As Albany Combats Coronavirus, Electeds Turn Their Backs on Immigrant New Yorkers

Albany, NY-Today, immigrants and allies from across the state marched through the corridors of power in Albany demanding support for a broader immigrant protection and empowerment agenda, “New York’s Promise Package,” to defend against the Trump administration’s ongoing assaults and separation of families. Advocates called for the renewal and enhancement of funding for desperately-needed immigration legal representatives for New York’s families, adult literacy education to support community integration, as well as support for refugee programs to continue to provide services that have contributed to the economic revitalization and population growth refugees have brought to many of New York’s communities.

“The crisis is here: President Trump is using the coronavirus crisis to further his anti-immigrant agenda to another devastating level,” said Steve Choi, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition. “Yet with only 20 days left before the budget is due, Albany is threatening to leave protections for 4.5 million New Yorkers completely out of the discussion. The Legislature and the Governor must set an example for the rest of the nation by standing up to these attacks, ensuring that immigrant communities have the support they need to keep our families, communities and economy stable. Inaction is not an option. The lives of too many New York families hang in the balance.”

In previous years, Governor Cuomo has funded the Liberty Defense Project (LDP), a program providing a limited amount of free legal services to immigrants across New York state. However, this year the Governor eliminated funding for the program in his 2021 Executive Budget, and the Assembly and Senate have not indicated their level of support. Given the length of time it takes to resolve an immigration case, and in order to ensure that current LDP clients continue to have access to their legal representatives and that legal service providers are able to take on new cases as well, the LDP must not only be renewed - but funding must be increased for the first time since its inception in 2017. Advocates are urging elected officials to protect the rights and needs of New York’s 4.5 million immigrants living in our state from Trump’s harmful policies by fully funding "New York's Promise Package."

“As the proud State Senator to a district with many immigrants, I see firsthand how much immigrants contribute to our communities,” said State Senator Andrew Gounardes. “Services to enrich and enhance the ability of immigrants to thrive in New York are key to ensuring that our immigrant communities continue to contribute to the culture and economy of the neighborhoods they live in. At a time when immigrants are under attack, our State must stand up and ensure New York remains a beacon of hope for immigrants from around the world.”

“For many immigrant New Yorkers, an attorney is the only thing standing between them and deportation,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “Nearly 80% of immigrants with attorneys win their cases, while only 15% of immigrants without attorneys are successful. New York’s Promise Package is a crucial way to help immigrant New Yorkers by funding immigrant legal services, refugee assistance and adult literacy. I’m proud to stand with the NYIC and so many Senate and Assembly colleagues to support immigrants and refugees in every corner of our state.”

“With a rising immigrant population and cultural diversity throughout the nation, New York must support the right to language access, education and legal services for our communities,” said State Senator Jessica Ramos. “Adult literacy education allows immigrants to be active participants in the workforce, communities, and lives of their families. We need to fully fund these resources and continue to increase funding to support additional services that protect the very people which power our businesses, our workforce, and so much more. Many thanks to the New York Immigration Coalition for their keeping our families and neighbors at the forefront of this movement.”

“Immigrants and refugees are at the core of what make New York great,” said State Senator Luis Sepulveda. “It is vital we provide the resources and opportunities necessary for them to succeed and thrive, including access to legal services, resettlement support, and adult literacy education. I commend the NY Immigration Coalition and other leaders fighting for greater immigrant and refugee rights in New York State, which is exponentially crucial in this time of harmful federal policies and growing global health risks.”

“We need permanent and substantial immigration defense funding to protect our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz. “The Trump administration has demonstrated that it will go to any end in order to terrorize and attack immigrant communities, especially those of color. I am urging my colleagues and the Governor to not only to restore the immigrant defense funding that was cut from the proposed budget this year, but to increase the amount drastically so that the thousands of New Yorkers in detention and deportation proceedings statewide are given representation. The statistics are clear: the difference between having an attorney or not having an attorney can mean the difference between life or death.”

“I stand with the New York Immigration Coalition in their call for increased funding to support our immigrant communities through Adult Literacy Education, refugee services, and legal assistance,” said Assemblyman Ron Kim. “In a time where immigrants are constantly pushed to the margins of society through punitive and exclusionary measures, we must invest in initiatives that offer them hope and opportunity.”

“I thank the NYIC for their advocacy, especially when it comes to refugees because New York is a state that proudly welcomes refugees from around the world," said Assemblyman Sean Ryan. "Refugees are helping to grow the population of upstate cities and are adding to the amazing diversity of communities across our great state. With a federal government determined to roll back progress, it is critically important to continue our support for refugee resettlement agencies in this year's budget. I'm proud to stand with my colleagues and advocates from every corner of New York to push for continued state investment.”

“Two-thirds of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, New York’s fastest-growing racial group, have arrived within the last ten years and have had significant contact with the immigration system. Immigrant New Yorkers are under unprecedented attack, whether through cruel federal policies that restrict access to services or through ICE officers patrolling our streets and institutions to tear families apart,” said Amy Torres, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC). “New York must deeply invest in the resources that protect refugee and immigrant communities by expanding enhanced services and legal support, as well as adult literacy programs to bridge communities to the services that empower them.”

“Immigrants are such a vital part of New York State that helping them to thrive helps make our state stronger and better,” said David Dyssegaard Kallick, Director of Immigration Research, Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI). “That’s why FPI supports the full agenda of the New York Immigration Coalition. FPI feels especially proud of our state’s enhanced services to refugees program. At a time when refugees have come under attack, New York stood up and said we believe in the humanitarian mission of helping refugees, and we also see the ways that refugees help our communities to grow. This is the perfect moment to expand that funding from $2 million to $5 million – it’s an investment that helps refugees, and helps all of us.”

“We are confident that New York lawmakers will continue to stand firmly with immigrants by fully funding the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) and all of NY’s critical legal service programs in this year’s budget,” said Kica Matos, Director of the Vera Institute of Justice’s Center on Immigration and Justice. “These programs, which are supported by 93% of all New Yorkers, promote dignity, fairness, and family unity for immigrants, and put NY firmly at the forefront of the national movement to stand up to federal attacks on immigrants.”

Background:

New York’s Promise Package

  • $25 Million for Immigrant Legal Services:
    • Invest $25 million in immigration legal services to ensure that New Yorkers facing complex immigration issues have access to legal support and assistance.
  •  $5 Million to Expand the New York State Enhanced Services to Refugees Program:
    • Invest $5 million in the New York State Enhanced Services to Refugees Program (NYSESRP) to help refugee resettlement agencies more fully serve refugees already in their communities and attract others to areas that recognize refugees as contributors to population growth and economic revitalization.
  • $25 Million for Adult Literacy Education:
    • Invest $25 million in Adult Literacy Education (ALE) to support high-quality, community-based learning for adults.

COVID-19 Resources

Find resources for immigrant New Yorkers during the COVID-19 pandemic here