CUNY Citizenship Now!



CUNY Citizenship Now! provides free, high quality, and confidential immigration law services to help individuals and families on their path to U.S. citizenship. It is the largest university legal assistance program in the nation since 1997.

There are thought to be over half a million undocumented immigrants in New York City at this time. About 70% of them have paid work, in catering, construction, retail, driving, cleaning and other trades. City regulations restrict public officials and police officers from enquiring about immigration status of residents with whom they come into contact.

Citizenship Now! has 70 employees, 30 part-time locations and 6 full-time centers available. It also holds more than 20 community-based events a year, helping over 1,500 individuals in the same time frame.

Two lawyers came to Brooklyn College on November, 29, 2018 to offer free information and resources for individuals or their loved ones’ immigration status. The lawyers explained the process by which someone can become a citizen, first by acquiring a green card. However, though it is just the first step, it can be a very difficult thing to obtain, taking long periods of time (dependent on many things, such as immigration status of family members, spouses, and country of origin), and with a lengthy application process.

The lawyers also explained how previous-Attorney General Jeff Sessions tried to completely eliminate DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), and strip citizenship for children who were born in the U.S. but whose parents were not. His attempts were rebuffed by Congress, but he was able to cancel advanced parole, disabling non-U.S. nationals from entering back into the U.S. after exiting.

After giving out the information they deemed applicable, the lawyers received questions from the audience on immigration issues. It was a very useful event.

The U.S. is currently in a very divisive political climate, especially regarding immigration. The current administration is seemingly in favor of doing anything possible to keep immigrants out, including separating children from their parents. Perhaps even more alarming, the department in place of dealing with immigration, the ICE, is practically keeping children in jails, and there have even been videos released of ICE agents laughing at the children they apprehend.

It is a sad time when humans are so impenitent, throwing the term “illegal alien” around so loosely, especially in a country where the land is all stolen. We must be compassionate and empathetic to our brothers and sisters who wish to join our country, and set a better system in place to allow good people to become citizens, rather than just “build the wall.”

I spoke with the director of CUNY Citizenship Now, Allan Wernick, and he was very passionate about the work Citizenship Now does, recommending anyone with questions come to them for help. Mr. Wernick himself oversees the entire operation, develops new projects, and advocates for funding. If someone wishes to seek help from CUNY Citizenship Now, they are to call 646-664-9400.


Population change in Crown Heights

The Northern part of Crown Heights belongs to Community Board 8 in Brooklyn, NY. This part of Crown Heights also happens to be where I currently live, so I decided I would look into the decennial population changes since 1970. Population Change Crown Heights North

As you can see, from 1970 to 1980, there was a big drop-off in population in this area, possibly due to the struggling economy of the city, and many residents wanting to move away to purchase more land. After a slight rise in the number of residents from 1980 to 1990, the population in this area has since remained very steady.

The Community Board 8 District Office has two primary functions – to process citizen’s complaints and request for services and to provide administrative support for the Community Board. Meetings are held each month with the exception of July and August. Jobs are readily available in this community and posted on its site. Community Board 8 is home to the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Weeksville Heritage Center, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, and much more.

Autumn hits NYC

Autumn is a glorious time, for many reasons. School starts again for kids, everyone is rejuvenated after summer, and the cool air provides a nice middle ground for the hot, humid months that preceded it, and the cold, frozen air that is to come.

However, perhaps the greatest part about autumn comes around Mid-October, when the leaves almost-magically change colors.

This video was shot at places including Washington Square Park, Brooklyn College, and Prospect Park.

Gunman kills 11 in Pittsburgh Synagogue

As he spewed racist, anti-semitic slurs, a gunman shot and killed 11 people peacefully practicing their religion in a Pittsburgh Synagogue on October 27, 2018. This is the deadliest attack ever on jews in the United States. The gunman, Robert Bowers, targeted Jews online, and as he was receiving medical care, told a SWAT officer that he wanted all jews to die.

The United States often preaches unity and mourning after a tragic event like this. People on the right will ask for more armed guards, and those on the left will ask for stricter gun control. With no compromise or legislative action, these deadly attacks only continue to occur, with the number of mass shootings in the United States in 2018 already surpassing 300.

Ozier Muhammad

Ozier Muhammad is an American photojournalist who has been on the New York Times staff since 1992. He has also worked for Ebony Magazine, The Charlotte Observer, and Newsday.


In 1985, Ozier Muhammad shared the Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting with Josh Friedman and Dennis Bell for a series of Newsday reports entitled “Africa, The Desperate Continent.” This series was about drought and famine taking place in Africa and its political consequences, and it earned Muhammad the Polk Award in News Photography.

Muhammad has also been recognized for his work taking photos in Harlem since he moved to New York in 1980. He has also taken iconic photographs of Barack Obama’s campaign, Haiti after the earthquake, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and the NATO protest in Chicago, his hometown.

Here is some of his work.

