The Opportunity to Earn Legal Status for Undocumented Immigrants, Establishing a Fair Path to Citizenship and Securing America’s Borders
As a first generation U.S. citizen and a child of immigrants, I strongly support comprehensive immigration reform. The political posturing and gamesmanship in Washington (which usually accompanies any issue that test our country’s morality) must end now. I value families, and I believe that families should not be torn apart because of failed and mismanaged immigration policies. The time is now for comprehensive immigration reform.
Immigrants have been living and working in America, mostly in the shadows, for fear of deportation. Until the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, young undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children were going to school and making friends, while forced to hide the fact that they are undocumented.
I strongly support comprehensive immigration reform which will give undocumented immigrants an opportunity to earn legal status. Many of these individuals have children who are American citizens. I support granting an opportunity for these fellow human beings to earn lawful permanent resident status, coupled with a fair path to U.S. citizenship. I believe the two issues are inseparable because awarding legal status without a path to citizenship does nothing more than create a legal underclass that has no hopes for upward social mobility, equal treatment or opportunity in America.
Republicans have attempted to increase the number of guest workers in the United States by relaxing caps on H1B and construction visas while American workers in the United States are unemployed. We cannot allow more workers from abroad to be granted visa’s while at the same time denying immigrants in the United States the opportunity to become citizens.
We must allow these people who have worked here, lived here, bought goods here, and paid taxes here to become full contributors with a path towards earning citizenship. This will help to start more small businesses, encourage economic activity, increase tax revenue and create more jobs. The political procrastination in Washington must stop, and with your help we will make comprehensive immigration reform a priority and finally get it done.
Moving Forward with Refining Reforms, Not Obsessing Over Repeal.
Access to affordable healthcare is a fundamental human right. The 2010 reform to healthcare in America was a major step in the right direction, but progress is not perfection. Some of the most important reforms made under the ACA include:
- Women will no longer have to pay more than men for the same insurance policies
- Insurance companies can no longer drop women because they get sick or have a c-section
- Prenatal care, screenings and vaccinations for women with no annual or lifetime caps
- Under the ACA, women are guaranteed access to preventative services like mammograms and cervical cancer screening with no deductibles or copays
- Prescription drug costs have been slashed by half, saving seniors thousands on brand name drugs as the prescription drug coverage gap, or so-called “donut hole” will be closed by 2020
- Insurance companies will not be able to deny coverage based on a pre-existing condition
- Lifetime limits are eliminated under the ACA, and by 2014 annual spending caps will also be eliminated
- Young adults will be able to stay covered under their parents’ plan until the age of 26
- 54 million Americans who are insured through private insurance companies now have access to preventative services with no cost sharing
- Mental health coverage for everyone with mandatory benefits like counseling included in every plan
In November 2012, I was hospitalized for five days and did not have health insurance because of the high costs and my limited income as a solo practioner and small business owner. After I was released from the hospital and hit with a significant bill from a variety of service providers, I tried to obtain coverage to prevent another financial catastrophe if I were to get sick again and be readmitted to the hospital. I was denied coverage on the basis of having a pre-existing condition because from my previous sickness. No American should be placed in a position of being denied coverage by insurance companies, and being afraid to get medical treatment for fear of the astronomical costs that will be incurred. That is why I support the ACA, and will propose ideas to refine it rather than repeal it.
In Florida, there are about 3.8 million people who are uninsured, second in the nation only behind Texas. Although an estimated 1.3 million Floridians were expected to gain coverage through the Medicaid expansion, Florida’s Republican dominated legislature and governor declined to expand its Medicaid program or establish its own state exchange.
Together, we will fight to protect the important progress made in health care reform while making needed improvements.
Treating Everyone with Fairness and Equality
I am a staunch advocate for equal rights for people of all races, nationalities, religions, disabilities or sexual orientations. As a practicing civil rights attorney, I have been at the forefront of fighting for equality in my community. Last summer, Olumide Ajileye and I organized a peacefully rally which drew over 2,000 people to downtown Orlando protesting mandatory minimum laws and disproportionate treatment of minorities in the Florida criminal justice system. I have spent years pushing back against inequality here in Florida, and I will continue to fight against Stand Your Ground, mandatory minimum sentencing and other unjust laws that disproportionately affect minorities, especially the Black and Hispanic communities.
