NY-22 Minute: One Cup of Coffee with Claudia By Luke Perry
Yesterday I attended a scheduled session of “Coffee with Claudia” in the New Hartford district office. This piece will share the main topics discussed and compare recent comments by Ms. Tenney to past ones.
My time was scheduled for 10:40am. I went in around 11:30am. Two groups of five were combined in the interest of time. Some constituents were frustrated by the wait. The staff worked hard to be considerate and accommodating. I observed Ms. Tenney and constituents deeply invested in dialogue, which understandably created a fluid process.
Two constituents had time to express their views at length. The first was going to discuss healthcare, but believing that had been throughly covered, urged Ms. Tenney to support a House bill identical to the one passed in the Senate that extends sanctions toward Russia and requires Congressional approval for President Trump to lift existing sanctions. Ms. Tenney stated her agreement with the constituent.
The second asked Ms. Tenney about immigration, particularly in regard to Iran, which led to a larger conversation on the topic. Ms. Tenney said she was “not against anyone coming to the U.S.” and inquired why the question referenced Iran in particular. The individual responded that they are one of the countries in “the travel ban.”
Ms. Tenney expressed concern about soundbites of misinformation and encouraged people to read her newsletter. Ms. Tenney said she criticized the administration when the executive order was initially released, “opposed the travel ban but not vetting,” and endeavored to help fix it.
Ms. Tenney did release a formal statement regarding President Trump’s executive order on January 30, 2017. The statement expressed “sympathy” for the “trauma” refugees experience and reaffirmed Ms. Tenney's commitment “to the mission of the refugee community throughout the 22nd district.” The statement included no criticism of the president or indication that changes were needed.
Mark Weiner of Syracuse.com reported on January 30, 2017 that Ms. Tenney supported the ban in contrast to other upstate House Republicans. "I don't think the hysteria right now is justified," Tenney stated, noting exceptions were put in place to keep families together, so “when you read into it, you realize there's a little more flexibility."
This was reiterated in The Washington Post a day later, who quoted Ms. Tenney's formal statement: "While President Trump's recent Executive Order places a temporarily hold on elements of our nation's refugee and visa programs, it in no way undermines our country's humanitarian commitments."
During our session, Ms. Tenney explained how she has met with the Secretary of Homeland Security regarding immigration. She also met with refugees abroad who expressed concern about ISIS posing as refugees to enter the country. There are “very few people of that ilk,” Tenney said, but everyone’s security must be considered.
A constituent emphasized the notion that the U.S. is a country built on immigration. “Of course we support immigrants,” Ms. Tenney concluded, “people are concerned about people coming here and committing crimes.” Ms. Tenney shared that she has sought to have First Lady Melania Trump, a native of Yugoslavia, visit the district.
My next piece will share insights on other topics that were raised as time ran out, including healthcare and education.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.
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