- 1 Education
- 2 Political career
- 3 Supported Yale militancy
- 4 Supported Progressive Health Care Reform
- 5 Senate campaign team
- 6 Labor support 2010
- 7 Anti "speculator" bill
- 8 Equal Opportunity for All Act
- 9 Multimillion Dollar Corporate Bonuses Act
- 10 Corporate Accountability
- 11 ARA connections
- 12 "Immigration reform"
- 13 People's Climate March
- 14 Rally with Harp
- 15 Backing Toni Harp
- 16 Los Borinqueneers
- 17 Immigration action planning
- 18 Muslim connections
- 19 Trump's Russia ties
- 20 Sanctuary City
- 21 Single Payer Bill
- 22 “Defend Our Immigrant Communities”
- 23 Resolution to Honor Civil Rights Hero Fred Korematsu
- 24 SAALT Congressional Briefing on Hate Violence
- 25 References
Richard Blumenthal is the Senior Senator for Connecticut. Sworn in on January 5, 2011, Blumenthal is serving his first term as a United States Senator.
Senator Blumenthal served five terms as Connecticut’s Attorney General, "fighting for people against large and powerful special interests. His aggressive law enforcement for consumer protection, environmental stewardship, labor rights, and personal privacy, has helped reshape the role of state attorneys general nationwide, and resulted in the recovery of hundreds of millions of dollars for Connecticut taxpayers and consumers each year".
Senator Blumenthal graduated from Harvard College (Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude), and Yale Law School, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal.
Blumenthal served in the Connecticut House of Representatives from 1984 to 1987, and the Connecticut State Senate from 1987 to 1990. As a volunteer attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Senator Blumenthal saved the life of an innocent, wrongly convicted death row inmate, who came within hours of execution. From 1977 to 1981, Senator Blumenthal served as a U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, prosecuting drug trafficking, organized and white collar crime, civil rights violations, consumer fraud, and environmental pollution.
Prior to his position as U.S. Attorney, Senator Blumenthal also served as Administrative Assistant to U.S. Sen. Abraham A. Ribicoff, aide to former U.S. Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan when Moynihan was Assistant to the President of the United States, and law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun. 
Supported Yale militancy
Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) is 650 miles from the notorious anti-worker Smithfield Foods livestock processing factory in Tar Heel, N.C. On Smithfield’s killing floors and in New Haven’s healing wards, the workers have something in common. Their employers use illegal, anti-democratic union-busting tactics to deny a voice on the job.
In December 2006, the YNHH administration outraged workers, elected officials, clergy, the media and the entire community when they defied a conduct agreement and undermined a union election they were certain to lose. The hospital became the new poster child for why the Employee Free Choice Act (HR 800) is a top priority in the 110th Congress.
Under CEO Marna Borgstrom, YNHH stepped up violations of the Community Benefit Agreement. Management held meetings with all supervisors to coordinate an escalated anti-union campaign. Supervisors held one-on-one meetings with workers. They falsely claimed that a union contract would not allow supervisors to give time off to go to the doctor or attend to other emergencies. They threatened that benefits would be cut and job security would be eliminated.
To get around the fact that management was prohibited by the fair election agreement from forcing workers to attend anti-union meetings, supervisors scheduled compulsory meetings to discuss department business. After a few minutes, they would announce that they were going to talk about the union. Workers were now “free” to leave, but anyone who did would be fingered as a union supporter.
In this atmosphere, members of Locals 34 and 35 and 1199 food service workers showed consistent courage and determination.
A noontime rally of Local 34 members heard that YNHH supervisors were meeting in a nearby university building to plan anti-union strategy. Over 100 Local 34 members marched into the meeting room, holding signs and singing union songs. After a few minutes, the supervisors had to give up and walk out.
On a daily basis, food service workers, proudly wearing their 1199 union buttons, refused to be intimidated. They spent their breaks in the cafeteria and lobby talking to other workers about their own positive experience as union members.
But after two weeks of all-out war by YNHH management, enough workers had been bullied, intimidated, isolated and lied-to that the union concluded there could no longer be a fair election. By deliberately creating an atmosphere of polarization and fear, management had “poisoned the well.”
The union appealed to the arbitrator overseeing the Community Benefit Agreement, Margaret Kern. On Dec. 13, after hearing the evidence, Kern ruled in favor of the union’s request to indefinitely postpone the election because “the employer has engaged in serious violations of federal law, the election principles agreement, and prior arbitration awards.” The hospital had succeeded in subverting the democratic process.
