GROWING UP in Guyana, South America, Dhanpaul Narine was encouraged by his paternal grandfather, a priest, to live a life of giving to his community. "He ingrained the idea of selfless service in me," Narine said. "That was his motto. You do things and do not expect anything, even praise, in return." Narine took the teaching of his grandfather, Pandit Balkaran Narine, to heart. Since immigrating to New York City in 1988 - after earning a public policy doctorate from the London School of Economics - the Richmond Hill, Queens, resident has: . Helped form Guyana Watch, a program that yearly sends medical supplies to be distributed to the poor in his native country. . Helped found the annual Phagwah Parade, which in March marked the 17th year that thousands of people have joined in the annual celebration of spring. Held this year in Stone Oval Park, the parade is one of the largest outside India to mark that Hindu holiday. . Founded the Peace March - held each September along Liberty Ave., the main street through Richmond Hill - to commemorate the work of peace activists such as Mother Teresa and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. . Organized an International Ramayana Conference at York College, where scholars from around the world discussed "Ramayana," an epic poem that is the basis of much of Indian art, religion and literature. . Organized a community meeting on basement conversions after the city Buildings Department targeted the community, saying basements had been converted to living spaces illegally. . Made an unsuccessful run for City Council last year. . Helped form Federation of Hindu Temples, a Queens group that now has more than 40 member organizations. And Narine, who has taught at Public School 9, the Walter Reed School in Maspeth, Queens, since 1989, is at it again. This month, he joined with the New York Coalition for Immigration Rights to host an immigration rally and march at Tropical Gardens, 120-05 Atlantic Ave., to answer Continue Reading

Federal appeals court refuses to lift temporary block on Obama’s immigration relief proposals

A federal appeals court refused Tuesday to lift a temporary block on President Obama’s immigration-relief proposals, leaving millions of undocumented immigrants in limbo. Obama’s executive action — which would give work permits to the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and expand an earlier program — has been temporarily on hold since February, after Texas and 25 other states filed suit, saying the move was unconstitutional. The U.S. Justice Department asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to allow the government to move forward with the program during a potentially lengthy court battle. The administration said the injunction blocking the programs undermines the federal government’s authority over immigration enforcement. However, a panel of judges ruled 2-1 that the block should remain while the matter is argued in court. The judges agreed with Texas’ argument that issuing driver’s licenses to immigrants who qualify through the new programs would be a hardship. “Because the government is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its appeal of the injunction, we deny the motion for stay and the request to narrow the scope of the injunction,” wrote 5th Circuit Judge Jerry Smith. A wider appeal is still pending — arguments begin in June in the same court, but may be before a different panel of judges. New York City advocates said they remain confident the President’s initiatives will ultimately move forward. “It obviously is a reminder that the President’s administrative relief has unfortunately become a political football,” said Stephen Choi, executive director of umbrella group the New York Immigration Coalition. “We do expect that at the end of the day the law is on our side,” he said. ON A MOBILE DEVICE? WATCH THE VIDEO HERE. Continue Reading

‘Haters’ mobilized to block President Obama’s executive orders halting the deportation of millions of immigrants

Will it ever end? Will this nation of immigrants someday give them the place they deserve as builders, doctors, artists, soldiers, entrepreneurs and, more important, as the labor force that keeps the economy moving ahead for the benefit of the whole country? It is tiresome — and terrifying — to see how far haters of immigrants are willing to go. Their most recent obstruction to any and all rational immigration measures — the lawsuit by 26 conservative governors to kill President Obama’s executive actions — is not only disgraceful but a cruel blow to the 5 million deserving immigrants the President's executive decision would help. As it is well known by now, earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas issued a preliminary injunction that temporarily stops Obama’s Deferred Action for Parental Responsibility (DAPA) executive order. The federal government has vowed to appeal the ruling. The reaction of New York’s immigration community has been swift and irate. “Once again, right-wing Republicans and their judicial appointees are playing politics with the lives of hard working people. This delay in our fight for a more equitable immigration process is only temporary. However, we know that justice delayed is justice denied,” María Castañeda, secretary-treasurer, and Estela Vázquez, executive vice president, of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East said in a joint statement. “As the largest healthcare union in the nation, representing over 400,000 nurses and caregivers, many of whom are immigrants, we vow to hold the elected officials who influenced (the federal court’s) decision responsible for their actions.” As Juan Cartagena, president and general counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF, has explained, the decision was arrived at on procedural issues and on the court’s acknowledgement of the states’ arguments that the costs of Continue Reading

Bon appetit, Fido: Albany legislators vote to authorize dogs in restaurants while people in apartments wait for action

