Updated 06:44 AM EDT, Fri, Oct 23, 2020

The Voice of Immigration? NYC Hispanic Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito Steps on National Stage

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New York City Hispanic Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is taking major steps into becoming a prominent voice in the national stage.

Some of the social issues the outspoken and bold Mark-Viverito takes part in are immigration and criminal justice reform. Widely supported by liberal NYC mayor Bill de Blasio, Mark-Viverito will head to Arizona to "push for a municipal identification card that primarily benefits immigrants who entered the country illegally," CBS reported via The Associated Press.

"I believe in equality and justice for vulnerable populations," Mark-Viverito told The Associated Press. "I want to be part of that conversation. I want to be part of moving the dial."

Mark-Viverito, whose district covers parts of Harlem and the Bronx, was also known for criticizing Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his stand on charter schools and his lack of public statement on a gas explosion in East Harlem, NYC. Some of the criminal justice reforms she also supports are the establishment of a bail fund for minor offenders and "a call for some low-level violations to warrant only summonses instead of jail time," CBS added.

She also wore an "I Can't Breathe" shirt to honor the last words of Eric Garner before he died in a policeman's fatal chokehold. Mark-Viverito's stance on the Garner issue and her advocacy to hire more policemen prompted the police force to bear anger towards the Council Speaker. The law enforcers have also demanded that "de Blasio denounce Mark-Viverito," the news outlet noted.

De Blasio, however, didn't grant the request, and Mark-Viverito didn't apologize for her statement against the law enforcers either, according to CBS. De Blasio supported longtime ally Mark-Viverito's election as the Council Speaker. She was also one of the firsts to endorse the mayor's campaign.

City Councilman Corey Johnson, D-Manhattan, describes Mark-Viverito as a person who is "sticking up for the dispossessed," adding that "she has strong beliefs." Dan Gerstein, a New York political strategist, thinks Mark-Viverito was "an obscure local councilwoman who got catapulted into a very visible role that she was not immediately prepared to leverage," CBS noted.

Gerstein added, "It was inevitable that it would take her some time to find her footing."

CBS reported that Mark-Viverito's biggest achievement was the municipal ID, which, as of last week, had 100,000 New Yorkers signing up. The card "will allow undocumented immigrants - and other groups such as the elderly and the transgendered - to access vital city services," the news outlet added.

"I don't believe you should be criminalizing anybody who has an intention to come here because they want to provide for their families and don't see any other means to do it," Mark-Viverito, 45, told AP.

Last month, Mark-Viverito rejected the accusations of affordable housing advocates that City Hall is moving too quickly with its rezoning plans for more than a dozen neighborhoods, the Observer wrote.

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