Daniel Dromm: NYC Council's New Immigration Chair

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[New York: Eye On City Council]

It seems counterintuitive at first.

A gay, white US-born male appointed the new chair of the New York City Council Committee on Immigration. But then you hear him talk and members of the immigrant community speak about him, and it all falls into place. You come away confident the committee is in excellent hands and eager to see where this energetic freshman Council Member from Queens will take it.

For Daniel Dromm may be a newcomer to the City Council, but he’s certainly not new to the fight for immigrant rights – including in the political club he himself founded, the New Visions Democratic Club. In 2003, Monzur Chowdhury was nominated for membership to the club’s board, but debate ensued because Chowdhury was not yet a citizen and, therefore, not a registered Democrat. Dromm put forth an amendment to change the club’s constitution to allow anyone who subscribes to the principles of the Democratic Party to serve on its board. This opened the door for many immigrants to participate in the democratic process.

Furthermore, Dromm fought hard to get the first Ecuadorian-born and Dominican-born women elected to the Civil Court. He was instrumental in Jose Peralta, a first generation American, being elected to the New York State Assembly.

When Edgar Garzon, a Colombian born naturalized American, was killed in a brutal antigay attack, Dromm worked closely with Congressman Joseph Crowley to ensure that Edgar’s parents didn’t lose their recently acquired permanent resident status. He became a leader in the struggle to get hate crimes legislation passed in the NYS Legislature and also participated in numerous immigration marches, protests and rallies over the years because he has a core belief that all people are created equal.

Flanked by a virtual United Nations of individuals and organizations representing immigrants from Asia, South Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, diverse Spanish speaking countries and more, Dromm, who has Irish roots and speaks fluent Spanish, explained at a Queens press conference, "What immigrants want is what all New Yorkers want: the right to pursue happiness and freedom in our great land. Families should not be divided, and workers should not be abused. Health care is a human right, and all children, regardless of their immigration status, deserve a quality education.”

As Dromm addressed the press and later spoke with community residents, his natural charisma and rapport with his immigrant constituents were evident. He is clearly a truly nice man, respectful and caring in his interactions with others.

Yet, have no doubt he is a warrior who will put everything on the line for immigrant New Yorkers. “As an openly gay man, I have been subjected to discrimination my whole life, and I know how to fight back,” he declared. “People threatened to take away my livelihood as a schoolteacher and I was once refused housing because of my sexual orientation. I have seen first hand the effects hate crimes have on immigrant communities. I will rely on my own experiences to guide me in my work because, even today, many immigrants experience what I went through.”

Among the priorities that Dromm outlined for the Immigration Committee are relieving school overcrowding in communities with large immigrant populations, expanding funding of English-as-a-Second Language programs, improving health care access for immigrants, opening a jobs and community center, improving immigrant housing conditions, supporting federal legislation for the DREAM Act and stressing the need for comprehensive federal immigration reform. As to submitting legislation, he plans to work closely with the City’s diverse immigrant communities, taking his cue from them regarding what they believe they need and how he can best represent them.

“I pledge to you today that, as chair of the Immigration Committee, I will fight to make sure that all New Yorkers get their fair share, no matter what their immigration status,” Council Member Dromm concluded. “It doesn’t matter where you come from or how you got here. What matters is where we are going together.”

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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