Equality also means being able to love and marry who you want. Today, there are only 21 states and the District of Columbia that have laws on the books giving workplace protections on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or both. I fully support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (or “ENDA”) which will protect jobs in the LGBT community. No one should be able to legally be fired on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We don’t allow people to be fired on the basis of race or gender, and the same equal protections under the law should be extended to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Equal treatment is not only morally right, but it also promotes business. We will work together to make this a reality, because equal protection for everyone is common sense and not being able to marry who you want is nonsense.
Economy and Jobs
Promoting Growth and Efficiency, Creating Jobs, and Supporting Small Business.
Putting party ahead of people. That is what lead to congress voting for a $24 billion dollar government shutdown while people are out working their butt’s off every day. We can’t afford congressmen who create instability and uncertainty to promote their own political agenda’s thinly disguised as principal. We must work towards solutions that transition our economy from recovery mode into economic growth for the long term.
As a small business owner, I know first-hand some of the things that would help create jobs in central Florida. Here are five areas that I propose will create jobs, promote growth, support small businesses, and help Florida and the United States recover:
- Cut the red tape. The tax code has simply grown too complex for people to understand, hours are wasted from trying to understand it, and it is crippling our economy. We have to ease the burdens of complex filings and other requirements on business to expand lending and grants. We have to make it easier for job creators to be able to create jobs
- Drastic changes to make the tax code simpler and much easier to understand will promote voluntary compliance and will help close the tax gap. Less forms and filings. If we can simplify the tax code so that all of us can easily understand and comply with it, economic efficiency and reduction of our national debt can be a realistic goals that will be realized
- We must be willing to take on special interest groups and end tax loopholes so that we can lower tax rates, grow revenue, and reinvest those dollars back into small businesses that create jobs right here in America
- It is critical that we invest in urgent infrastructure repair programs that will create jobs and make America stronger. For every $1 billion in federal funds invested in repairing infrastructure, about 47,500 jobs and about $6.2 billion in economic activity is created or sustained. New jobs and updated infrastructure is critical to our economic growth and global competitiveness.
- Curtailing government waste and abusive spending. With a national debt of over $17 trillion, we can’t just simply make cuts across the board and expect to climb out of this hole. We should instead spend smarter, and do away with incentives to waste like “use it or lose it.” We must create an economic environment that nurtures job creation and growth. Keeping up the fight to defund the Affordable Care Act or turn Medicare into a voucher program will never be a solution for shrinking our national debt
A simplified tax code, removing barriers for businesses trying to obtain grants and loans, closing tax loopholes, curtailing wasteful spending and investing in our infrastructure and creating jobs. These are the things that I support, and that I believe will finally take our economy from a slow recovery to economic growth. We can’t afford to have a congressman vote again to shut down the government and continue to put party ahead of people.
Social Security and Medicare
Keeping America’s Promise to Our Seniors
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are approximately 103,000 seniors living within the 10th district of Florida. There are over 3 million Floridians who are current Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries.
The current Republican congressman for the 10th district voted to end Medicare [H Con. Res. 34, Vote #277, 4/15/11].
If you work all your life in America, America will care for you and provide you with a solid and dependable foundation for your retirement. That is the promise that was made to our seniors, and that is a promise I intend on keeping because I refuse to allow our seniors to fall into poverty because of efforts to destroy Medicare and Social Security. I will make proposals to strengthen Social Security and ensure the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund.
I will never support any budget that essentially guts Medicare, like the budget proposals presented by Congressman Paul Ryan privatizing Medicare and creating a voucher system. The Affordable Care Act is a large step in the right direction and provides a solid framework that has already lowered prescription drug costs to seniors, closed the Medicare donut hole, and included a pilot program to test alternate payment systems.
I will oppose any budget that extends tax breaks to the wealthy and makes payments to China while cutting Medicare for our seniors. It is not only fiscally irresponsible to pass a budget on the backs of our seniors, it is morally reprehensible. Privatizing Social Security or Medicare is wrong for seniors, wrong for America and I will never support it because these programs make America better. Lets fight to keep the promise we made to our seniors.
Defending Women and Their Right to Choose
I believe in marriage and promoting families, and I will vigorously support and protect a woman’s right to choose and women’s reproductive rights. While there should be efforts made towards reducing the number of abortions in this country, I believe the right way to accomplish this is to expand access to birth control, as well as expanded educational efforts aimed towards young women to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and promote the adoption of children.
