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Immigration issue hits home turf
Immigration is a tricky political issue in Nassau County . . . until it isn’t.
Monday, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Rep. Thomas Suozzi toured MercyFirst in Syosset, where eight children taken from their parents recently after crossing the border were sent to be cared for.
The idea for the event came from Curran’s staff, who reached out to Suozzi. MercyFirst is a facility operated by the Sisters of Mercy. It currently provides shelter to 116 children ages 6 through 12. Some are U.S. citizens, some are unaccompanied minors who crossed the border without their parents, and some of the newest arrivals came with their parents but were separated when the Trump administration started arresting adults for seeking asylum.
On Monday, Suozzi and Curran were able to tour the facility and talk to staff. Actually speaking to the children to hear their individual stories requires permission from the Department of Health and Human Services, and a request must be filed two weeks in advance, which the county has now done.
During her election race last year, Curran was assailed by her opponents for accepting support from groups they painted as sympathetic to immigrants here illegally, including Make the Road Action, the Long Island Progressive Coalition, the Working Families Party and the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ.
Republican opponent Jack Martins’ campaign went to great lengths in its advertising to connect Curran to murderous MS-13 gang members in the minds of voters. And illegal immigration continues to be a contentious issue in Nassau.
But not so much when it comes to forcibly separating small children from their parents.
“She is a mother,” county spokesman Mike Martino said of Curran, “and this is an issue that has really touched her. She wanted to go and see MercyFirst for herself, and she wants to go back soon to talk to the kids and see how they’re doing.”
Albany’s next move
The State Legislature wrapped up with a whimper in the early morning hours of Thursday, and already there is talk about lawmakers heading back for a special session to deal with unfinished business.
The smart talk right now is that lawmakers will most likely return in early September to authorize school-zone speed cameras for New York City, as well as other local measures for communities in many districts that were deliberately left by the wayside. Last year, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called back the legislature in late June to reauthorize a two-year extension of mayoral control of city public schools just before it was set to expire. But since neither chamber gaveled out of session this year, members could return at any time to take up pressing measures.
The September 2018 time frame, however, gives Cuomo a platform before the state primary on Sept. 13 to get the 140 safety cameras, which will shut off on July 25, operating again at the start of the academic year. And Republican state senators, who couldn’t muster the votes for NYC because Sen. Simcha Felder of Brooklyn (who sides with the GOP), wanted the fines from the speeding violations to pay for positioning New York City cops at public schools.
“A bunch of local bills, very member-specific local projects were held out,” an Albany strategist, who expects that lawmakers will feel pressured in an election year to deliver, told The Point.
One such bill that the Assembly pulled from consideration affects Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan’s district. It would have authorized the transfer of a tiny piece of land south of Route 25A in Kings Park to Suffolk County for a pump station to connect the business district and an apartment complex to sewer district. It was considered a routine matter because both the town and the county approved home-rule messages, and there really was no controversy because the state was picking up the $20 million tab.
But it’s Albany, and nobody gets what he or she wants until everybody, or almost everybody, gets something.
Reached our limits
2022 will be quite the year for ribbon-cutting
If all goes as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo plans, New York will need plenty of large ribbons for cutting come 2022.
Already, East Side Access, the effort to bring the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal, and the LIRR’s third-track project, are both supposed to be finished by the end of 2022.
Now, add the LaGuardia Airport AirTrain.
Cuomo signed legislation Monday that will allow the Port Authority to consider using a route for the AirTrain that would include public parkland and other public space between LaGuardia and Willets Point. The route, according to Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton, would allow for a trip totaling 30 minutes if a rider takes the LIRR from Manhattan to Willets Point, and then the AirTrain to LaGuardia. The total on the 7 train from Manhattan to Willets, and then the AirTrain, is likely to take longer.
Environmental review for the AirTrain is expected to begin this summer, and continue until the fall of 2019, Cotton said. Construction will start in 2020, the same year LaGuardia’s main terminal is slated to open.
That would put the AirTrain on schedule to be done right around the same time as East Side Access and the third track — in 2022.
But there’s a presidential election between now and then.
So, a question remains: Will Cuomo have to make a special trip from Washington — into LaGuardia — for the ribbon-cuttings?
Randi F. Marshall