After Release of New District Maps, Advocates Assess Impact on NY’s 4.4 Million Immigrants

New York, NY-Today, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), and several community-based organizations held a media briefing focused on the impact of New York’s redistricting process on immigrant New Yorkers. The briefing came after the NYS legislature’s release of new congressional and state legislative districts. Last month, the Independent Redistricting Commission failed to meet the January 25 deadline to send a final set of proposed district maps to the NYS legislature. 

“The blunt fact remains that we worked far too hard to secure an accurate count of our communities to settle for anything less than a truly fair set of district maps,” said Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). “Now, it is incumbent upon our state legislature to pass a redistricting plan that keeps communities together and is fully inclusive of their input – including communities of color and immigrant communities. The State Legislature must use the input submitted to the Independent Redistricting commission when drawing its maps, and it must hold a hearing for public comment after it draws its maps and before they are voted on.” 

Earlier this year, Albany legislators voted down the two sets of maps the Commission unveiled. The maps detail New York’s congressional and state legislative districts. With the Democrats holding a very narrow majority in the US House of Representatives, these maps will have a national impact. 

“A fair redistricting process means that we center the voices of people most impacted while keeping communities of interest whole such that we can elect a representative of our choice,” said Mon Yuck Yu, Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff, Academy of Medical & Public Health Services. “Not only are we disappointed that a bipartisan compromise could not be reached for a single set of maps through the IRC, but the State Legislature is voting on a set of maps this week without public input.  When our communities are kept whole and compact, we are stronger and more visible. To ensure that this process is fair and equitable, we must have a public hearing after LATFOR’s maps are released and we urge Governor Hochul to restrain from signing any bills adopting the maps until a public hearing occurs. A more equitable redistricting process will enable us to streamline resources for the most vulnerable.”

“Since the beginning of the Independent Commission on Redistricting began its testimonies last year we have participated in each and every single one asking and demanding for Bay Ridge to be given a  fair district,” said Yafa Dias, Lead Organizer, Arab American Association of NY. “As an organization that has been led by community members and present for over 20 years in Bay Ridge. We have the right to ask for the Arab and Muslim communities in Bay Ridge and Fort Hamilton we serve to be seen, placed, and counted as one district. We need and want representatives and congressional members that will listen, assist and advocate on our behalf.   

“There’s no way to sugarcoat the situation; the Independent Redistricting Commission, a bipartisan group tasked with redrawing district lines, failed New Yorkers,” said Toyin Omolola, President and CEO, DSI International Inc. “The Commission’s failures directly threaten the political representation of communities long shut out of the process, including New York’s growing African immigrant communities, which my organization, DSI International Inc., works with closely.”  

“At first glance, redistricting appears mundane even boring, but make no mistake it is a process that will have enormous impacts on every New Yorker,” said Mimi Pierre Johnson, President, Elmont Cultural Center. “Every ten years, whether we participate in the redistricting process or not, we allow politicians to make decisions about our lives. We, the people, are supposed to choose our representatives, not politicians choosing us. Our district maps should benefit us rather than allowing a handful of elected officials to retain their grips on power.”

“As an immigrant rights organization that has been working with Latinx communities in Suffolk County for years, it’s very clear that Latinx immigrants have been historically underrepresented despite their growing presence in the area,” said Daniela Robles, Social Worker, SEPA Mujer. “At SEPA Mujer we worked around the clock to ensure that the immigrant populations of Long Island were counted in the 2020 US Census. Redistricting is Census 2.0 and it’s crucial to have fair representation considering the increase of the Latinx population in Suffolk County alone.”