Una desafortunada selección

If Governor David Paterson wanted to deliver a slap to immigrant New Yorkers, he effectively did so with his appointment yesterday of Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand.The congresswoman will replace Hillary Rodham Clinton as New York’s junior senator. In Clinton, New York had both a defender of women’s rights and an advocate of humane, sensible immigration reform. But Paterson chose to play politics by selecting an upstate representative who could shore up his support in that region—at the expense of immigrants.Gillibrand’s anti-immigrant record speaks for itself: she has emphasized an enforcement approach to immigration; called for deputizing local police to perform federal immigration duties; and passed legislation that would bar employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers from receiving federal contracts. While President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have long supported a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, Gillibrand has pronounced that she is “firmly against providing amnesty to illegal immigrants.”Yesterday, Gillibrand was praised for supporting women’s reproductive rights. But her position on immigration leaves Latina immigrants in the shadows. Women living in fear because of status issues are less likely to get the help they need.The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health spends a lot of time trying to get legislators to understand this. For many Latinas, explains policy director Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, immigration status issues are a part of their lives and impact their health decisions. Gillibrand’s position on immigration is not the only disturbing issue.New Yorkers know too well the tragic consequences of gun violence. Yet Gillibrand has blocked gun control efforts New York needs a senator who will fight to reduce violence and protect vulnerable families. Gillibrand has a lot to prove to Latinos, immigrants and their advocates. And so does Paterson.

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