Hard-nosed negotiations in the state Legislature have produced a breakthrough: From now on, restaurants may allow dogs to join their owners in outside eating areas. Nothing more vividly illustrates the feckless management of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan than the trivialities they churn through their chambers while dropping the ball on matters of vital importance to millions of New Yorkers. So the pols assure that Fido can dine in style — even as they allow decades-old rent laws affecting 2 million New York City tenants to expire for lack of agreement on how to renew them. So they recognize “actively managed log-grown woodland mushrooms” as an agricultural crop — even as they remain paralyzed on extending mayoral control of the city schools, without which chaos will reign over the classrooms of 1.1 million students. And so they designate the Herkimer diamond as the official state mineral — even as they fail to act on tax breaks that are crucial to Mayor de Blasio’s plan for adding much-needed affordable housing in the five boroughs. Wednesday, the Senate even engaged in a lengthy colloquy on whether to designate the wood frog as the state’s official amphibian. The measure passed narrowly. The only agreement of consequence is a compromise on Gov. Cuomo’s “yes means yes” law to combat sexual assault on college campuses. Their biggest failure is on rent. Heastie and the Assembly Democrats are unrealistically trying to roll back sensible reforms of years past, while Flanagan’s landlord-friendly Republicans turn a blind eye to weaknesses that incentivize landlord harassment. Smartly, Cuomo has tried to broker a horse trade that would combine stronger rent laws with a tax credit in support of private-school scholarships, a priority for the Senate GOP. But Heastie refuses approve a tax credit that the teachers unions hate, Continue Reading

Immigrants rally over stall in Obama’s Deferred Action work permit program

The federal government was initially set to start accepting applications Tuesday for the President’s executive action granting work permits to undocumented parents of U.S. citizens. Instead, the reforms are temporarily shelved amid a court battle — and hundreds of immigrants rallied in lower Manhattan, calling for an end to the delay. “I live for my kids and grandkids,” said Bushwick, Brooklyn, babysitter Magdalena Brito, 70, who fears being deported to her native Ecuador away from her family. DEFERRED ACTION CANDIDATES QUALIFY EVEN WITHOUT PAYING TAXES Brito said she was filled with “such happiness” when she first heard about the program, called Deferred Action for Parental Accountability or DAPA, and was devastated when a Texas federal judge blocked it. She’s still hopeful it will go forward. IMMIGRANTS, BEWARE OF RIPOFF ARTISTS “Hope is the last thing to die,” Brito said at the protest, outside immigration offices at 26 Federal Plaza. The Obama administration has asked the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to allow the program to go ahead during the legal challenge, but the court has not yet ruled on the matter. Experts say it could take six months to a year before a final decision is made. The Manhattan rally — organized by a wide number of immigrant and labor groups, including Make the Road New York, La Fuente and the New York Immigration Coalition — was one of dozens of protests held across the country. Protesters chanted “What do we want? DAPA! When? Now!” Nearby, a half-dozen counter protesters held up signs bearing such messages as “Deport illegals” and “Hispanics against illegal aliens.” Continue Reading

Police lift car blocking Philadelphia funeral procession for slain Officer Robert Wilson

When it came to a fallen Philadelphia hero's funeral Sunday, nothing could get in the way — especially an illegally parked car. More than a dozen police officers banded together to not roll but lift the vehicle, just before the funeral procession began for slain seven-year police officer, Robert Wilson III. The touching moment, photographed on a cold, gloomy day within the city of Brotherly Love, was something done without a second thought, as one police corporal told NBC Philadelphia. "I just asked some guys in line for a hand," Springfield Township Corporal Shawn Hart said of his request. "They came over and we moved it to the side. The procession was able to get past and that was it." Hart said a tow truck had been called for the vehicle but there was concern that it wouldn't get there in time. The vehicle's owner made a quick appearance moments later, he said, and was able to completely move it just before the 30-year-old's casket arrived. Wilson, who died in a courageous March 5 gun battle with a pair of thugs trying to rob a GameStop store, was mourned by thousands the previous day before buried in Fernwood Cemetery in Lansdowne. "Robert redefined what valor means, in my mind," police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said Saturday. The hero officer was in the store trying to buy a video game for one of his two sons as a reward for his good grades when the two thieves entered with guns drawn, police said. Wilson made his presence known to the two men while moving away from the counter to draw the suspects' gunfire away from innocent bystanders. He then returned fire, Ramsey said. More than 50 shots were fired during the fierce gun battle, investigators said. "He never stopped until that fatal round was fired," Ramsey told the assembled crowd, many of whom were law enforcement officers from across the country whose dress uniforms formed patterns of blues and tans inside Continue Reading

Obama will ‘walk away’ from Iran nuclear talks if deal doesn’t block path to weapon

