Mayor de Blasio, Invest in Our Immigrant Communities!

May 15th, 2019

Advocates call on Mayor to safeguard against federal attacks and fully fund vital programs

New York, NY– Today, the New York Immigration Coalition, immigrant rights advocates, and affected individuals rallied on the steps of City Hall to call on Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to fully fund programs that support the protection and integration of New York’s immigrant communities in the final City budget.

New York is home to over 3 million immigrants, who make immense contributions to the social and economic fabric of our city. As the Trump administration continues to vilify and destabilize immigrant communities, the responsibility falls to the City to ensure that immigrant New Yorkers have the resources they need to not only feel secure but to thrive.

“Immigrants make up over a third of New York’s population, and during these politically hostile times, it’s up to Mayor de Blasio to make sure our immigrant communities are supported and protected against Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. NYC needs to fully fund programs to expand language access, improve adult literacy programs, ensure access to legal counsel and healthcare, and conduct an accurate Census 2020 with the support of community based organizations—these are investments that will strengthen our entire city and improve the well being of all residents,” said Steve Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

“It is not surprising that adequate resources have been routinely identified as necessary for successful outreach and enrollment, especially during a federal climate that threatens access to health care for immigrants and others who are marginalized. Access Health NYC initiative is a city council funded project that has successfully proven that in-person assistance and “touches” or community based contacts are vital to knowing about option to coverage, navigation, and understanding our rights to health care, particularly among hard-to-reach populations. But that can all be undone for community based organizations in the initiative and many other city public health effort. All because of a budget cut in state aid known as Article 6 stemming from a failure in Mayor-Governor negotiations,” said Anthony Feliciano, Director of the Commission on the Public’s Health System.

“In this sanctuary city, immigrants are under attack. With increasing restrictions on asylum; outrageous policies by the immigration courts; looming changes in the public charge ground of inadmissibility; restrictions on non-citizens’ access to federally-subsidized housing; and the continuing challenges of immigration detention, New Yorkers are in dire need of legal assistance. We urge the City Council and the Mayor to protect our communities by continuing to invest in vital, life-saving legal services and expanding programs like NYIFUP,” said Hasan Shafiqullah, Attorney-in-Charge of the Immigration Law Unit at The Legal Aid Society.


Census 2020

Our quality of life depends on an accurate census. City planning agencies use Census data to decide where to build new infrastructure and provide community services such as roads, public transit, hospitals, health centers, schools, and senior centers.

For the first time, the Census will be conducted primarily through online responses. 31% in New York City lack a home broadband subscription, including 56% of the lowest-income households. The Census Bureau is at its lowest funding level at this point in the decade than at any other time in the past several decades.

Populations particularly at risk of being undercounted include immigrants, people with limited English, people of color, Muslims, low-income residents, renters, young parents, Native Americans, and homeless residents.

Healthcare and Coverage

New York needs to renew $2.5 million in funding for Access Health NYC. Access Health NYC provides critical resources to increase the capacity of trusted community-based organizations (CBOs) to educate the communities they serve about health access, coverage, and rights.

There are 600,000 uninsured NYC residents, half of whom are undocumented. Uninsured rates are likely to increase due to federal policies designed to destabilize the health care system and

threaten immigrants’ ability to maintain their status if they enroll in certain public benefits. Lack of coverage on the basis of immigration status causes: families to suffer worse health; hospitals to provide care for which they may not be reimbursed; gaps in coverage that lead to cost inefficiencies and poor-quality care. Outreach and education to vulnerable, hard-to-reach communities through Access Health NYC is more important than ever given the uncertainty created by the Trump administration.

Language Access

To expand language access and increase the supply of trained, vetted immigration legal interpreters, New York should commit $2.25 million dollars through a City Council budget initiative to be provided to community-based nonprofit organizations.

The City will benefit from increased quality of language services, greater transparency on language services usage, more efficient use of City-funded attorney hours, and reduced costs through economies of scale.

Increasing funding for the NYC Council’s Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative by $750,000 dollars would enable immigrant community-based organizations to develop and launch three language services worker-owned cooperatives—one for African LLDs, one for Asian LLDs, and one for indigenous Latin American LLDs. There is tremendous potential for immigrant community organizations to develop language services worker co-ops that provide services such as interpretation, translation, and ESOL instruction and opportunities for skilled employment and business ownership.

Legal Services

There are nearly 106,000 immigrants facing imminent deportation in New York City’s immigration courts, up from 70,000 at this time last year. Many already lack access to counsel in these removal proceedings, and these numbers continue to swell as new enforcement policies become increasingly aggressive.

The City 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. This should include $16.5 million earmarked for the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP).

The City should invest $1M as a pilot program to provide funding for immigration legal service providers to hire social workers who could act as case managers, working with clients to navigate benefits enrollment, school and landlord interactions, helping obtain necessary documents from city, state, and federal agencies, and providing crucial emotional and mental health support to clients navigating a crisis moment in their lives. This would allow lawyers to focus on legal work and help reduce burnout within the legal staff as well.

Multi-Generational Education

New York City needs to restore $4M and baseline $12M for Adult Literacy Funding so that thousands of immigrant and other adult learners do not lose their seats in English language programs across the City.

While 2.2 million New Yorkers lack English language proficiency, a high school diploma, or both, less than 3% of those in need are currently able to access adult literacy services in New York City. By denying accessible, community-based adult education programming, we are leaving behind immigrants and their families who contribute significantly to the City’s economy.

Over the last two fiscal years, NYC has made one-time investments of $12 million to adult literacy programs across New York City. While these investments are important, single-year funding does not allow DYCD to update reimbursement rates & program design. Funding instability prevents programs from hiring full-time staff with benefits and causes them to lose their best teachers as they search for more stable employment.