The hospital’s actions created a storm of protest. The anti-union New Haven Register editorially blasted the hospital for its conduct, as did Yale University President Richard Levin, who sits on the hospital board. State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal called for the hospital to abide by card-check neutrality. The mayor and Board of Aldermen are considering what actions they will take.
Instead of sitting down at the bargaining table with 2,000 newly organized members, Ray Milici and his brothers and sisters are once again bargaining on behalf of 140 dietary workers, as their contract runs out. “We’ll just have to wait a little longer,” said Milici. “In the end, it’s truth to power and we will win.”
Supported Progressive Health Care Reform
In late 2009, Richard Blumenthal was one of more than 1,000 state legislators to sign a letter entitled "State Legislators for Progressive Health Care Reform". The letter was a project of the Progressive States Network and was developed in consultation with national health care reform advocates, including the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Community Catalyst, Families USA, Herndon Alliance, National Women's Law Center, Northeast Action, SEIU, and Universal Health Care Action Network. The letter reads in part,
- "Failure to pass national comprehensive health reform now will further jeopardize state and local budgets, undermining public services like education, public safety, and transportation infrastructure... We, the undersigned, call on President Obama and the Congress to enact bold and comprehensive health care reform this year – based on these principles and a strong federal-state collaboration – and pledge our support as state legislators and allies in pursuit of guaranteed, high quality, affordable health care for all."
Senate campaign team
In February 2010, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced his campaign team for the U.S. Senate - including some of the same individuals who had known him since his first race for attorney general in 1990.
While Blumenthal has hired an extensive team, some political insiders say that the campaign manager for all of Blumenthal's campaigns has been Dick Blumenthal.
The team was as follows:
- Michael J. Cacace - campaign chairman. While not widely known to the general public, Cacace has led each of Blumenthal's campaigns for more than two decades. A graduate of Fordham, he founded a law firm in Stamford that bears his name. Connecticut Magazine has named him among the top lawyers in the state on real estate and zoning matters. A former president of the Italian Center of Stamford and president of the United Way of Stamford, he has held a wide variety of volunteer positions through the years.
- State Representative Jim Shapiro - vice chairman. A Stamford resident, Shapiro will oversee operations in the newly opened Stamford office and handle fundraising and legal issues.
- Justin Kronholm - director of political operations. A Hartford native, he will oversee the office in the capital city - mainly handling political issues. Kronholm is best known from his previous job as the state Democratic Party's executive director.
- Liz Donohue - deputy director of operations and political affairs. A Farmington resident, she will work with both Kronholm and Shapiro on a variety of issues. A former deputy policy director for the state House Democrats, Donohue has experience in direct-mail and holds an MPA from the Kennedy School at Harvard.
- Maura Downes - communications director. A former scheduler for John B. Larson's 1994 gubernatorial primary campaign, Downes also worked on Larson's first successful campaign for Congress - in which he defeated Miles Rapoport, Joe Suggs, and state Rep. James R. McCavanagh in a four-way Democratic primary in September 1998. Since then, she has worked for a wide variety of officials and candidates, including political consultant Roy Occhiogrosso.
- Ashley Codianni - deputy communications director. Working directly with Maura Downes, she previously worked on NBC's political desk in Washington, D.C. and served on msnbc.com's political page, "First Read."
- Scott Bates - senior policy advisor. Well known for his television and radio appearances, Bates is the vice president at the Washington-based Center for National Policy and has made numerous trips to hot spots overseas.
- Tom Kelley - director of new media. After working on Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, Kelley was the deputy new media director for the unsuccessful 2009 reelection campaign of New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine.
- Ivy Mackin - finance director. A former finance director for U.S. Rep. Joseph Courtney in the 2006 and 2008 campaigns, Mackin also served as a legislative assistant for Courtney in Connecticut and in Washington, D.C.
- Melissa Ozols - scheduler. A former member of the House Democratic press office, she also held a policy post under former House Speaker James Amann.
- Jeff Long - special assistant to the candidate, meaning that he will be Blumenthal's driver. He has had internships with the DCCC in the 2006 campaign and in the Office of the President under President Bill Clinton.
In addition to hiring these 11 individuals, Blumenthal returned to the same media and political consultant that has helped him for two decades, known as The Campaign Group. The Philadelphia-based operation has been involved in more than 40 winning campaigns for Congress and governor, including well-known Democrats Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania.
