NYIC Releases City Legislative Priorities for 2018: “Protect & Invest” In New York’s Immigrants

February 13th, 2018

City Must Step Up Against Federal Assault On Immigrants, as State Slashes Key Programs in Budget

NEW YORK, NY– This morning, the New York Immigration Coalition hosted its annual City Legislative Breakfast– an in-depth, comprehensive event highlighting key issues to ensure the success of New York City’s immigrant communities in the upcoming year. In light of federal attacks against immigrant communities and state budget cuts to vital programs including legal and adult literacy services, this year’s breakfast emphasized where and how New York City must “protect and invest” in healthcare, education, adult literacy, and legal services for our immigrant communities.

“New York City is home to 3.3 million immigrants, who make up more than a third of the population, contribute over $8 billion in income taxes, and are a vital part of the fabric of our neighborhoods. At an unprecedented time of crisis, New York needs to protect and invest in our friends and neighbors – and be an example to the world of what truly makes America great,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

“New York City has long been a beacon of light and hope for immigrants throughout the world,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “With continued threats from this federal administration, it is more important than ever that we implement policies and programs that support immigrants and ensure they are safe here. I want to thank the New York Immigration Coalition for standing up for our shared values and leading the way to protect all New Yorkers.”

"Fighting for this immigration agenda is about standing up for the families that call America home and protecting the values that have always made this country great. With a xenophobic agenda in Washington that is eroding who we are as a country, we're facing extraordinary challenges. That's why we in New York must lead in the fight like never before," said NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Legal Services Recommendations: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, and unrestricted legal services to immigrants.

  • Renew the $48.5 million in funding allocated in Budget Year 2017-2018. The City Council and Mayor should renew last year’s investments across all programs to ensure continuity of services and to help defend immigrants against aggressive, anti-immigrant policies from Washington that are tearing families and communities apart.
  • Remove the criminal carve out from all City contracts for legal services. The restrictions on access to legal services based on criminal record fly in the face of the City’s commitment to redressing an unequal system, create new inequality unnecessarily, and decreases access to services for all by adding administrative and service-related burdens on legal service providers.
  • Create more equitable and transparent funding streams. City Funding should be dispersed in a way that supports providers equally across the city, including distributing additional funding through competitive bidding processes so that small and medium groups also have access. The City also needs to support actual needs of providers, including higher per-case prices, more support for supervisory positions, and allowing for higher rates of case re-enrollment.
  • Protect Immigrant New Yorkers from Scams. The City Council and the Mayor should invest $2M into the Protecting Immigrant New Yorkers (PINY) Task Force to work with the Department of Consumer affairs in broadening and bolstering their education and enforcement efforts of those who seek to defraud immigrants. The PINY Task Force will also work with law enforcement agencies to implement systems specifically to assist immigrant victims of fraud.

Education Recommendations:

  • Make Good on $13M for English Language Learners (ELLs): Chancellor Fariña has taken important steps to elevate and support ELLs. Prior to leaving, she needs to make good on the $13M allocated and publicly announced for FY 2015, which was to address inequity in central staffing. This remains a disconcerting issue and cannot be a precedent set for the next Chancellor.
  • Boost Family Welcome Centers’ Ability to Support ELL Families: Progress has been made recently in supporting ELL and immigrant families at Family Welcome Centers (borough enrollment offices), but more work remains to be done to make them feel welcoming and to identify and match students with schools best positioned to support students’ success.
  • Choose a Chancellor Who Celebrates Bilingualism: New York City’s next Chancellor must acknowledge and leverage the incredible linguistic and cultural assets our ELLs and immigrant students possess with a strong commitment to bilingual education. Likewise, the new Chancellor must ensure immigrant families have meaningful opportunities to engage.
  • Continue to Strengthen Language Access Services: We applaud the DOE’s major commitment in 2016 to supporting immigrant families through language access services and the results that have come from this investment. The DOE needs to ensure that translation and interpretation capacity grows along with the school system's expansion into 3K and other new areas.

​Adult Literacy Recommendations:

  • Restore and baseline $12 million in adult literacy programming for community-based organizations, CUNY, and the public libraries to prevent 6,000 adult learners from losing their classes and address the crisis of 2.2 million New Yorkers who lack English proficiency, a high school diploma, or both.
  • Commit to a new procurement that adequately reflects the true costs of providing high quality, comprehensive adult literacy classes to stop the chronic underfunding of programs and allow for full-time instruction, case management, and a full range of necessary student retention and success supports.
  • Launch an Adult Literacy Task Force to examine the current adult literacy system and develop recommendations for building a high-quality, well-coordinated, comprehensive system that advances equity and opportunity for all 2.2 million New Yorkers in need of adult literacy services.

Health Recommendations: In the face of sweeping federal change, act to ensure that New York City’s health care systems provide access to culturally responsive and affordable care for all of the city’s immigrants.

  • Support more organizations through Access Health NYC by increasing funding from $1 million to $5 million. Access Health NYC provides critical resources to increase the capacity of trusted CBOs to educate the communities they serve about health access, coverage, and protections, but only thirteen council districts have organizations with support to do so. Federal threats and reforms in the health care and immigration systems make support for this work even more critical as CBOs need to respond to a rapidly changing landscape.
  • Create an uninsured care program focusing on primary care access and care coordination for low-income immigrants who are not eligible for public health insurance programs due to their immigration status. The ActionHealthNYC pilot created a primary care access and coordination structure for undocumented New Yorkers but was terminated in 2017. Chief among its features were enhanced access to a true primary care medical home and linkages between H+H and federally-qualified health centers. H+H has also investigated ways to improve its “Options” fee-scale program for the uninsured. The city should build off these efforts to create a more comprehensive uninsured care program.
  • Design a coordinated approach to addressing increased mental health needs of immigrant New Yorkers in the current sociopolitical environment. Anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric in Washington have caused a spike in anxiety and stress linked to fear and uncertainty, exacerbating an existing lack of behavioral health services for immigrant communities. ThriveNYC and NYC Well should make outreach and engagement with immigrant New Yorkers an increasing priority with dedicated resources.

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