Wake-Up Call: Obama, immigration, and 'ripping children from their parents' arms'

Published on November 21st, 2014

By Celeste Katz
November 21, 2014
As seen in:
New York Daily News

Good morning and welcome to Wake-Up Call, your guidebook to and roundup of the latest in city, state, and national political news…

President Obama announced extensive executive actions Thursday to spare nearly 5 million U.S. immigrants from deportation — making his case on sweeping moral grounds in a stirring appeal to the American character. “Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms?” he asked. By bypassing Congress to order the widest-ranging change to immigration policy since 1986, Obama gave the left the bold action they craved and thumbed his nose at Republicans who had just captured control of the Senate.

Mayim Islam grew up in Queens knowing his parents lived in fear. They left him in Bangladesh when they moved to the U.S., but were able to bring their son to New York when he was 9. Islam said President Obama’s executive action on immigration will change everything for his family. An activist, he has fought “for my parents to have Social Security cards and legally work here, and contribute to a country where they have spent 20 years of their life — and most of all not to worry about being taken away from their sons,” he said.

Our Jim Warren’s take: “President Obama on Thursday night surgically defied Republicans even as more Americans probably watched the doctors on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ than viewed his TV speech. Far from a heavy-handed “’dictator,’ he was a cold-eyed realist as he confronted low approval ratings, minimal TV coverage and the tricky legalities of our wayward immigration system…”

Bryan Pace for the New York Daily News

Our Juan Gonzalez: “For Queens College student Francisco Curiel, 22, all those years of protesting and lobbying for immigration reform had come down to this historic yet bittersweet moment. Curiel and other undocumented immigrants, joined by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, gathered Thursday night at the Jackson Heights headquarters of Make the Road New York to hear President Obama’s big announcement…”

A woman with a gun was arrested in front of the White House at about 8:30 p.m. Thursday, according to reports. The woman has been identified as 23-year-old April Lenhart, according to CBS News. Special agents spotted the woman carrying the 9 mm gun in a holster around her waist, CBS reported. The Michigan woman is being uncooperative in questioning. She faces charges of possessing an unregistered firearm.

Mayor de Blasio is hosting an immigration summit at Gracie Mansion with at least 20 mayors from cities like San Francisco, Seattle and Atlanta. The Dec. 8 summit will address changes and reforms in line with President Obama’s immigration orders, de Blasio said. “This summit will offer a unique opportunity for mayors of many of our nation’s progressive cities to restate our leadership and responsibility on this decisive issue,” he said.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is planning to probe why New York’s voter turnout was so low on Election Day. Schneiderman, during a radio interview Thursday, expressed alarm that so few voters took part in the election and said he wanted to investigate what impediments might be keeping people from the ballot box. “We don’t have voter ID laws, and yet we are always on the bottom of the list in terms of voter participation,” he said.

A Brooklyn contractor must pay $200,000 in restitution and serve five years probation for underpaying workers assigned to a construction job at JFK Airport. Leonid Fridman, owner of the Millennium Commercial Corp., agreed to the penalties as part of a plea deal with Schneiderman. “Mr. Fridman is being held accountable for stealing wages from workers who renovated parts of JFK,” Schneiderman said.

New York’s highest court handed a victory to tenants in rent stabilized apartments Thursday when it ruled their leases could not be seized as assets in bankruptcy proceedings. The Court of Appeals sided with a Manhattan widow’s argument that her rent-stabilized lease was a public assistance benefit, not an asset that could be liquidated.

A state authority board approved a controversial $511.45 million loan to help fund the new Tappan Zee bridge with virtually no legally required public discussion, a new report found. The Authorities Budget Office report released Thursday is a black eye for the Cuomo administration, which pushed to redirect the Environmental Facilities Corp. money from its intended purpose of funding clean water and sewer projects. The probe was sparked by a complaint filed by activist groups.

State Assembly Republican Leader Brian Kolb was reelected to another term has head of the GOP conference Thursday despite criticism from within his own membership that he failed to challenge Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Democrats.

Todd Maisel/New York Daily News
Rikers Island is a “dehumanizing” institution that breaks inmates and fosters injustice, Mayor de Blasio said Thursday in vowing to turn around the infamous complex. The mayor’s stark assessment came at a City Hall roundtable with Correction Commissioner Joe Ponte to tout plans to reform Rikers, where reports have bared rampant violence and corruption.

