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Council taps $265K for immigrant groups

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U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and City Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-Corona) have occasionally been on opposite sides of Queens Democratic Party politics. Monserrate has frequently run candidates against contenders favored by the Queens Democratic Party, now chaired by Crowley.But they both appeared along with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) and Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) at the Asociacion Tepeyac de New York's Corona offices at 103-04 39th Ave. Friday to announce $265,000 in Council funding for eight organizations serving Corona, Jackson Heights and Elmhurst residents.The Council allocated $9.2 million from the 2007 budget as part of its annual Immigrant Opportunities Initiative to support 100 organizations. The six-year-old program was first funded in 2002 when the Council spent $2.4 million on 40 projects.Monserrate's 21st Council District has the largest number of foreign-born residents in the state, he said, and received $265,000 from the Council, the highest level in a four-tier system used to distribute the funds.The money was spread between eight organizations, covering a wide variety of immigrant services. The money in each district was apportioned by its own City Council member with input from the Council, Monserrate said.The organizations receiving funding were: Jackson Heights-Elmhurst Kehillah; New Immigrant Community Empowerment; Legal Aid Latino Action Center; City University School of Law Foundation's Immigrant Initiatives Project; Asociacion Tepeyac de New York and the New York Immigration Coalition, with each of these receiving $25,000. In addition, LaGuardia Community College received $80,000 and the Legal Aide Society received $35,000 for civil immigration issues.The underlying political rivalry had its most recent flareup when Monserrate challenged and nearly unseated state Sen. John Sabini (D-Jackson Heights) in the September primary.Crowley, who has been an outspoken supporter of efforts to legalize many of the 12 million residents estimated to be in the country illegally, said he attended the event in Corona not for political reasons but because immigration is a critical federal and local issue."This cuts through the politics. This is about delivering for groups we both have a mutual interest in," he said.Monserrate brushed off political questions, focusing his comments on the funds coming to his district."The better and quicker we include immigrants, the more it benefits our city and our society," Monserrate said. "This is a win-win."Maria Aguilar, a mother of four who lives in Corona, volunteers for the Tepeyac. The center, which teaches English, computer skills, also provides after-school services for one of her children."This helps a lot for mothers who work all day," said Aguilar, who works as a housekeeper.Reach reporter Adam Pincus by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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