Labor support 2010
New Britain, Ct, Nov. 4, 2010 – A massive get-out-the-vote campaign targeted to Council 4 AFSCME members and their families made the difference in helping Dannel Malloy and other pro-worker candidates get elected in Connecticut, the union said today.
“Connecticut voters echoed what our union members were saying as they headed tothe polls: everyone deserves quality affordable health care, secure retirement and fair taxes,” Council 4 Executive Director Sal Luciano noted.
All of Council 4’s endorsed candidates prevailed in races for Governor (Malloy), Lt. Governor (Nancy Wyman), Attorney General (George Jepsen), Comptroller (Kevin Lembo), Treasurer (Denise Nappier and Secretary of State (Denise Merrill). Council 4- endorsed candidates also won their races for U.S. Senate (Richard Blumenthal) and Congress (John B. Larson, Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro, Jim Himes and Chris Murphy).
“We used people power to counteract corporate and wealthy donors pushing their anti-union agenda,” Luciano said.
“Right from the start of this campaign we had our boots on the ground, whether for Dan Malloy or Jim Himes or Chris Murphy. Connecticut staved off the anti-working family tide that swept the nation,” said Montalvo, who co-chairs Council 4’s political action committee.
Anti "speculator" bill
in April 2012 Ben Cardin joined a group of his Senate colleagues in sponsoring a bill, S. 2222, which "will give federal regulators immediate authority to invoke emergency powers to rein in speculators who are responsible for rapidly rising gasoline prices".
- There is broad agreement among energy experts and economists that speculators are one of the causes for the rapidly rising price of gas. Domestic oil production has risen to its highest level in a decade, oil supplies are greater today than they were three years ago and demand for oil in the United States is lower today than it was in 1997. Yet gas prices continue to soar.
- There is something wrong with this equation. There is no logical reason why gas prices should continue to rise if oil supplies are up and demand is down.
- The American Trucking Association, Delta Airlines, the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and other experts all say excessive oil speculation in the futures markets significantly increases crude oil and gasoline prices. A Feb. 27, 2012 article in Forbes Magazine cited a recent report by the investment bank Goldman Sachs pointing out that excessive oil speculation adds 56 cents to the price of a gallon of gas.
This "speculators" bill would set a 14-day deadline for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to take emergency steps to stop excessive speculation by Wall Street traders in the crude oil, gasoline and other energy futures markets. Also co-sponsoring the measure were: U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Bill Nelson (D-FL).
Equal Opportunity for All Act
Job-hunters are increasingly being asked to agree to allow potential employers to view their personal credit information, a development that Sen. Elizabeth Warren says is unfairly keeping people out of the job market who've had financial setbacks or have reports that contain inaccurate information.
December 17, 2013 Warren introduced The Equal Opportunity for All Act in Congress, which would outlaw such credit checks in many cases except in areas such as national security. Warren told reporters in a conference call sponsored by the Demos Foundation, a liberal think-tank, that the legislation was long overdue.
"This is about basic fairness," said the first-term legislator, adding that many people have had their credit records tarnished during the recent economic downturn. "There is little to no evidence of any correlation between job performance and a credit score."
Multimillion Dollar Corporate Bonuses Act
In 2013, U.S. Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the Stop Subsidizing Multimillion Dollar Corporate Bonuses Act, S. 1476, which would restrict the tax deductibility of executive pay for all employees of publicly traded corporations to $1 million and eliminate the exception for commission- and performance-based compensation. U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX,35) introduced a companion bill in the House, HR 3970, in January 2014]
The Corporate Accountability Coalition is an alliance of organizations whose work includes a focus on issues of corporate accountability and transparency, abuse of power by corporations, responsible business practices, and the rights of people.
Organizations include leftist groups the Center for Corporate Policy , the Institute for Policy Studies , CorpWatch, Corporate Accountability International , the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, and EarthRights International
- The report card is based on 17 actions (9 in the House and 8 in the Senate) that form a good litmus test of whether lawmakers are working for the narrow interests of large corporations or for all of us.
According to the Coalitions first-ever Congressional Report Card on Corporate Accountability issued in 2013, only two Representatives and four Senators scored higher than 87 percent. The top scores went to former Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) in the House and Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Al Franken (D-MN), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
2011 press conference
2013 office meeting
Social Security Anniversary
August 2013, Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans, Seniors West Hartford Activist Team co-host Senator Blumenthal at West Hartford Senior Center to celebrate Social Security Anniversary (78)! Senator Blumenthal pledged his continued support for Social Security and suggested that millionaires pay their fair share!