Chirlane McCray has “only just begun” her role as a key adviser, Mayor de Blasio said in a spirited defense of his wife’s right to a chief of staff. “She’s working for free on behalf of the people of the city. So, by definition, she needs a staff,” de Blasio said. McCray’s $170,000-a-year COS, Rachel Noerdlinger, took a leave Monday amid controversy about her family and finances.

Teh Eng Koon/AFP/Getty Images

A Queens assemblyman wants to bag the idea of charging shoppers a dime for a plastic sack — by banning their use in favor of recycled paper totes at grocery stores.

“The consumer should not pay an additional fee or be taxed for shopping, because consumers did not cause the problem,” Assemblyman Michael DenDekker, a Democrat, told the Daily News Thursday.

There could be a reason for the civic-minded to light up. Legalizing marijuana could rake in $25 million a year, according to the Independent Budget Office. The money would come from slapping a 4.5% city sales tax on all pot sales. It’s one of dozens of revenue generators the IBO analyzed in its 14th annual Budget Options report.

The city is looking to let people hit with summonses for pot mail in their fines instead of going to court, Mayor de Blasio said. De Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton changed the city’s policy last week so people caught with less than 25 grams of marijuana will be given a summons instead of getting arrested.

EXCLUSIVE: These Bronx prosecutors are going to be on Santa’s naughty list. A group of assistant district attorneys landed in a holiday hullabaloo Thursday after a year-old photo surfaced with the gang of eight flashing hand signals from the Bloods, the Crips and the Trinitarios. “We’re outraged because they think it’s a joke,” said one defense attorney after the photo, with a green and silver garland as its backdrop, reappeared this week. “You can’t have it both ways.”

Mayor de Blasio said he supports tougher regulation on Times Square’s Elmos and Cookie Monsters, as the City Council considers forcing the costumed characters to get licenses. The legislation would require the characters, who pose for pictures with tourists and kids for tips, to get $175 licenses and wear badges with their real names and photos.

google maps

Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp is “permanently closed,” at least according to Google Maps. President Obama ordered the prison known for waterboarding and force-feeding its prisoners to be closed in 2009 but it remains open with more than 140 prisoners. Reviewers on Google Maps gave the camp in Cuba a 3.3-star user rating overall. There are 162 reviews of the detention camp, most of which appear to be jokes calling it a resort.

The Obama administration admitted Thursday that it over-reported the number of people who signed up for medical coverage under the President’s signature health care law by double-counting, in its initial reported numbers, hundreds of thousands of people who enrolled in dental insurance plans.

We threw off British rule in 1776 — but American reporters still face a royal dressing-down if they don’t bow to sartorial standards when William and Kate come to town. U.S. reporters applying to cover a visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to New York and Washington next month have been reminded of Buckingham Palace’s posted policy on proper dress for covering the royal family.

From our Bramhall’s World:

Leaders’ Lineup:

President Obama is in Washington and Nevada

12:55 PM: Delivers remarks on the new steps he will be taking within his executive authority on immigration, Del Sol High School, Las Vegas

Gov. Cuomo is in Erie County

10:00 AM: Holds Storm Briefing, Thruway Authority Facility, 1870 Walden Ave., Cheektowaga

Mayor de Blasio is in NYC

11:00 AM: Visits Lehman College Nursing Simulation Lab, T-3 Building, 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx

11:30 AM: Hosts Press Conference to Make Announcement, The APEX Building – Second Floor Bridge – Gate 7, Lehman College

Tuning In:

“The Joe Piscopo Show,” AM 970, 6 a.m.: Vinnie Favale, VP of CBS Late Night Programming and producer of the play “Hereafter;” Frankie Keane, co-writer and lyricist for “Hereafter;” Michael Cutler, retired Senior INS Agent and senior fellow with Californians for Population Stabilization; Michael Connors, host of “Ask the Lawyer;” Rachel Sutherland, correspondent for Fox News Radio.

“The Brian Lehrer Show,” WNYC 93.9 FM, 10 a.m.: “Major immigration changes; Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen; a look at why drivers are rarely found to be at fault when they hit pedestrians; subway manners; and stories of the GM building.”

“Inside City Hall,” NY1, 7 p.m.: Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen; Reporters Roundtable.

“I won’t have it any other way.”

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