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Coronavirus Update: May 23, 2020

May 23, 2020
Washington Review

This week, I worked on policies addressing immigration, Title IX, the National Guard, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. I continue to work with my colleagues as the effects of this unprecedented global pandemic emerge.

We have raised our community’s 2020 Census self-response rate to 48.9%. But, we are still behind New Jersey at 61% and the country at 59%. Federal funding is allocated based on this data and times of crisis have revealed just how important this data is in our government’s emergency response.

If you have not already done so, take 10 minutes to respond online at 2020census.gov or by phone at 844-330-2020.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – I sent a letter to the Acting Director of ICE and the Acting Homeland Security Secretary raising alarm and detailing my concerns over the deportation of Héctor García Mendoza in apparent violation of a court order preventing his removal. After being a named plaintiff in a class action lawsuit demanding the immediate release of individuals due to unsafe conditions, Mr. García Mendoza was moved from the Elizabeth, New Jersey facility. It is appalling that his location was not shared with his attorneys and ICE has claimed, without evidence, that he was removed to Mexico prior to the judicial order. Deliberate actions to violate the rights of Mr. García Mendoza cannot stand and ICE cannot carry on with a lack of transparency or unwillingness to communicate. I was joined by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), and 15 of our House Democratic colleagues.

Additionally, after reports have emerged of a new family separation policy in three ICE detention centers, my colleagues and I requested immediate transparency on the issue. The Administration must not be allowed to implement inhumane practices, especially in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic. The use of family separation as a tactic to deter asylum is illegal and unethical. I will continue to monitor this situation.

Title IX – On May 6, 2020, Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education announced update regulations for Title IX, a federal statute that prohibits sex discrimination and sexual violence in higher education. A number of these new guidelines weaken protections for survivors and make it harder for victims to pursue justice. I support an immediate rescission of these updates and joined my colleagues in writing to Secretary DeVos. Any rulemaking that allows the intimidation of survivors or narrows the accountability of perpetrators cannot stand.

Social Security – Certain beneficiary groups such as Social Security, Railroad Retirement Board, SSI, and Veteran benefit recipients are typically not required to file tax returns. However, as the IRS was distributing individual relief payments, these groups were given only a few days’ time to provide information on eligible dependents in order to receive the additional payment amounts for these individuals. Those that were unable to provide the required information in time will not receive those additional payments until 2021. In a time of immense economic uncertainty, Americans cannot face additional barriers to critical relief, especially in our most vulnerable populations. I joined with my colleagues in directing the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the Social Security Administration Commissioner to work quickly to resolve this issue and honor the original intent of the CARES Act by ensuring that these payments are made quickly, this year.

National Guard – My colleagues in the New Jersey congressional delegation and I asked the Trump Administration to extend to deployment of the New Jersey National Guard beyond its current June 24th deadline. As our state continues to deal with new cases, we still need the help of these men and women and they deserve the early retirement credit and education benefits afforded to them.

Port Authority – I support additional federal assistance for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and joined my House colleagues in requesting a further $3 billion in future stimulus packages. Decreased ridership and increasing operational costs have created unprecedented burdens for the Porth Authority and our region cannot fully function without it.

Please know that I will continue working to get the 8th District the resources it needs. If you have questions or need assistance please call my Washington, D.C. office at (202)-225-7919 and follow instructions to be connected to my staff or send an email to NJ8inquiries@mail.house.gov. Together we can get through this.