Members of 32BJ and immigration activists said Rep. Dan Donovan heard them but isn’t listening to them on immigration.
The heat toward the congressman comes after he defended Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents detaining pizza delivery man Palo Villavicencio earlier this month. Villavicencio delivered pizza to the Fort Hamilton military base in Brooklyn and couldn’t provide identification when asked by an officer. Various restaurants in Brooklyn boycotted the base for its actions and lawmakers and activists have championed his cause. ICE granted Villavicencio a temporary stay until July 20.
“This is just more insanity,” said Donovan in a statement earlier this month. “Liberal activists are attacking ICE agents and military personnel for following the law in detaining an immigrant reportedly here illegally.”
Villavicencio’s story is one of many involving immigrants, undocumented and otherwise, being detained by ICE agents. After a policy implemented by the current White House regime, immigrants crossing the border from Mexico are being separated from their children at the border and feeling the ire of immigration activists and legislative officials. None of the controversy seemed to bother Donovan.
“If Democrats would actually come to the table and support border security funding, then these types of incidents wouldn’t happen in the future,” stated Donovan. “That’s why I supported $10 billion for President Trump’s border wall and I’m working with him to reform our broken immigration system.”
32BJ SEIU President Héctor Figueroa took Donovan to task for endorsing treatment of immigrants that he feels is unjust.
“Every day, the Trump administration steps up even further its cruel treatment of immigrant families, whether it’s separating parents from children after a dangerous trip to the U.S. border, or denying the possibility of asylum to victims of domestic violence,” said Figueroa in a statement. “Donovan has an opportunity, and a responsibility, to take a true leadership position to help his constituents who have contributed so much to his district and many of our U.S. communities. Yet, he has failed to do so again.”
This week, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote a letter to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence condemning the treatment of immigrant families at the border. “I have already expressed my grave concerns with this administration’s anti-immigrant tactics, including when I requested the Department of Homeland Security acting inspector general to investigate their discriminatory tactics in our state and called on him to tell us what his office is doing about the assault on immigrant families along the border,” he wrote in the letter.
Perla Canales, a 32BJ member who works as a cleaner at the Staten Island Mall and is one of Donovan’s constituents, pointed out how he talked to Donovan directly and he didn’t seem to care.
“Over the past year, I have met half a dozen times with Rep. Donovan, here in New York and in Washington, D.C. I’ve told him my story, how having TPS has allowed me to live and work here legally for almost 20 years, and how losing this status would devastate my family here and in Honduras,” said Canales, in a statement. “He has always been very polite and told me and other immigrant constituents that he sympathizes with us, but then he sends us on our way without doing anything. He cannot put us off any longer—he has to act now.”
Donovan is currently battling his primary opponent, former Rep. Michael Grimm, with verbal bombs lobbied via debates. During a recent showdown, Grimm accused Donovan of seeking a presidential pardon from President Donald Trump. No matter what happens on Primary Day, Figueroa hopes a challenger ends Donovan’s run in Washington, D.C.
“Everyone has agreed that the solution to this issue must be bipartisan—now it’s time for Congress members like Donovan to live up to that belief,” stated Figeuroa. “If not, they have their constituents to answer to in November.”