposals getting the most attention are the 7-mile tunnel connecting the two freeways, and a light rail alternative that backers say will make it easier for people to leave their car behind.

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard represents many of the working class, predominately Latino communities caught in the 710 traffic snarl. Last week, she issued the strongest statement to date by any public official on the project:

“The proposed light rail route is an unacceptable alternative. It is one more example of the environmental racism with which East L.A. and Southeast citizens are only too familiar … one more example of a minority community being sacrificed to appease more affluent neighborhoods.” (See her full statement here ). She supports building the tunnel.

Metro has extended the deadline to comment on the on the Draft EIR from July 6 to Aug. 5. Comments will be used to create the final report and recommendation of an alternative to Metro’s Board of Directors.

It’s Time to Close 710 Gap, But Not With Light Rail

June 25, 2015 by · 6 Comments 

The goal of the State Route 710 North study is to address a nearly sixty-year delay in completing this Freeway. The unfinished SR 710 creates traffic jams, pollution, and an overall unhealthy environment, resulting in a lesser quality of life for the surrounding communities.

The proposed light rail route is an unacceptable alternative. It is one more example of the environmental racism with which East L.A. and Southeast citizens are only too familiar. While the light rail is being proposed under the guise of a regional solution, the fact is it is nothing more than an irresponsible and unconscionable response to the more influential areas opposing the logical completion of the 710 Freeway. The light rail does not solve the real problem of the 710 gap, nor will it reduce transportation congestion on the surrounding residential streets. It will, however, further divide and negatively impact East L.A. neighborhoods in the same way Boyle Heights, where I was born and raised, was divided and damaged by the building of the freeways. Furthermore, the light rail project will require destroying East L.A.’s newest economic development project, a business plaza that is home to 15 businesses and 155 jobs. Destroying these thriving businesses and eliminating jobs in a community that continues to suffer from unemployment that is higher than both the state and national levels is totally unacceptable.

I have fought environmental racism my entire political career. Unfortunately, this light rail alternative is one more example of a minority community being sacrificed to appease more affluent neighborhoods. This is highlighted by the fact that the proposed light rail does nothing to address the real issue of an incomplete 710, and the commuter traffic it dumps onto our city streets. Further evidence is that the proposed light rail is elevated in the East L.A. area, but goes underground once it leaves East L.A.!

Of the five alternatives presented to us in the Draft EIR, the freeway tunnel is the only alternative that meets the stated goal of improving the efficiency of the existing regional freeway and transit networks. It is also the only alternative that provides a seamless transportation route for commuters on the 710 corridor.

It is long past the time to do the responsible thing and close the 710 gap!

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard represents California’s 40th District, which includes the cities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Commerce, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Maywood, Downey, Bellflower, Vernon, and Paramount, as well as South Los Angeles and the unincorporated areas of East Los Angeles.

Congresswoman Recognizes Artists

May 18, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard honored five young female artists this week during her 22nd Annual Student Art Competition.

“Every year, I eagerly look forward to this Art Competition,” said Roybal-Allard. “It’s such a wonderful way for our local youth to share their creativity and talent with the community. It also reminds us of the positive impact that art and art education can have on students’ academic performance, self-esteem, and confidence.”

(Office of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard)

(Office of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard)

The winners received scholarships and money for art supplies. The first place winner Justine Muñoz will have her artwork displayed in the U.S. Capitol.

All submitted entries will be on display to the public through June 5 in the lobby of the Citadel Outlets in Commerce.

Pictured: (Left to right) 1st Place winner Justine Muñoz, People’s Choice Award winner Batoul Akil, Congresswoman Roybal-Allard, 3rd Place winner Lelilani Gonzalez, 2nd Place winner Sabrina Claros, and Honorable Mention winner Karla Maria Jacome.

 

Protect America: Pass a Clean Homeland Security Budget Now

February 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

No matter what state we come from or which party we represent, every Member of Congress is entrusted with the sacred responsibility of keeping our nation safe. Unfortunately, on Friday, February 13, the House Republican Majority decided to leave Washington, D.C. for a week-long recess, even though there are only four more legislative days until the Department of Homeland Security shuts down.

 

If DHS funding is allowed to expire at the end of February, 85 percent of essential DHS personnel, such as our front-line federal agents and law enforcement officers, will be required to work but without pay. Is this fair – to expect these dedicated Americans to put their lives on the line without pay and the ability to provide for their families? I think not. And I believe the American people would agree that this is unfair.

Department of Homeland Security is currently trying to fulfill its mission under the uncertainty of a Continuing Resolution, which will expire on February 28. The Secretary of Homeland Security has warned that not having a 2015 appropriation threatens our national security. The lack of a full-year budget, he says, is delaying the issuing of preparedness and response grants to state and local governments. Without these grants, many of our first responders and other public safety personnel are at risk of not being fully prepared when responding to earthquakes, floods, fires, and even terrorist attacks.

 

Not having a full-year budget limits the Secretary’s efforts to make the department more effective in achieving its security missions, as well as his ability to aggressively implement his Southern Border and Approaches campaign. It also creates uncertainty about ICE’s ability to transfer unaccompanied children to the Department of Health and Human Services for humane treatment, and its capacity to detain and deport dangerous criminals. Moreover, operating under the lower allocations and uncertainty of a Continuing Resolution has the potential to delay and ultimately increase the cost of needed procurements, including the Coast Guard’s 8th National Security Cutter, the hiring of new Secret Service personnel, and the installation of badly needed security upgrades at the White House Complex to prevent fence-jumper intrusions.

 

While I do not question the commitment my Republican colleagues have to protecting our country, I do worry that some fail to fully appreciate the negative impact of inappropriately using the 2015 DHS Appropriations bill as leverage to reverse the President’s executive actions on immigration policy. If my Republican colleagues believe the President has overreached, the Constitution provides them a path of action through the authorizing committees rather than an appropriations bill.

On February 10th, I, with my colleague Congresswoman Nita Lowey, introduced H.R. 861. Our bill contains no poison pill riders or radical anti-immigrant language. It simply has the text of the bipartisan funding bill the House and Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittees negotiated last November, and funds the Department of Homeland Security through the end of Fiscal Year 2015. The bill is co-sponsored by all 188 voting House Democrats, and unlike the Republicans’ funding bill, it is capable of passing Congress and being signed by the President. All our bill needs is for Speaker Boehner to bring it to a vote in the House.

 

At a time when we are increasingly faced with the possibility of terrorist threats and natural disasters, I urge the Republican leadership to support H.R. 861, modeled after the clean, bipartisan, bicameral 2015 Homeland Security Appropriations bill negotiated in good faith last November. Protecting our national security should never be a partisan issue. It is time for Republicans and Democrats in Congress to come together to protect our country and keep the American people safe.

 

To do otherwise is a failure in our most basic responsibility as Members of Congress.

 

U.S. Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard is a Democrat representing California’s 40th Congressional District. She has been recommended to be Ranking Member on the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.

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