Hawkins Opposes Border Patrol Sweeps in Upstate New York

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party nominee for Governor, said today if  elected he would seek to end
the sweeps by the Border Patrol in upstate New  York.
The Board Patrol frequently boards buses and trains in upstate New  York and asks people of color to provide documentation of their legal residency  or citizenship. Some of the Green Party candidates for office this fall have been subjected to this treatment.

"New York has always prided itself on  being a melting pot. Our state has often revived itself both economically and  socially by a new wave of immigration. New York is not just a home for people of  northern European descent. People should not be targeted due to the color of the  skin or their accent," said Hawkins.

"The Greens oppose turning the US  into a country where its residents are required to produce ID papers at the whim  of government bureaucrats. Already, individuals who travel public transportation  in upstate New York, especially in the western regions, have begun carrying  passports or other legal papers because they never know when they will be  subject to questioning," added Hawkins.

Census data shows that 20% of New  York State residents were foreign born. More than one in six are classified as  Hispanic and 17% as Black by the census.

Cecile Lawrence, who is running  for the US Senate seat presently held by Gillibrand, said that when she was  teaching at the Rochester Institute of Technology this winter and spring, the  Border Patrol would routinely board the bus she took from  Binghamton.

"The first time I got questioned I replied 'U.S.' That did  not seem to satisfy the armed employee of Border Patrol. Apparently he wanted  'United States.'  When he questioned me again, I pointed to the ground and  said 'Here!' After a while of making this weekly bus trip for six months  from Rochester, they probably recognized me and so stopped questioning me," said  Dr. Lawrence.

"They tend to target people of color. I have seen terrified  people, who were speaking Spanish in the bus station, reply 'New York' as their citizenship when questioned on the bus and stopped speaking completely after  that; the man let this answer pass. I have seen a graduate student from China scolded for not having her papers.  I have seen a West African looking man,  who spoke an African language on his cell phone, searching desperately for some kind of paper that would satisfy the armed border patrol.  When we got to Syracuse, the Border Patrol was there again and made a beeline for that particular man.  By that time, he had found some kind of papers. At times, border patrol would bring a German shepherd to search the luggage  underneath. The dog would clamber all over people's luggage furiously,"  Lawrence added.

Hawkins previously announced that he would ensure that  local school districts were not illegally requiring children to provide  documentation of their status, something that is improperly done in one of five  New York school districts, according to a recent survey by the NY Civil  Liberties Union. Hawkins also supports providing drivers' licenses to all New  York State residents regardless of their immigrant status, a position supported  by many law enforcement officials.

The Green Party statewide ticket,  including Cecile Lawrence and Colia Clark for US Senate, advocates for amnesty  for undocumented immigrants; immigrant family reunification; creating a humane  path to citizenship; and supporting labor rights and living wages for all  workers. The Greens have long advocated that immigrants have the right to  receive federal benefits such as health care and public  assistance.

Studies by the Fiscal Policy Institute document the important  economic role that immigrants play in New York. New York's immigrants are  responsible for $229 billion in economic output in New York State. That's 22.4  percent of the total New York State. Despite the common impression that  immigrants work primarily in low-wage jobs, immigrants in New York State are entrepreneurs, managers, and workers in jobs at all levels of the economy.

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