October 2016 membership meeting
In January 2013, three days before President Obama addressed immigration, Connecticut Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Rep. Jim Himes pledged their support for comprehensive reform at a community round table in Bridgeport hosted by Connecticut Students for a DREAM.
The "Immigration Reform: The Time is now!" event held at the United Congregational Church was also attended by State Senator Ayala and scores of community leaders and families.
"Telling your personal stories will change minds and you will change hearts," said Himes adding that the entire Connecticut delegation supports "the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship."
Murphy replied that "we're closer than ever to getting this done, because of the political power represented in packed rooms like this all across the country." He also warned against half-measures that create "a subclass of semi-documented immigrants."
Alberto Bernardez of SEIU 32BJ emphasized that comprehensive reform helps the whole economy. "We will get rid of the underground economy that drags everybody down," he said.
Sen. Blumenthal pledged to "continue working for a strong bi-partisan comprehensive immigration reform plan including the Dream Act with the support of groups like Connecticut Students for a DREAM."
People's Climate March
Labor and religious leaders were joined by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy at Union Station to urge residents to get on board the Climate Train for the People's Climate March in New York City on Sunday, September 21, 2014.
Action on climate change is a "moral and scientific and political imperative" said Blumenthal, who hopes the rally will make "an indisputable statement that the people of America, people of faith, working men and women know jobs and the environment are not in contradiction.”
"It is not often with one legislative issue that millions of jobs are created and millions of lives are saved," said Murphy. Using fuel cell production in Connecticut as an example he said, "If we create the demand for renewable energy, we will create jobs."
Lori Pelletier, executive secretary treasurer of CT AFL CIO said the 200,000 member organization is proud to be part of this historic event to raise awareness for safety, health, job security and environmental security.
Initiated by the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, the press conference highlighted mobilization by 13 labor organizations and several religious organizations. They are part of a large state-wide coalition of environmental, peace and community groups marching to insist the United Nations take immediate action on climate change.
Melodie Peters, president of AFT Connecticut said her members are going with the safety and future of the children they teach in mind. She thanked Governor Dannel Malloy and the senators for "advocacy and tenacity" with Metro North which won additional seats and discount fares for tickets purchased at www.CTClimateTrain.org.
The Roundtable was launched two years ago by CT AFL CIO and the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network to "address urgent concerns about climate change while creating good paying jobs in the state."
Other union endorsers include CT Education Association, SEIU State Council, State Council of Machinists, CSEA/SEIU Local 2100, CT Alliance for Retired Americans, Council 4 AFCME, CWA Local 1298, Unite Here CT, UAW Region 9A, UE Local 243 and 32 BJ SEIU.
Rally with Harp
Connecticut Communist Party USA leader Joelle Fishman was among those who attended a rally called by Sen Richard Blumenthal at New Haven City Hall with Mayor Toni Harp, surrounded by unions and immigrant groups. Sen Blumenthal announced he is the first Senator post-election to publicly call on the President, with respect, to take bold administrative action for relief from deportations to keep families together, help our economy and jump start Congress for comprehensive reform.
The context is the warning by Sen Mitch McConnell the day after elections that administrative action by the President would poison the well, and President Obama's statement that he would keep his pledge since Congress has not acted.
Sen. Blumenthal steps forward on the strength of the Connecticut elections in which Governor Dannel Malloy who became a national target for his pro-worker first term, embraced labor and other progressive issues, welcomed the President and first lady to the state, and won four more years.
"We knocked on many doors to elect the President, and now we are knocking on his door," was Blumenthal's message.
Backing Toni Harp
New Haven Mayor Toni Harp announced her bid for a second term at a campaign kickoff event on a Saturday in early May 2016..
The kickoff, held at Edgewood Park, was attended by community members as well as representatives of New Haven at the state and federal levels. Sen. Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73, Sen. Chris Murphy, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and state senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney each endorsed Harp, underscoring her commitment to bolstering youth services in the city. In her remarks, Harp spoke of the city’s progress in reducing crime, bettering public schools and creating new jobs as strengths of her administration. The campaign’s office will open on June 6 at 940 Whalley Ave.
“I’m excited. I’m joyful. And I’m proud to announce that I’m running for a second term for mayor,” Harp said.
