Wins and Losses for New York’s Immigrants in NYS Budget

April 2nd, 2018

State Maintains Funding For Liberty Defense Project, $500K Increase For Adult Literacy Education, $30M For Safety Net Hospitals, $2M for Refugee Resettlement

No Child Health Plus Expansion, No Tuition Assistance For Dreamers, No Early Voting

NEW YORK, NY – Last week, the New York State Legislature passed the 2018 state budget. The state maintained the $10 million allocated for the Liberty Defense Project, increased Adult Literacy Education funding by $500,000, renewed refugee resettlement support funding for $2 million, and put in new investments for underserved black immigrants, workforce development services and safety net hospitals across the state. The budget failed, however, to include an expansion of Child Health Plus for all immigrants, and – yet again – tuition assistance for Dreamers, either through the Dream Act or through the Excelsior scholarship.

Steven Choi, Executive Director the New York Immigration Coalition, issued the following statement:

“At a time when New York State’s 4.4 million immigrants are under daily attack by the Trump Administration, our Governor and Legislature need to step up to the challenge. “

“The state’s $10 million reinvestment for the Liberty Defense Project was an important step. While community needs remain immense, particularly upstate, it is critical that providers continue to roll out the legal services and outreach efforts so that New York’s immigrants are protected from deportation. We thank the Governor, the Assembly, and the Independent Democratic Conference for helping ensure this continuity.”

“The budget also showed modest increases in investment for important services – adult education, health, and workforce development. However, the state – yet again – failed to pass the Dream Act, immigrant youth continue to be excluded from the Governor’s Excelsior scholarship program, and our electeds failed to take a big step by not extending Child Health Plus coverage to all young adults – including Dreamers – up to the age of 29.”


  • $500K increase in Adult Literacy Education funding to support English language learning and adult education classes, but this investment falls critically short of the necessary amount to curb immediate classroom impact from federal funding changes.
  • $10M for the Liberty Defense Project, which is important to continue, but still needs more to cover statewide immigrant legal services, especially in upstate communities.*
  • $30M to support safety net and rural hospitals across the state.
  • A temporary workgroup on Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH) and indigent care (many who need indigent care are low income, people of color, and immigrants) to study funding streams moving forward.
  • $2M to support refugee resettlement providers in New York State.
  • Creation of a Census commission for 2020; despite having no funding through the Budget, this commission will be critical with federal threats to a fair and accurate count that would hurt all New Yorkers.
  • $175M to support a new approach to workforce investments that will leverage strategic regional efforts to meet businesses' short-term workforce needs, improve regional talent pipelines (including immigrant and refugee workers), expand apprenticeships, and address the long-term needs of expanding industries.


  • The Dream Act failed by 4 votes when it was added as a hostile amendment. Undocumented youth continue to be excluded from New York’s Excelsior Program, which provides four years of fully-covered college tuition at SUNY or CUNY.
  • The State again failed to ensure that all young people have access to health care by declining to expand Child Health Plus to age 29 .
  • The State failed to protect health insurance coverage for New Yorkers losing Temporary Protected Status because of federal moves to end the program.
  • The State legislature and Governor failed to expand our participatory democracy by excluding early voting, campaign finance reform, board of election reform, and closing the LLC loophole.


In November 2017, the New York Immigration Coalition presented its Blueprint for Immigrant New York - a broad, comprehensive policy agenda to ensure the success of immigrant communities in New York over the the next decade. In the face of federal threats to immigrant communities, the Blueprint highlights the important role New York State must play, in key areas including healthcare, education, justice reform, and economic opportunity.

New York is home to 4.4 million immigrants who generate an estimated $230 billion in economic output, yet lags behind in terms of legislation--from the DREAM Act, to driver’s license legislation, to workforce development - that enables immigrants to succeed. The Blueprint for Immigrant New York is a roadmap for New York to develop stronger immigrant policies and catch up with other states, such as California, Illinois, and Washington.


2020 Goals

  • EQUAL OPPORTUNITY– Issue driver’s licenses irrespective of immigration status.
  • FAIRNESS IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM – Codify Executive Order 170 by amending New York State law so that state and local law enforcement agencies may not stop, question, investigate or arrest a person based on perceived immigration status or suspected violation of federal immigration law.
  • CIVIC ENGAGEMENT - Engage, educate, and register 20,000 new Americans to vote.

2023 Goals

  • FAIRNESS IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM – Ensure immigration legal defense funding is made permanent, including through amending the Department of State’s mission to ensure renewed funding.
  • HEALTHCARE – Expand affordable comprehensive health coverage to all New York State residents regardless of immigration status.
  • ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT – Develop opportunities for online learning and English language acquisition that incorporates an integration-focused education on areas such as community resources, financial literacy, home ownership, and career training services and mobility.

2028 Goals

  • HEALTHCARE – Pass the New York Health Act.
  • CIVIC ENGAGEMENT – Ensure Board of Elections reform to include automatic voter registration, early voting, increased language access, and a decrease in the number of days required to change party affiliation.
  • EDUCATION – Ensure culturally and linguistically competent early childhood programs and care serve all interested immigrant families across new York State.

2030 Vision

  • EQUAL OPPORTUNITY - Immigrant New Yorkers have equal opportunity to access local and state services and are protected from exploitation.
  • FAIRNESS IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM - Immigrant New Yorkers have more full and equal access to the justice system.
  • HEALTHCARE - Immigrant New Yorkers can safely access affordable, quality, and equitable healthcare that meets their needs.
  • EDUCATION - Immigrant New Yorkers have equitable access to quality education from birth to adulthood that allows them to lead more meaningful and successful lives.
  • ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT - Immigrant New Yorkers have more access to economic mobility, whether through employment or entrepreneurship.
  • CIVIC ENGAGEMENT - Immigrant New Yorkers are able to more meaningfully engage in elections.

*Earlier this year, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) together with the Immigrant Advocates Response Collaborative (I-ARC) released a 2018 update on the groundbreaking report No Safe Harbor: Challenges in Obtaining Immigration Legal Services in New York.

No Safe Harbor is the only comprehensive study of the political, geographic, and systemic issues that prevent immigrant New Yorkers from protecting their legal rights in the current climate. The report is based on a statewide survey of 34 legal service providers and the communities they serve.

Findings include:

  • New York providers benefit from $65.2 million in funding (city and state), one of the highest public investments in immigration legal services, but lack transparency in how funds are allocated.
  • Rigid contract requirements create obstacles for providers and prevent clients from accessing the services they need.
  • 79% of state funding covered citizenship services;
  • The top three case types are: Defense of Removal, representation before ICE, and complex case representation.
  • Immigrants in large portions of New York state have no access to legal services, even from private providers. Of the 158 immigration legal service providers in New York, 121 (75%) are in New York City; many upstate New York regions have 0-2 providers.