Trump Ends Temp Status for Nicaraguans

November 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to push back against the Trump administration’s move to end Temporary Protected Status for thousands of Nicaraguan immigrants.

Nicaraguans with provisional residency — some of whom have been allowed to remain in the country since 1998 — have been given 14 months to leave the U.S., a decision that Supervisor Hilda Solis said would tear families apart.

“The Trump administration’s decision to end the TPS designation for more than 5,000 Nicaraguans with provisional residency is needless at best and callous at worst,” Solis said. “This action will tear apart families and upend the lives of hard-working immigrants who have contributed so much to our
country for so long.”

Temporary Protected Status has been granted to immigrants unable to return home safety due to armed conflict, environmental disaster — such as an earthquake or hurricane — an epidemic or other extraordinary conditions.

The protections are temporary by design and in the case of Nicaragua were related to catastrophic damage wrought by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said the conditions caused by the deadly hurricane no longer exist.

The administration delayed a decision on immigrants from Honduras, saying more time was needed to assess conditions in that country, and extended protections to July. It did not mention Salvadorans, Haitian or Syrians, whose status is set to expire in January or March, depending on the country.

Solis said she believed DHS was preparing to make additional announcements on Monday.

More than 200,000 Salvadorans live in the U.S. with provisional residency, making them the largest such group. An estimated 86,000 Hondurans and 59,000 Haitians have protected status.

Immigrants from Nepal, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen also have protected status with expirations scheduled later next year, with the exception of South Sudanese nationals whose status extends through 2019.

The board voted to send a letter to Trump and congressional leaders denouncing the decision to end TPS in Nicaragua and any pending termination as to Hondurans, Haitians and Salvadorans and demanding a permanent legislative solution.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas also highlighted Los Angeles County’s amicus brief in opposition of the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Childhood Arrivals program.

The “friend of the court” brief — in support of lawsuits filed by California and the University of California — alleges that the administration violated the Constitution and federal laws when it rescinded the DACA program.

“Los Angeles County is home to the nation’s largest concentration of DACA recipients,” Ridley-Thomas said. “We cannot turn our backs on them, as they are part of the fabric of our society, making significant contributions to our culture and economy.”

Immigrant rights groups decried the president’s action and vowed to fight the deportation of immigrants with TPS status. They pointed out that many of the countries from which TPS recipients hail are still in turmoil and unsafe.

Many regions in Central America are very violent and “people with TPS” can’t return to “that violence,” Martha Arévalo, executive director of Centro de Recursos Centroamericanos (CARECEN-Los Ángeles), told the EFE news service.

CARECEN will use all its energy to put pressure on legislators to come up with “permanent legislative solutions” for these immigrants, Arévalo said.

Solis Touts CSULA, Eastside As Biotech Opportunities

July 9, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles lags far behind big California cities like San Francisco and San Diego when it comes to attracting biotechnology and science industries to the region, but on Wednesday, L.A. County Sup. Hilda Solis was at Cal State L.A. singing the praises of the campus and the greater East Los Angeles area as viable investment opportunities for the full spectrum of bio-related industries.

Joining Solis at Cal State L.A. was U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams, who like Solis is a proponent of leveraging the bioscience industry to promote economic development.

According to Solis’ office, the two discussed the possibility of a future biotech corridor that would stretch from Cal State L.A. to the Los Angeles County+USC medical center in Boyle Heights, an area represented by the supervisor and former labor secretary.

Los Angeles County Sup. Hilda Solis (pictured in red) toured the Cal State LA campus Wednesday along with U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Develoment Jay Wiliams, (center).  (EGP Photo by Eddie Ruvalcaba)

Los Angeles County Sup. Hilda Solis (pictured in red) toured the Cal State LA campus Wednesday along with U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Develoment Jay Wiliams, (center). (EGP Photo by Eddie Ruvalcaba)

The biotech corridor would bring thousands of jobs to East Los Angeles, as well as promote cutting-edge research, the supervisor’s office said in an email.

“As former U.S. Secretary of Labor, I am committed to job creation and the biotech corridor is part of that vision,” said Solis, whose Supervisorial First District stands to gain from new jobs that will come as a result of this project.

Williams and Solis were given a tour of Cal State’s laboratories by President William A. Covino who talked about the University’s successful efforts to prepare students to excel in Ph.D. programs in STEM-related disciplines. They met students who are conducting research under the direction of professors Howard Xu and Cecilia Zurita Lopez.

Breana Luna, who is pursuing a master’s degree in biology, talked about Cal State L.A.’s role in fueling her interest in science.

“I’m sure your family is proud of you. Congratulations,” Williams told Luna.

Solis pointed out that Cal State L.A. plays an important role in training future researchers who will help the bioscience industry thrive in the area.

The university is at the center of the regional effort to expand bioscience businesses in the LA region and is in the process of building a bioscience incubator on its campus being paid for in part with a $3 million grant from the county.

According to Cal State, the incubator will provide laboratory space to private startup ventures to fuel their growth.The university said faculty and students will collaborate with the companies to share expertise that will benefit the university and the private sector community.

Cal State L.A. has applied for a $3 million grant from the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, the agency headed by Williams. The federal grant would be used to construct a new building for the incubator on the 175-acre campus.

To date, local companies have pledged to hire 300 new workers once the incubator is built. The university anticipates construction will be completed by the end of 2016.

“Employment in the field of biotechnology is important. These specialize jobs represent our future economy,” said Solis. “We need to prepare our young students so that they can seamlessly take on these research jobs.

“But, this biotech corridor will also bring construction jobs to East Los Angeles, and it will provide entrepreneurial opportunities for small businesses in the area.”

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.”

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