The current political climate has brought fear and uncertainty to immigrant communities, leaving them vulnerable to scams
In light of increased anxiety in immigrant communities across the country, the New York Immigration Coalition and Qualitas of Life Foundation released a new guide that details the steps immigrant New Yorkers can take to understand and safeguard their finances, regardless of their immigration status.
Funded by the New York City Council through the NYIC's Key to the City Initiative, Your Money, Your Future: A Basic Guide for Financial Education and Empowerment provides a basic overview of the American financial system, with the aim to educate and better inform immigrant communities. The guide navigates solutions to the barriers that prevent immigrants from reaching their full economic potential and security, including a lack of reliable information, inaccessible financial services, and language barriers. These barriers cause New York's immigrant communities to fall prey to fraud and financial abuse, and to resort to insecure and costly informal banking systems.
“New York’s 4.5 million immigrants play an integral role in our communities, and when their ability to live, work and raise families is compromised, we all pay a price,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “During this time of uncertainty, when many are grappling with fear due to the anti-immigrant rhetoric coming out of Washington, it is critical that we develop accessible tools that move hard-working families closer to achieving financial stability and success.”
"We see an immigrant community that is very driven and resourceful, however without the proper tools and accurate information on how to navigate the financial system, their potential to reach financial security is hindered by their tendency to rely on informal, costly alternatives," said Executive Director of Qualitas of Life Foundation, Susana Camarena.
The guide used focus groups to identify urgent needs within the community, and provides readers with information they need to improve their personal finances, including basic financial management skills, a list of reliable service providers in New York, and tips on avoiding immigrant-targeting scams.
Your Money, Your Future will be available in seven commonly spoken languages and distributed to community members at the New York Immigration Coalition’s Key to the City events. Key to the City is an initiative funded by the New York City Council that supports the city's immigrant communities with consular, legal, education and social services. Since 2011, the NYIC has held 51 Key to the City Events, which have served over 34,000 New Yorkers from 75 countries.
"This financial guide is an excellent resource for immigrant families navigating the financial system. It also encourages financial planning, budgeting and how to avoid fraudulent practices that so many immigrant are a target of," said Gonzalo Mercado, Executive Director of La Colmena.
“Your Money, Your Future presents financial planning information to new or long-time immigrants in an accessible and easy to understand manner. Community members could read and learn the information themselves or the guide can be used in a workshop or classroom,” said Mae Lee, Executive Director of the Chinese Progressive Association.
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.
Qualitas of Life Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides basic financial education to Hispanic individuals and their families in New York, in order to foster their financial security and improve their standard of living.