As Pandemic Inequity Widens, Advocates and Allies Demand NYC Invest in Immigrant Communities in FY23 Budget

New York, NY—Today, the New York Immigration Coalition, allies, and immigrant New Yorkers rallied on the steps of City Hall to demand equitable access to opportunity and inclusion in New York City’s fiscal year 2023 budget. Advocates are calling for a $25 million fund to implement the Our City, Our Vote law (Local Law 11-2022); additional investments in educational programs for immigrant youth and families, including $4 million to expand the Linking Immigrant Children to Early Childhood Education (LIFE) project citywide and $2.1 million in a transfer school pilot program; maintaining the $4 million in funding for Access Health NYC; renewing $58.2 million in funding for immigration legal services; and investing $2 million to continue the Key to the City program.

As immigrant New Yorkers continue to be excluded from city services, including education programs, health services, civic participation, and legal support, advocates demand these necessary investments to address long standing injustices that have been deeply exacerbated by the pandemic.

“I represent a vibrant district in Queens that is home to a largely immigrant population, and they all came to neighborhoods like Flushing because they saw a better life for themselves here in New York City,” said Council Member Sandra Ung. “They and others like them live, work and raise their families in our city and contribute billions of dollars in taxes each year, but they don’t have a voice when it comes to the direction of their own communities. Last year, the City Council decided to change that and passed legislation giving immigrants living here legally the right to vote in municipal elections. Now, a small group of people want to overturn that. That is why I and nearly 20 of my City Council colleagues have signed a letter calling for the new budget to fully fund outreach efforts so that our city’s newest voters are registered, informed about their rights, and ready to make their voices heard at the polls next year. We need to send a message to opponents of Local Law 11 that we are committed to its success.”

"With over 3 million immigrants in New York City, we must ensure that the fy23 budget prioritizes the lives of immigrant New Yorkers. As an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who grew up in Northern Manhattan, I understand the many challenges facing immigrants in our city. I am proud to stand with the New York Immigration Coalition and allies to expand voting access, increase legal services, fund anti-hate programs, improve health outcomes and address educational gaps. As a member of the Committee on Immigration, I enthusiastically support these initiatives," said Councilmember Carmen De La Rosa.

“The budget is a document that outlines New York City’s values and priorities,” said Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition. “And right now, immigrant New Yorkers who have been on the frontlines of this pandemic, taking care of the sick and elderly, delivering our food, and cleaning our workplaces for more than two years need to know that New York City has got their back. It’s time for our city to invest in keeping our hard-working immigrant families safe, healthy and thriving. The New York City Council and Mayor Adams must fully fund programs for our communities, including educational programs for students and families from 3K through high school, Access Health NYC, immigration legal services, the Key to the City program, and the implementation of municipal voting rights codified in Local Law 11-2022. Immigrant New Yorkers must have equitable access to opportunity and resources to ensure New York City’s full recovery from the hardships of this pandemic.”

"Every year, Advocates for Children of NY helps newly-arrived, immigrant youth enroll in high school, but we continue to struggle with identifying schools that are willing to accept older, newcomer students ages 16-21 who require intensive English instruction, academic remediation, and socio-emotional support in order to graduate. Oftentimes, the only appropriate school options for this population of students are “ELL transfer schools,” but of the five that exist, only one is located outside of Manhattan, making it nearly impossible for youth in Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island to attend those schools,” said Rita Rodriguez-Engberg, Director, Immigrant Students’ Rights Project at Advocates for Children of New York. “By funding programs to support this population of students at existing transfer schools in their neighborhoods, the City has an opportunity to show our immigrant students that good schools are in fact an option for them."

"As a city that prides itself on being welcoming, diverse and inclusive to all, we must live out our values and ensure immigrants are fully included in our schools so they can thrive. Investing in both the LIFE project and the First Step Transfer Pilot Program is necessary to ensure that everyone has access to a quality education,” said Aracelis Lucero, Executive Director of Masa. “We cannot truly call ourselves a sanctuary city if the basic human right to an education is denied to recently arrived immigrant youth seeking out a better life for themselves and their families. We can and must do better. We are proud to work alongside the New York Immigration Coalition’s Education Collaborative and LIFE partners to address the critical need to expand culturally and linguistically responsive enrollment supports for immigrants and the number of seats available for older and recently arrived immigrant youth ages 16-21 so they can pursue their educational goals with the proper support.”

“Across the five boroughs, nearly four thousand older newcomer immigrants struggle to access appropriate schools that can support their unique educational needs,” said Francois Nzi, Executive Director of New York Math Academy and Coaching Services (NYMACS). "Older students often have to support their families economically, take care of younger siblings and aging relatives, and may have experienced high levels of trauma on their journey to this country. It is unacceptable that they are shut out of neighborhood programs and that they must travel long distances simply to access educational and socio-emotional supports. Transfer schools that serve older newcomer immigrant students are almost exclusively located in Manhattan. This year, New York City must finally expand access to transfer schools in each and every borough to serve students where they live and work.”