Several city officials, including Hill alder Dolores Colon ’91, have noted that Harp is the leading candidate in the race, but Murphy said city residents should still vote on Nov. 3.
“This is as important as it gets,” he said. “It’s up to everyone here … to take nothing for granted in this election.”
President Barack Obama signed a bill June 2014, y honoring the 65th Infantry Regiment, a unit of soldiers largely from Puerto Rico known as Los Borinqueneers with the Congressional Gold Medal.
Retired Staff Sergeants Celestino Cordova and Joe Pickard, two veterans from Connecticut, were among dozens of Borinqueneers from all over the country who traveled to Washington, D.C. for the bill signing.
"It was a hugely joyous and powerfully moving moment for all of us," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Sen. Chris Murphy, among others, have advocated for the past year for legislative approval of the gold medal for the unit. The measure was approved last month by the U.S. House and the Senate.
Blumenthal said Obama met with the veterans privately a few minutes before the bill signing ceremony in the South Court Auditorium. Obama greeted the veterans in Spanish with, "Mucho gusto" and "Felicidades."
The president thanked the Borinqueneers for their service and handed each a presidential coin.
During the ceremony, Blumenthal said he stood on stage with several of the Borinqueneers while the president signed the bill into law.
Immigration action planning
Vowing not to be deterred by the Texas federal court ruling which temporarily stopped implementation of President Obama's immigration directives, families being hurt and their advocates gathered in New Haven City Hall to tell their stories to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and lay out ideas for an action plan.
Blumenthal, a lead proponent in the U.S. Senate to stop needless deportations separating families and in support of comprehensive immigration reform, issued a call to President Obama just after the November elections to take immediate executive action for relief, at a crowded press conference also held at New Haven City Hall.
In addition to the families affected, organizations at the roundtable included the director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice at the Center for Community Change, Unidad Latina en Acción, JUNTA for Progressive Action, the Hispanic Federation, and CT Students for a Dream.
Senator Blumenthal is supportive of several radical Muslim organizations.
CAIR-CT "FAITH IN FREEDOM" FUNDRAISING DINNER
MSA-CT is teaming up with CAIR-CT again for their annual fundraising dinner!
"I hope you can join us for this great event. Please fill out the form online to secure your table or ticket and show your generous support for CAIR!!!
The event will take place on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at the West Hartford Conference Center (Town Hall), 50 Main Street, West Hartford CT, and promises to be both inspiring and motivating.
The theme of our 9th annual banquet, Faith in Freedom, speaks to the resilience of our community and our continued involvement in the fight to uphold justice for all. Our keynote speaker will be attorney Norm Pattis, who will speak on “Islamophobia – 3 Faces of the New Racism”. We will also be joined by Imam Siraj Wahhaj from Masjid At-Taqwa in New York, Susan Campbell of the Hartford Courant, and attorney Hassan Shibly the Executive Director of CAIR in Florida. Other invited speakers include Senator Richard Blumenthal, Senator Chris Murphy, and Congressman John B. Larson.
“I admire the Council’s continued good work in bringing together community leaders, scholars, and activists to educate, promote mutual understanding, and defend civil liberties.” - Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) (September 2014).
“The Council’s work to uphold the value of justice and tolerance, both in Connecticut and across the country, is admirable and more critical than ever today as hate groups become emboldened and incidents of hate crimes increase.” (October 2017).
"Solidarity with Charlottesville"
August 14 2017 - CAIR - Connecticut community activists and organizers rally in solidarity with Charlottesville anti-racist protestors CAIR-CT community activist Fahd Syed and CAIR-CT community organizer Nariman Omar organized a rally in solidarity with the recent events that have taken place in Charlottesville, VA. CAIR national as well as CAIR-CT have condemned the white supremacist groups that met up and rallied in Charlottesville.
The rallies and vigils also drew the attention of Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
"The failure to denounce these hate groups, specifically, condones them and, in effect, encourages them," Blumenthal said.
Legislation against "hate crimes"
December 16, 2016, A lawmaker and local Muslim leaders gathered to hold a community discussion about what they called a surge in hate crimes.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal joined leaders from the Connecticut Muslim community to bring light to the nationwide trend.
The discussion was scheduled after the New Haven Islamic Center received a disturbing letter addressed to "the children of Satan" in which president-elect Donald Trump's name was invoked. The letter also threatened to "do to Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews."