A woman’s medical decisions should only be between her, her family, her faith and her care provider. I will not stand on the sideline and watch Washington politicians, mostly males, attempt to legislate what a woman can or cannot do with her own body.
I will stand up and vigorously oppose any efforts to overturn Roe v Wade and will continue to support a woman’s right to choose like Wendy Davis from Texas did.
The gender wage gap has to be closed, and I will work tirelessly to see to it that income inequality for women is eliminated and women have equal opportunities in the workplace for upward mobility and career development.
My mother raised me to love and respect women. That is who I am, that is what I believe, and with your help we will protect every woman’s right to choose.
I will always fight to keep America safe and secure against any and all enemies who threaten our security. But military action should not be taken lightly and should be considered with serious thought to the safety of our men and women who serve in uniform as a part of the greatest military the world has ever known. All diplomatic resolutions should be explored and exhausted, when the situation permits, before our military is deployed.
A foreign policy that embraces, non-military intervention, diplomacy and a willingness to engage in constructive dialogue with leaders of foreign nations will ultimately make America safer and stronger. Extremist approaches to foreign policy which are combative and counterproductive will only breed more extremism in the world.
We are seeing how diplomacy and constructive discussions with countries like Iran in recent months are yielding real progress that hasn’t been seen in about three decades between the U.S. and Iran. With reasonable leaders on both sides of the negotiation, progress can be made and sustained. I will strongly oppose any efforts, such as the bill proposed by Senator Corker, which restrict our ability to engage in constructive discussions and diplomacy. We have all grown weary of over a decade of war and conflict.
Diplomacy and efforts towards peace do not reflect weakness and should not be characterized as such. As the greatest nation on earth, we have a duty to set an example and lead the world towards peace. There are alternatives to military interventions abroad, and they must be explored and utilized more frequently.
Protecting and Caring for the Veterans of Our Armed Forces and Facilitating the Transition from the Battlefield to the Job Market
I am committed to ensuring that we care for the men and women serving in the Armed Forces, and their families, who have sacrificed everything to protect our county and our freedom.
More specifically, I will stand up on the fight to cut funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). According to an analysis by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, in any given month a total of approximately 900,000 veterans nationwide lived in households that relied on SNAP to provide food for their families in 2011.
Republicans voted to cut nearly $5 billion dollars from SNAP, which has affected nearly 109,500 veterans living in Florida who will see cuts to the food stamps that they rely on to help feed their families. This is not right and I will fight against it to protect our veterans.
I also support expanding funding and access to mental health services and medical care for members of our armed forces, veterans who have served, and their families. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, nearly 22 veterans die of suicide every single day, the equivalent of 1 suicide every 65 minutes. This is unacceptable and must be addressed.
Lastly, I will push for providing businesses more incentives and tax breaks to businesses that hire veterans and provide them with quality well-paying jobs. There is a 10% unemployment rate among post 9/11 veterans. Expanded efforts to educate, train and equip our veterans with the skills needed to obtain well-paying jobs can help slash the unemployment rate and get our veterans back to work.
We can do more to care for our men and women in uniform, veterans and their families. We will do more together.
Removing the Stigma Associated with Mental Health Illness to Expand and Facilitate Treatment
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010 someone in the country died from suicide every 13.7 minutes. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 1 U.S. veteran commits suicide every 65 minutes. The Affordable Care Act made significant strides towards mental health insurance, but more can be done in the area of expanding treatment.
To combat suicide rates and mental health disorders that often go untreated, I support the following:
- Reforms to expand access to mental health services for both veterans and civilians
- Removing the stigma and/or embarrassment associated with mental health and seeking treatment through awareness campaigns on social media, print and visual media, and public advocacy
- Pushing for adequate government funding for mental health and brain research to understand the causes of mental disorders and how to treat them
- Fusing social and political advocacy together to promote the benefits of preventative mental health screenings, similar to routine cancer and diabetes screenings that are more socially acceptable, to promote and facilitate treatment
- Early intervention programs that would teach young children in public schools about mental health and intervene at an early age to combat social stigma associated with mental health illness and treatment
The brain is one of the most important organs in your body, and it should be cared for just like people care for their liver, gall bladder or heart. Mental health treatment is no different and it is an issue that has been neglected for far too long in America. Let’s work together to finally have a national discussion about mental health treatment and combat mental illness and suicide rates.