Rivera Backs Off Gillibrand on Immigration, Pending Meeting

ALBANY—After criticism from the left on immigration, Kirsten Gillibrand reached out today and managed to dodge the first bullet.

Assemblyman Peter Rivera was going to have a press conference this morning to announce "total opposition" to Gillibrand over her position on immigration, but it was canceled, he says, because it had "became unmanageable" (there was a conflicting press conference held by Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos) and because Gillibrand has asked a chance to explain her positions first.

"The best thing to do is to attempt to meet with her, and then come out with a statement after it," he said. 

In Hyde Park on Monday, Gillibrand was asked about the subject as it related to agriculture in the Hudson Valley. She replied:

"My view has always been that we need to right-size immigration," she said. "We need to have the right number of visas to accommodate the right number of workers, particularly for this industry. The agriculture industry's number one concern is, we need access to legal workers, and we need our immigration system to work for our industry because there is so much talent that we need to keep in this country that are experts in all of these various industries."

Chung-Wha Hong, head of the New York Immigration Coalition, was happy to see that softening.

"I believe a lot of people have gotten her that message, that she needs to reconsider her positions, and I think that's why her rhetoric is softening," she said. Her group also blasted Gillibrand's selection. "I would recommend to her that she doesn't draw out this process, and have a slow and messy discussion, but rather to come out clearly and quickly with a pro-active and comprehensive position. We are eager to help her do that."

Rivera also said he would give her a chance to clear the air, and refused to say if any one issue was a "deal-breaker."

"If I'm not satisfied with her answers, then the war goes on," he said.