There is a prayer service at every Friday afternoon at the Islamic Center of Connecticut in Windsor
Close to 600 Muslims are members at the mosque.
"The president-elect appointed national security advisor General Flynn who suggested a ban on Muslims into the country," Senator Richard Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal noted that he feels some of Trump's appointments will have a difficult time winning Senate approval.
Muslim residents said with recent threats, it's scary times for them.
Blumenthal said similar letters were sent to mosques throughout the country.
He said hate crimes have increased 10 percent over the last year. Sixty-seven percent of those crimes were against Muslims, according to the FBI.
Civil rights groups and advocates have reported a further spike in hate crimes and speech since last month's election.
Blumenthal plans to draft legislation to punish those guilty of hate crimes. It would implement tougher penalties on offenders.
"All of a sudden, wow. There are so many people who think like that. They hate others," Antar said.
Amina Masri said just this week her daughter, who was harassed in school because of her religion.
"The school took care of the issue but still I need to address it. It's a bigger issue," said Masri.
Muslim Alliance of Connecticut
Trump's Russia ties
Members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation joined demands for a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation of Russian influence on the 2016 election after President Donald Trump fired James Comey as FBI director Tuesday May 9, 2017.
“The need for a special prosecutor is now crystal clear,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who has called for a special prosecutor in the past. “President Trump has catastrophically compromised the FBI’s ongoing investigation of his own White House’s ties to Russia.”
In describing the gravity of Trump’s action, Blumenthal conjured memories of President Richard Nixon’s firing of Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.
“Not since Watergate have our legal systems been so threatened, and our faith in the independence and integrity of those systems so shaken,” Blumenthal said.
Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, which is conducting its own investigation into possible ties with Russia, said , “The White House cited Director Comey’s handling of the investigation into Secretary Clinton’s emails as the reason for the firing, but many will be rightly skeptical of that explanation.”
“Whatever the merits of Director Comey’s decisions, the investigated has just fired the investigator,” Himes said. “That should never have occurred prior to the full and complete insulation of the FBI’s investigation through the appointment of an independent prosecutor and other measures.”
“I will do everything in my power to ensure that this irresponsible move doesn’t end the necessary work law enforcement is conducting to discover the truth about Russia, its interference in our democracy and any and all who might be complicit,” Himes said.
Sen. Chris Murphy joined Blumenthal in calling for a special prosecutor Wednesday morning.
“No matter the mistakes that Director Comey has made, the timing of his firing clearly suggests that President Trump is trying to influence or upend the FBI’s investigation into his campaign’s possible collusion with a foreign government,” Murphy said Wednesday morning.
“The president’s continued refusal to support the appointment of a special prosecutor would confirm America’s worst fears about the motivation for Comey’s firing,” Murphy added.
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said the firing of Comey while he was “spearheading” the Russia investigation “does not pass the smell test.”
“It is painfully clear that we need an immediate and independent investigation of all aspects relating to Russia’s meddling in our election. We need a review that the American people can have faith in,” Courtney said.
Courtney said the fact that Trump’s action was recommended by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom he called “a political appointee who barely survived confirmation in the Senate,” raised more doubt about the motives behind the firing.
Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, said the White House has shown a “corrosive pattern of disinformation and obstruction” over the last four months, which has “impeded the public’s ability to determine the full truth” about possible Russian interference.
“The only solution that will restore public trust is for Congress to appoint a special prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation,” Esty said Wednesday morning.
Rep. John B. Larson, D-1st District, said demanding an independent investigation should not be a partisan issue.
“The firing of FBI Director James Comey should renew every American and every member of Congress’s call for an independent investigation into Russian involvement,” Larson said.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, said the White House must provide “an urgent and thorough explanation” for its decision, given the ongoing FBI investigation into Russian interference.
“These events further underscore why I have continued to demand an independent commission with subpoena power in order to get to the bottom of the Russia investigation,” DeLauro said Wednesday morning.
Marco Antonio Reyes Alvarez took sanctuary at the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church in New Haven August 2017 instead of deporting back to Ecuador where his life would be endangered and where he would be separated from his wife and children for at least ten years.
His case has placed national immigration policy under sharp attack.
To cheers at a press conference and large rally outside the church, Mayor Toni Harp exclaimed, “Just to be clear: New Haven will remain a sanctuary city. New Haven will be a welcoming city no matter where you used to live or where you came from.”
