AOC Provides Updates On Pre-K, SNAP, South America and Immigration
Congratulations on the start of a new school year! I was at the New York Hall of Science on Thursday, welcoming their new pre-k students. I worked with their program, last year, to secure a $750,000 grant to strengthen STEM learning in Queens (learn more). I’m excited to see these young learners take advantage of their new science and math programs.
Before the summer wrapped up, I visited the community garden at NYCHA’s Castle Hill Houses. The garden is one of more than 200 community gardens organized across the City by GrowNYC, with the goal of making it easier for NYCHA residents to afford healthy foods. I used the visit to talk publicly about the recent cut in SNAP benefits. When we return to Congress next week, I will fight against any additional cuts to food stamps in the Farm Bill, which we expect will pass later this month (learn more). Through the Farm Bill, I will also work to increase halal and kosher food at our food pantries. We recently met with the Parkchester Islamic Center and Met Council, the largest Jewish community social safety net in America, to learn more about the rising food insecurity facing their communities (learn more).
In August, I also led a trip of Latino Members of Congress to Chile, Colombia and Brazil. We met with several leaders there, including Presidents Gabriel Boric and Gustavo Petro. Our goal was to grow trust between Latin America and the United States, given our country’s history of harmful interventions in the region. We also discussed with these foreign leaders how we can better handle common challenges, including the climate crisis, migration, and threats to democracy (learn more).
We also are working on immigration issues in New York. I’ve visited three different shelters for migrants, most recently in Astoria. The immigrants I spoke with were all eager to get to work and get their own housing, but most of them faced a minimum of a six-month waiting period to gain the proper work authorization. I am pushing the Biden administration to speed up the process for migrants to receive legal work papers (learn more). We have also secured $100 million in federal funding to support the City’s and State’s efforts to house migrants.
I expect to have more updates to share on migrant housing and other issues after we return to Congress next week. Thank you, as always, for the opportunity to serve you, and I look forward to seeing many of you in person soon.
Updates and Resources
Student Loan Borrowers: Payments Resume on October 1. The federal student loan pause is ending, with the first payments due on October 1. It is important to start preparing now. Lenders are expected to be short-staffed with more than 40 million borrowers all resuming payments in the next several weeks. Your lender may have also changed during the pause, and it is extremely important to verify that your lender is correctly charging you. Additionally, the Biden administration has created several new programs that may reduce your payments or even eliminate your debt – but it can take several weeks to enroll in these programs. To learn more, visit the Department of Education’s website.
Renew Your Passport 6-9 months Before it Expires. Check your passport before you book international travel. Many countries require six months of passport validity to enter, so we recommend applying 6-9 months ahead of expiration date or travel. Learn more about your destination at travel.state.gov/destination.
Families: Save on Your Internet Bills. For families enrolled in WIC, Medicaid, SNAP or other qualifying programs, there is a new program to help you save $30/month on your internet bill. Learn more at the FCC’s website.
Gig Workers: Enter to Win $100 from the Astoria Workers Project. Do you drive for Lyft or Uber? Deliver for DoorDash? Or work another gig job? If so, the Astoria Worker Projects wants you to complete this survey, so they can improve working conditions for gig workers across the City. By completing this survey, you also have a chance to win a $100 gift card.
Students: Service Academy Applications Due November 1. Students interested in applying to any of the military service academies must receive a letter of recommendation from their Member of Congress or Senator. If you would like to be considered for a nomination to a service academy, please complete the nomination form.
Students: Congressional App Challenge Due November 1. Every year, middle and high school students are invited to create a software application as part of the Congressional App Competition. Each Member of Congress then selects a winner from their district, and all of the winners from across the country are invited to D.C. to celebrate. Learn more about the challenge on our website.
Veterans & Families: Get Healthcare and Benefits under the PACT Act. The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances. The PACT Act adds to the list of health conditions that we assume are caused by exposure to these substances. This law helps us provide generations of Veterans—and their survivors—with the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve. Learn more here.
Banner Image: Rep. AOC visits a community garden. Image Credit – Rep. AOC