WASHINGTON — President Obama said he will "walk away" from a nuclear deal with Iran if it does not block Tehran's path to a nuclear weapon. Obama's comments came at a news conference with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff where he also reflected on the series of victories he had last week. His comments on Iran follow an announcement by diplomats in Vienna that talks will continue past a Tuesday night deadline. COUNTING THE DANGERS IN OBAMA'S APPROACH TO THE NUCLEAR DEAL Obama said a framework agreement reached this year would meet his goals, but said he told Secretary of State Kerry and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz not to agree to a final deal that limits international inspectors' access to Iran's nuclear facilities. "I will walk away from negotiations if in fact it's a bad deal," Obama said. Disagreements remain over how fast the West will remove economic sanctions on Iran. Iran wants immediate removal of sanctions. The U.S. and allies want a gradual roll-back. At home, Obama faces attacks from Republicans and some Democrats who argue the administration is making too many concessions in talks. Obama declined to say if he trusts Iran's leaders. "There are deep-seated disagreements and divisions between the United States and Iran and those aren't going to go away overnight," he said. Obama played down his triumphs last week — when he won a historic series of victories, with Congress passing a bill easing action on free trade legislation and the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the White House and allies on Obamacare and gay marriage. The President also gave a powerful eulogy Friday for victims of the church massacre in Charleston, S.C. Obama called the week "simply a culmination of a lot of work that's been done since I came into office." "My best week, I will tell you, was marrying Michelle. Malia and Sasha being born Continue Reading

Disabled woman given $10K by Fabco shoe store after she was blocked over fear of her wheelchair dirtying carpet

A Fabco shoe store in Brooklyn has agreed to pay $10,000 to a disabled woman who was barred from entering by an employee who feared the motorized wheelchair might soil the carpet, Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch announced Tuesday. The feds took up the cause for Amal Mohamed after she complained about the way she was treated at the store on 86th St. in Bensonhurst where she had gone in May 2013 to buy shoes for herself and her two daughters. An employee told Mohamed that the wheels of the wheelchair were dirty and she did not have a vacuum to clean the carpet, according to the investigation by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevan Cleary. The employee even tried to physically eject Mohamed from the store, but was only prevented from doing so because the wheelchair was too heavy to be moved, authorities said. "Instead of treating Mrs. Mohamed like any other customer, Fabco violated her rights under the American with Disabilities Act," Lynch said. "This settlement serves notice that store owners who fail to respect the rights of individuals with disabilities will be held accountable for their actions.” In addition to the monetary payment to settle the lawsuit, Fabco has agreed to post signs in each of its 51 shoe stores in the metropolitan area welcoming people with disabilities to shop there. The company also will train all of its store managers about their obligations under the federal law that prohibits discrimination against the disabled. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

15 dangerous criminals allowed to stay in US through Obama’s immigration executive action

WASHINGTON — Federal agents in a sweep targeting the most dangerous criminal immigrants arrested 15 people who have been allowed to remain in the U.S. under President Barack Obama's executive action intended to protect children who came to the U.S. years ago with their parents, The Associated Press has learned. Fourteen of the 15 had been convicted of a crime, the Homeland Security Department confirmed late Thursday. In at least one case, the Obama administration renewed the protective status for a young immigrant after that person's conviction in a drug case, a U.S. official briefed on the arrests said. One of the eligibility requirements for the program is that immigrants not have a criminal history. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to discuss the matter by name. It was not immediately clear when 13 of the immigrants were convicted or what their crimes were. They were arrested by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. The answers to those questions could undermine the integrity of the government's program, since eligibility is reserved for ambitious, young immigrants enrolled in school or who graduated and who would benefit American society. None of the names of the immigrants was disclosed. One of the young immigrants arrested hadn't been convicted of a crime, but was arrested after being found armed with a gun, the official said. The Homeland Security department said eight other people arrested during the sweep had received the protective status at one point, including three who had it revoked. The department did not provide additional details. Under the program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, more than 675,000 young immigrants since August 2012 have been granted a work permit and reprieve from deportation. "With few fraud detection measures and effective background checks in place, it's no surprise that ICE arrested over a dozen DACA recipients Continue Reading

New Jersey Gov. Christie signs onto brief opposing Obama’s executive action on immigration

NEWARK, N.J. - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has repeatedly refused to outline his positions on the nation's immigration system, has quietly signed onto an amicus brief opposing President Obama's executive action on immigration. The brief filed Monday by New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana and South Dakota urges an appeals court to uphold a preliminary injunction blocking action that could spare millions of people who are in the U.S. illegally from deportation. The states involved say moving forward with the programs would cause them ``irreparable injuries.'' ``Washington's attempt to turn this into a policy debate only underscores the dearth of legal arguments to support Defendants' unilateral efforts to hand out government benefits in violation of federal law,'' they wrote. Christie, who is weighing a run for president, has been generally critical of President Barack Obama's immigration policies, but has refused to answer questions about how he would approach the issue. A spokesman for his office confirmed New Jersey's actions, but declined to comment Wednesday. Twenty-six states, led by Texas, joined to challenge Obama's actions as unconstitutional, arguing the policies would force them to invest more in law enforcement, health care and education. Continue Reading