The mayor proclaimed, “Even if leaders in Washington do not do a good job of upholding the values that our nation is founded on, we will make sure that we uphold those values here and in cities across the country. We will assist Marco Reyes any way we can. We are not going to engage in helping deport law-abiding residents. We build bridges, not walls.”
Speaking from inside the gated church steps, Reyes thanked everyone and explained that he made the difficult decision to seek sanctuary as the last option to prevent permanent separation from his family.
“This morning I was supposed to be in the airport at 7:45. After speaking with my wife and children I made a different decision to seek help and stay here in this holy place,” he said. “I came to this country with a lot of dreams. Here I am. Here is my family. Here is my community. Here are all of us who want to live in a better world.”
The Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance (CIRA) and Unidad Latina en Accion (ULA), as well as the sanctuary movement of faith leaders, had been working closely with Reyes and his family for several weeks. They were prepared to help.
Standing with Reyes, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D.-Conn, said that Reyes never got the fair hearing he deserves. Blumenthal said his career in law enforcement taught him that “enforcement requires a sense of fairness, justice, and humanity. It requires discretion.”
“Our country is better than the policies pursued these past seven months which will tear apart families and rip apart communities,” said Blumenthal.
The Reyes family has lived in Meriden since 1997 with two children protected by DACA, and one a U.S. citizen.
After accidentally crossing the border into Canada during vacation in 2016, Reyes has reported regularly to ICE as required and has been granted stays of removal. This June, he was suddenly denied and ordered to leave the country by August 8.
When his new lawyer was not able to get a stay of deportation from ICE, Reyes and his family had a big decision to make. First and Summerfield Pastor Juhye Hahn was awakened by a call early that morning.
“When I got a call at 2:30 am saying that sanctuary was needed in four hours, we didn’t ask the legal situation. We didn’t ask where he was from. We simply responded. The Bible teaches us to welcome strangers and provide hospitality to all in need,” said Hahn.
The church is also home to the offices of the UNITE-HERE unions that represent workers at Yale University. Speaking on behalf of UNITE-HERE, Rev. Scott Marks led the crowd in a chant, “United we stand, divided we fall.”
“We stand together with brother Marco Reyes.” said Marks. “One thing the [Trump] administration would like is for us to be divided and separated. UNITE-HERE and New Haven Rising calls on Black people, calls on brown people, calls on all people to stand together. If we stand together we will win.”
Also addressing national immigration policy, Meriden Councilman Miguel Castro warned that “our humanitarian values and democracy are under attack… Marco Reyes and his family are victims of a national policy tearing families apart and threatening the core of our country’s fabric.” He called for everyone to stand together as a coalition in order to change those policies.
“Today, Connecticut has become an example for the country,” said Reyes’ pastor, Omar Herrera. I believe that we have awakened.”
“Marco’s case breaks our heart,” said Jesus Morales Santiago, on behalf of ULA. “Thousands of families in the nation are going through a similar situation. Our community is tired of being strangers in our own land. Many of us are descendants of Native Americans. Our ancestors stepped on these lands. We have the right to live here peacefully toward a better future.”
Representing CIRA, Alok Bhatt told the rally for Reyes that the courage he and his family are demonstrating “challenges us to be better advocates, to build a movement and stand up for everybody and change the policy. Justice is the justice we create.”
Single Payer Bill
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) unveiled Wednesday September 13, 2017 a new version of his plan to give everybody government-run health insurance, potentially opening a new chapter in the ongoing debate over how to make health care in the U.S. more affordable and available.
The plan calls for an overhaul of American health insurance with a souped-up, more generous version of Medicare replacing nearly all private health insurance ― and government exerting far more control over the cost of medical care. It would arguably be the most ambitious social welfare initiative in U.S. history, but Sanders told HuffPost in an interview Tuesday that he believes America is ready for it.
“The American people are catching on to where the Republicans are coming from, they see the limitations of the Affordable Care Act and they’re looking at the alternatives,” Sanders said. “And this is a rational alternative.”
That roster of co-sponsors includes a who’s-who list of potential Democratic presidential candidates for 2020, including Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Also backing the bill are Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Al Franken of Minnesota, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall of New Mexico, Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.
“Defend Our Immigrant Communities”
Local rallies to “Defend Our Immigrant Communities” took place across the country December 2017, in conjunction with a national action by immigrant students and their allies in the nation’s capital to demand passage of a Clean Dream Act before the end of the year.
