BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Earlier this week State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Elmhurst) spoke with the Queens Tribune about both the backlash and support he’s received since joining the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC).
“Firstly, I respect everyone’s right to disagree with elected officials and public leaders,” Peralta said. “Everyone has a right to rally, but the bottom line here is that I represent a very diverse district. I represent hundreds of people that are very eclectic, with different issues that affect different areas.”
Peralta said it’s the frustration with Trump that’s causing some of his constituents to take out their anger on Peralta, who joined the IDC to have “a seat at the table.”
“Having a seat has allowed me to pass bills I’ve never passed before,” Peralta said. “I’ve not only secured budget dollars for nonprofits, which is something I’ve never been able to do, but I was the one that championed and pushed for the $10 million for the Immigrant Defense Fund. The things that are happening now is because I have this seat at the table.”
Peralta said while he respects NO IDC NY’s protest, he has told the community “time and time again” to give him an opportunity to show that he can deliver to the community.
“The problem is that we’re living in an era where people want instant gratification and results immediately,” he said. “I’m trying to bring issues to the floor and I hope with time that those people protesting will realize I’m trying to do good.”
When asked why he hasn’t held another town hall as promised, Peralta said the session isn’t over and although the budget is finalized, he’s determined to get the pieces of legislation that he has supported but were not included in the bill passed before the session ends in June.
“We’re still trying to work on some things,” Peralta said. “I want to be able to push and pass some of these issues that weren’t in the budget. So before I hold a town hall, I want to ensure that during this legislative session, we can vote on them.”
Peralta said that he is insulted that there are people who believe that he is no longer for the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act – a proposed legislation that would grant citizenship to children that grew up in the United States and ultimately provide the same educational rights as United States born students – when in fact he has been pushing for the bill for the last six years and is dedicated to getting it passed.
“Just because it hasn’t happened, doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen,” Peralta said. “If I wasn’t a member of the IDC, and the Dream Act didn’t pass, would they still be saying I’m not for it,” he said. “This is a bill I’ve been working on and putting my sweat and tears into every day to make a reality. For someone to say I no longer care about it is disingenuous.”
According to Peralta, senators are familiar with a parliamentary trick known as a hostile amendment, which consists of several pieces of legislation voted on as one with the intention of making the original motion ineffective or defeating its purpose. Typically, the pieces of legislation that are combined are those that are relevant to a subject under consideration. When the vote for emergency funding for Planned Parenthood came up, Peralta said that the senators had to decide whether or not it was relevant.
Although he said that he’s always been in support of Planned Parenthood, emergency funding for the organization, it’s amongst the combination of controversial legislations put together into one bill. Therefore, if he votes against the bill, which may comprise of more things he’s against and just one thing he’s for, then ultimately he’s voting against the bill as a whole.
“It forces a person to make a tough vote,” he said. “People are so angry and frustrated saying ‘you don’t support Planned Parenthood, education and health,’ because they don’t know what a hostile amendment is.”
Peralta said he has continued to be progressive and is still pro-women, pro-choice and pro-families.
“Now that there are more leaders representing minority communities in the IDC, we’ve been able to push the IDC further to the left,” Peralta said.
Peralta said being in the IDC does not make him a Republican.
“I couldn’t sit here and wait two years and allow for my community to be affected,” Peralta said. “It’s about getting results for my community. I will never become a Republican. I don’t believe in what they believe in. We have different ideologies. In this age, I need to move the needle and the only way to move the needle is to put pressure. If I don’t have a seat at the table, I don’t have a voice.”
Peralta said when the session ends in June, he plans to organize a town hall but hopes that the protestors will be willing to cooperate peacefully.
“I hope the individuals protesting understand that the expectations being put on myself and the members of the IDC are unreasonable,” Peralta said. “It took same-sex marriage over 20 years to pass, it took Raise the Age 12 years to pass. Issues that are momentous and grand take time because it has to filter and people have to accept it little by little.”
Regardless of who supports him, Peralta said he will continue to push on the issues he strongly believes in for his community.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or firstname.lastname@example.org