State Sen. Parker under fire for ‘accidentally’ voting to ban sanctuary cities

State Sen. Parker under fire for ‘accidentally’ voting to ban sanctuary cities
Community Newspaper Group / Thomas Tracy

He went to a wedding, but didn’t mean to say “I do.”

State Sen. Kevin Parker (D–Flatbush) is under fire over revelations that he voted in favor of a bill prohibiting cities from declaring “sanctuary” status for undocumented immigrants last summer. But the pol, who represents many immigrants in Flatbush and part of Kensington, is claiming it was just an accident — he was off officiating friends’ nuptials during the vote, and got marked as a supporter due to arcane rules that count someone present for the session but not there for the actual vote as a “yes.”

“I didn’t vote for it — I had to leave because I was officiating a wedding and that was not the last day to vote, it was the bleed-over day,” he said. “I was marked ‘yes’ because I wasn’t there.”

Parker is one of four senate Democrats whose votes helped pass the legislation through the senate in June 2016, and a similar bill is now back on the floor — this time with far more eyes on it due to President Trump’s plan to deport more undocumented immigrants and to pull federal funds from places that offer them sanctuary.

But Parker claims his vote is really in the spotlight now due to a smear campaign from members of the Independent Democratic Conference — a breakaway group of senate Democrats that partners with Republicans — who are trying to avert negative attention from themselves.

“This is much ado about nothing and an attempt by renegade Democrats to deflect from their interest in disempowering the black and Latino community with my vote from late 2016,” said Parker.

But local immigrant leaders say it is much ado about something when a pol is too busy with a friend’s wedding to realize he’s voting against his own constituents.

“A politician is supposed follow this and you have to make sure you know what you are doing — that’s why you’re in the state senate,” said Mamnunul Haq, a longtime Kensington resident and leader in the local Bangladeshi community. “We the people, the community, are depending the politicians — that’s their job, we voted them to keep us safe and do better for us.”

Parker insists he does support making New York City and State sanctuaries, and pointed to his past support for the Dream Act, the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, and providing voting materials in Haitian Creole as proof of what side he is on.

“I represent the largest concentration of Caribbean immigrants outside of the Caribbean — half of the consul generals from the Caribbean live in my district — so how to do I become a 15-year incumbent unless I have an impeccable record on immigration?” he said. “My history and record on issues around immigrants and immigration speak for themselves.”

But Haq says he doesn’t feel like the state senator — whose district covers part but not all of Kensington — has been there for his community since Trump was elected.

“The community counts on him but I never ever saw him in Kensington,” he said. “After Donald Trump’s Muslim ban we did a ‘hate-free zone protest’ in Kensington and I didn’t see him.”

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com.