Open Letter to Long Island Democrats and State Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs

Make the Road Action
3 min readJun 13, 2019

An open letter to Long Island Democrats and Democratic State Chairman Jay Jacobs:

This year, the Democratic establishment has advanced a narrative that passing long fought-for, common sense, progressive pieces of legislation will somehow threaten the future Democratic Senate majority. This has been particularly true regarding efforts to restore access to drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants and reforming the state’s cruel and outdated criminal legal system that has dehumanized people of color in the state, and destroyed individuals, families, and communities. As criminal justice reform organizations, immigrant rights groups, and allies that have actively engaged constituents in the suburbs and across the state for years, and whose members helped usher in the New York Blue Wave of 2018, we reject this backward, and frankly inaccurate, thinking.

It is time to pass Green light NY and restore access to driver’s licenses to all qualified New York drivers, regardless of immigration status. And it is time to pass sweeping reforms to our criminal legal system, by passing: the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) to end racially biased arrests and repair harms by sealing records and reinvesting tax dollars into communities hit hardest by the War on Drugs; the Humane Alternatives to Long Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act to end state-sanctioned human rights abuses that are tantamount to torture; and ensuring due process and the presumption of innocece, by planning for the next phase of bail reform by ensuring strong implementation of the new law, stopping any efforts to roll back the historic progress on bail reform that has already been achieved, and making good on the commitment to end race- and wealth-based jailing.

We actively engage with members of our communities every day. New Yorkers are clamoring for an end to mass incarceration that devastates Black and Brown communities. And, when you talk with voters from Long Island, Westchester, and across this state about the need to make sure that all drivers on the road have gone through the process to secure a license — particularly given the public safety and economic benefits of this policy — they agree. As representatives, it’s your responsibility to engage in these conversations and work with our communities to move forward.

Criminal justice reform activists from across the state, including Long Island, have maintained a constant presence in Albany this legislative session.

Moreover, we strongly disagree with Party leaders who have been stoking fear born of a false equivalency between the 2010 elections and the upcoming 2020 elections to stifle progress. The 2020 election is not comparable to the 2010 election. Whereas 2010 was a midterm year with Tea Party-fueled GOP enthusiasm and depressed Democratic turnout, 2020 will a Presidential election year, where turnout will be high and voter enthusiasm high.

More importantly, we stand united in the belief that this is a critical moment in our country’s history, one that requires moral clarity and bold action by our state’s leaders. Without the courage to take action, how can we expect the voters who we registered, educated and mobilized in 2018 to continue to support you in the future?

Signed,

Bend the Arc Jewish Action: New York

Citizen Action of New York

Empire State Indivisible

Long Island Progressive Coalition

Make the Road Action

New York State Immigrant Action Fund

New York Communities for Change

True Blue NY

VOCAL-NY Action Fund

Working Families Party

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Make the Road Action

Building political power rooted in working class Latino communities. @MaketheRoadAct