In Connecticut, union and community organizations joined with immigrant groups and elected officials in Hartford and Stamford, including SEIU 32 BJ, UNITE HERE, Connecticut Students For a Dream, Make the Road, and the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance.
Over 200 rallied outside the Hartford Federal Courthouse, where the local office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is located. In Stamford, a rally was held in front of the Judicial Court House. In both cities, the mayors joined in and spoke out in support.
“A vote on any funding bill that does not include the Dream Act is a vote to deport thousands of immigrant young people. 122 immigrant youth are losing their DACA protections every day—our community can’t wait any longer,” said Camila Bortolleto, co-founder of Connecticut Students for a Dream who would receive the People’s World Amistad Award with her twin sister Carolina Bortolleto at a ceremony on December 9.
The rallies also supported immigrants across Connecticut targeted for deportation by the current administration, including several who are living in sanctuary in churches in New Haven, Meriden, and New Britain, refusing to be separated from their families.
“Congress must pass the Dream Act and come together for true bipartisan discussion on comprehensive immigration reform,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, adding, “I will continue this gravely important and crucial fight against the heartless, immoral, and unconscionable deportations and cruel decisions of this administration.”
“We have the case of Luis Barrios, Nuria Chavarria, Marco Reyes, the Ramos family, Nelson P, Mariana, how many more? How many more families are we going to have to advocate for?” asked Jesus Morales Sanchez, statewide organizer for the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance (CIRA). “They are part of the 11 million. It’s not just for 800,000 DACA recipients, not for a few hundred thousand TPS recipients, but for all of the immigrants endangered. We must work for all 11 million.”
Resolution to Honor Civil Rights Hero Fred Korematsu
Wyden and Merkley said the resolution honoring Korematsu’s work and advocacy of the civil rights and liberties of all people is timely, given the president’s executive order establishing a Muslim ban.
"Fred Korematsu’s brave advocacy for the civil rights of 120,000 Japanese Americans remains a timeless example of courage that resonates today and every day,“ Wyden said. “I am committed to fighting for the continued advance of civil rights he spent his life defending, and against those who would betray both the law and our history to impose an unconstitutional religious test on immigrants."
"Heroes like Fred Korematsu demonstrate the importance of fighting fiercely for our core American values, even when it is hard,” said Merkley. “His story reminds us that the time is always right to stand up for what is right. We must keep fighting for the freedom and equality that define our nation, and ensure that the Statue of Liberty continues to stand as a beacon of hope around the world."
The resolution is cosponsored by Senators Mazie Hirono, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Brian Schatz, Sherrod Brown, Sheldon Whitehouse, Maria Cantwell, Elizabeth Warren, Richard Blumenthal, Tim Kaine , Patty Murray, Chris Coons, and Dick Durbin.
A broad coalition of advocacy organizations support the resolution, including the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee & Defending Dissent Foundation, Demand Progress, Free Press Action Fund, Restore the Fourth, The Yemen Peace Project, and Fight for the Future.
SAALT Congressional Briefing on Hate Violence
March 23, 2017, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian civil rights organization, held a Congressional briefing to address the uptick in hate violence nationwide and highlight recommendations for change, as outlined in our recent report, “Power, Pain, Potential.” SAALT was joined by eight members of Congressional leadership and community partners in an urgent discussion on combatting the surge in hate violence aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern Americans across the country.
“As President Trump continues to test fire Muslim bans, this administration appears intent on intensifying efforts to ignore and provoke hate violence,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “The President has a sworn duty to protect the rights and safety of all Americans. Today’s briefing with Congressional leaders is an important step in making sure President Trump doesn’t escape his responsibilities.”
Our communities have experienced devastating violence in recent months, including deadly shootings in Kansas and Washington State, numerous arson attacks and vandalism of mosques, businesses, and homes nationwide, and mounting fear by our communities across the country.
“SAALT stands ready to work with Congressional leaders to fight hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric impacting our communities across the country,” stated Ms. Raghunathan. “South Asian Americans are the most rapidly growing demographic group, and we are committed to policies at all levels that reinforce the place our communities have in our nation now and as we continue to grow.”
Member Co-Sponsors of the briefing included: Congressmembers Keith Ellison, Andre Carson; Raul Grijalva; Ami Bera; Grace Meng; Mark Takano; Pramila Jayapal; Raja Krishnamoorthi; Ro Khanna. Judy Chu also attended.
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- , Posted on March 23, 2017 by SAALTSAALT Organizes Congressional Briefing on Hate Violence