Genesis Aquino is joining the scores of Latina women who are running for office across the United States. In New York City there is presently an Afro-Latina candidate for mayor, Dianne Morales. On a federal level, Agatha Bacelar is boldly running for Nancy Pelosi’s seat in Congress and recently Florida elected its first Latina Democrat State Senator, Annette Taddeo. The truth of the matter is that the Latino population is on the rise and thus more Latino representation is needed in politics. Aquino is seeking to be one of these representatives by running for the 51st District State Assembly Seat in New York City.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Aquino immigrated to the United States in 2001. Shortly after arrival she began the long process of obtaining her citizenship which she finally received in 2014. Aquino has lived in the 51st district since 2001 and has experienced the ways in which the community has changed and how elected officials have responded to these changes.
Prior to running for office Aquino worked full time as a housing and immigrant rights advocate. As a housing advocate working in housing court, she has seen the increase in evictions in her neighborhood. Many of these evictions are accelerating the gentrification that the neighborhood of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, is experiencing. When elected, Aquino hopes to help pass the Good Cause Eviction Bill — a bill that would ensure tenants aren’t evicted without cause and increasing funding for the New York City Housing Authority -New York City’s public housing organization.
Aquino feels that her personal and professional experiences make her an excellent representative for one of the most densely immigrated populated districts in New York City.
Although New York City has called itself a “sanctuary city” for immigrant rights groups and their allies have been calling for Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents not be allowed in the city and especially in and around the city court rooms. The Immigrant Defense Project released a report in January 2019 which revealed that “from 2017 to 2018, ICE operations in and around the courts continued to increase, keeping arrests at an unprecedented level. These operations increased by 17% compared to 2017 and by 1700% compared to 2016.” With the highest numbers of arrests being reported by Brooklyn and Queens. Just earlier this year, Erick Diaz Cruz was shot in the face by ICE agents in Brooklyn.
These types of federal threats against immigrant communities are compounded by local New York City police officers arresting street vendors.
After watching ICE agents terrorize her neighbors, Aquino starte ICE Watch. “I started ICE Watch with a few neighbors and handed information to people to let them know their rights, let them know they can come out of their homes and that we would have their backs” she explained to Kings County Politics.
Elected officials with personal and professional experiences standing up for immigrant populations and advocating for their rights are needed more than ever in New York City.
As a Dominican-American immigrant, Aquino has personally dealt with the immigration process and procedures, faced home evictions, and like many other immigrant students had to juggle going to school while caring for her family’s needs. Her experiences are very similar to those of her constituents. This type of commonality is especially helpful when it comes to developing and supporting policies that can help people in her district. Improving housing, education, and increasing the morale of those most adversely affected in a community is beneficial to everyone who lives there.
If elected, Aquino will advocate for progressive immigration, housing, and climate policies that help improve the quality of life for all of the residents of the 51st District in Brooklyn — and New York City as a whole.
This is the second time Aquino is running for office in New York City. You can follow Aquino while she runs for office via Instagram.