Albany, NY-Following the introduction of the New York State Assembly and Senate’s one-house budget resolutions, immigrant New Yorkers and advocates celebrated several critical wins for FY 2022—including $2.1 billion for a fund for excluded workers, $20 million for a crucial expansion of health coverage, a $7.8 million reinvestment in adult literacy education, and a $26.4 million reinvestment in the Liberty Defense Project and the Office for New Americans. The wins came as the state continues to grapple with the pandemic and its fallout.
After the Assembly and the Senate passed resolutions on their one-house budgets, Murad Awawdeh, interim Co-Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, issued the following statement:
“For over a year, immigrant New Yorkers have had to bear the brunt of this pandemic on the frontlines with little relief or support from New York State or the federal government. But yesterday's budget resolutions provide proof of how essential immigrant New Yorkers will be to the State’s recovery. These commitments mean more than half a million immigrant households who have been struggling with unemployment but shut out of all our safety net programs will finally get desperately-needed assistance, regardless of their immigration status. The budget will ensure that countless New Yorkers will have access to a lawyer when they face the country’s immigration courts. And the budget will ensure that our immigrant neighbors, friends, and family members who are still suffering from COVID symptoms will get the care they need to keep their families and the state healthy and whole. While more remains to be done to ensure that every New Yorker has an equal chance at recovery, today’s budget announcement is an important first step in New York State’s road to recovery.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdowns, the NYIC has fought for deep and meaningful investments for New York’s 4.4 million immigrants. In the New York State Assembly and Senate one-house budgets the NYIC secured funding for the following priorities:
$2.1 billion for a Fund for Excluded Workers (FEW) to:
- Provide flat-rate monthly cash payments directly to families akin to what a typical low-wage worker with Unemployment Insurance receives.
- Provide monthly payments retroactive to the start of the COVID-impacted unemployment crisis, and continuing at least through the end of 2020, like Unemployment Insurance, with triggers to continue the program thereafter.
- Require there be a flexible application process, and proof requirements are given the urgent crisis situation. Include self-attestation and information that off-the-books workers are able to provide.
$26.4 million for legal immigration services and the Office for New Americans to:
- Enable legal representatives within the Liberty Defense Project to continue work on existing cases.
- Allow new providers to serve 1,000 New Yorkers needing legal assistance to protect themselves against federal anti-immigrant enforcement.
- Enable community-based organizations to provide outreach, know your rights presentations, and community education.
- Restore total funding to the ONA Opportunity Centers and bring the number of centers back to its original 27.
- Repair an additional 400 citizenship applications, host another 48 intake days, and restore English classes for approximately 3,000 New Yorkers a year.
$20 million for Coverage4All New Yorkers who have had COVID-19 (A01585/S2549) to:
- Provide full temporary health insurance to low-income New Yorkers who have had confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 and who are otherwise ineligible for coverage because of their immigration status.
$7.8 million for Adult Literacy Education to:
- Support English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and High School Equivalency (HSE) Preparation classes through the New York State Education Department.