“The 2017 budget is a disappointment for our four million immigrant New Yorkers, at a time when President Trump’s Muslim bans, deportation threats, and proposed budget cuts have directly threatened our communities. Although we are pleased with the IDC’s historic investment of $10 million for critical immigration services, there remain unaddressed gaps in legal services, undocumented youth have been excluded from the Excelsior Scholarship, and the budget did not address other important issues such as adult education. Regardless, this is still our New York and we will keep fighting to ensure that it remains a place for all of us,” said Steve Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition.
There are some bright spots in the budget, in funding for critical immigrant services such as:
- $2M for refugee resettlement services
- $40M for safety net health care institutions
- $10M for six different immigrant rights organizations
Thanks to the efforts of the IDC, the state has allocated $10 million to fund a variety of programs that will address the critical needs of immigrant communities across New York State, threatened by Trump’s draconian policies.
The IDC’s historic $10 million investment should not mask the fact that there are still major gaps in immigration legal defense services, such as the legal needs of thousands of immigrants who face deportation but are not detained. This is a critical unmet gap, and lawyers report that they turn away countless people who may be able to stay but cannot afford a lawyer.
- Excelsior Scholarship
The Governor made a conscious decision to exclude thousands of young undocumented New Yorkers from his signature Excelsior Scholarship which provides tuition assistance to low income students. His decision is mystifying and puts the lie to the Governor’s professed support for the New York State DREAM Act. A college affordability plan that leaves out undocumented students will only widen the opportunity gap and cripple New York’s economy.
- Adult literacy education
Year after year, the New York State budget leaves adult learners behind. Our state faces a growing crisis with over 3.5 million adult New Yorkers lacking the skills they need to achieve: a high school diploma, English language proficiency, or both. With no increase this year to the Adult Literacy Education (ALE) funding steam, and looming changes from the federal government that will re-purpose nearly $8m in funding for English language and civics instruction, New York's budget is holding back our economy, denying New Yorkers the skills to gain better-paying jobs, and impeding the integration of our immigrant communities. At a moment when we need New York to be a strong and resilient force, this is an exceptionally disappointing outcome.
The New York Immigration Coalition is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees. The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.