Number of homeless students in NYC rises by nearly 3 percent

“More than 114,000 students in New York City schools were homeless at some point during the last school year, according to new data released by Advocates for Children of New York.

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Roughly 3 percent more students lived in shelters or doubled up with friends and relatives compared to the previous year. “We think that the city needs to invest more resources and attention in working with these students,” Randi Levine, the policy director for Advocates for Children of New York, said.

A spokeswoman for the city Department of Education said the de Blasio administration has introduced new initiatives to help homeless students, such as adding social workers to schools, placing families in shelters closer to their youngest child’s school, and providing yellow bus service to all students in grades K-6 living in city shelters.

Spike Lee speaks on gentrification

After a New York Magazine article titled “Is Gentrification All Bad” released in February, 2014, Spike Lee spoke about the negative ramifications of gentrification in New York City.

Speaking at Pratt Institute for a lecture in honor of African American History Month, Lee was asked a question about “the other side” of gentrification. Wearing a Knicks beanie, orange socks, and a “Defend Brooklyn” hoodie, the famous filmmaker referenced the New York Magazine article and referred to it as “bullshit.” 

Lee noted that he is all for democracy and people being free to move where they want, but questioned why facilities and police presence were only improved and increased once white people moved into previously rough neighborhoods.

“Then comes the motherfuckin’ Christopher Columbus Syndrome. You can’t discover this! We been here. You just can’t come and bogart,” says Lee in his expletive-filled rant. He also mentions the culture of areas that has existed and been laid down for centuries, and how new people will move in and think they can just disrupt that. Lee cites an example of how his father bought a home in 1968, and people moved in in 2013 and called the cops on him just for playing his acoustic guitar.


AOL BUILD Presents: Spike Lee, "CHI-RAQ"

There is a severe problem with people moving into places and thinking they have free reign to change things at their whim, and when the cost of living rises out of nowhere and kicks people out of their neighborhoods, where are they supposed to go?

On the other side, facilities being maintained and neighborhoods becoming safer is certainly not a bad thing. Public schools improving and people selling their houses for a large sum of money are also both big benefits. It is often not realistic to keep neighborhoods racially and economically diverse, while also improving them with financing. As the original New York Magazine post says, “When you’re trying to make a poor neighborhood into a nicer place to live, the prospect of turning it into a racially and economically mixed area with thriving stores is not a threat but a fantasy. As the cost of basic city life keeps rising, it’s more important than ever to reclaim a form of urban improvement from its malignant offshoots.”

Spike Lee grew up in Fort Greene, and this is an area in New York that gentrification has affected immensely.

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Elizabeth Elizalde, metro reporter for the New York Daily News

Elizabeth Elizalde is a Brooklyn College alumna, who now works as a metro reporter for the New York Daily News. More specifically, she writes for the News’ Latino section, Viva New York, where she covers Latino issues.


Elizalde also worked as a reporter on the breaking news desk for over a year. In addition to this, she was a freelance news reporter for DNAinfo, and an intern at CBSNews, CNN en Español, NY1 and Latina Magazine.

“Immigration reform is another issue that hits close to home… I know how hard my parents fought to give me a better life,” said Elizalde to CNN.

Elizalde received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Brooklyn College in 2015.

She currently lives in Brooklyn, and enjoys exploring restaurants, traveling and writing.

Cory Booker questions SCOTUS nominee Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court

Cory Booker is an American politician currently serving as the junior United States Senator from New Jersey. He has had this title since 2013 and is a member of the Democratic party.

Booker has been pushing to derail the nomination of SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh, after a new FBI investigation into past allegations of sexual assault were leveled against him. Booker tweeted to his 4.1 million Twitter followers, “The time to call your senators is now,” adding the hashtags “Stop Kavanaugh” and “Believe Survivors.”

Booker has praised Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the research psychologist who said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school, as heroic. He has also used his place on the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Booker was the 36th Mayor of Newark from 2006 to 2013, and before that he served on the Newark City Council from 1998 to 2002. Booker is the first African-American U.S. Senator from New Jersey.

Booker spoke to about 1,000 Iowa Democrats on Saturday night, bringing the crowd to its feet several times. He has been slowly building to this visit to the state that holds the first presidential caucuses, also visiting key presidential battlegrounds such as Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. Booker is doing this as he weighs his options for a 2020 run at the White House.


Obama endorses Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Former president Barack Obama is backing 260 more Democratic candidates ahead of November’s midterm elections. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, progressive New York congressional candidate, is one of the latest names on his list. Ocasio-Cortez had a stunning victory against 10-term incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley back in June, and now she is running for a seat in the Bronx. 

Ocasio-Cortez was born in the Bronx, New York City, and went to high school at Yorktown High School in Westchester County. She then attended Boston University, where she was an intern in the immigration office of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy. She graduated cum laude from Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in economics and international relations.

Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, and worked as an organizer for Bernie Sander’s 2016 presidential campaign. She has expressed her desire to overhaul mass incarceration in the criminal-justice system in addition to many other social justice issues.