New York, NY–Today, the New York Immigration Coalition, allies, and immigrant New Yorkers rallied on the steps of City Hall to demand that the federal, state and city governments step up efforts to provide asylum seekers being bused to New York City with the necessary services and support to ensure they are able to thrive here. The New York Immigration Coalition launched its Welcoming New York Campaign, a federal, state and local advocacy campaign to keep pressure on every level of government to ensure a quicker and more efficient response to the pressing needs of new arrivals.
The rally was live streamed: link.
Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition:
“It has been nearly a month since New York City called attention to the issue of Texas Governor Abbott’s busing of asylum seekers to New York. While we have heard some righteous condemnation of Governor Abbott’s actions from our elected leaders, we have seen little in the way of a coordinated Federal, State, and City government response to meet the needs of new arrivals. Instead, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) coordinated volunteers, mutual aid groups, and organizations like ours to spring into action to fill the gaps with few resources. Now is the time for every level of government to develop a coordinated strategy that includes support for community groups like our member organizations that have both the trust and experience to help immigrants to successfully integrate and thrive in New York. In this urgent moment, Mayor Adams, Governor Hochul and President Biden must act together to meet emergency needs and to elevate America’s commitment to our humanitarian and moral obligations through efficient and coordinated action. We cannot further endanger the lives of vulnerable people who continue to be used like pawns in a game that they had no part in creating.”
State Senator Gustavo Rivera, District 33:
"I want to thank NYIC for launching its Welcoming New York Campaign to advocate for those asylum seekers who are being bused carelessly to our City by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. New York City will always be a sanctuary for those who need it the most, but we have a responsibility to ensure they are supported from all levels of government and adequately respond to the diverse needs of this vulnerable group.”
Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas, District 34:
“New York City is a sanctuary city. I’m proud of the organizations on the ground, volunteers, and everyday New Yorkers showing acts of kindness to migrants coming to our city. While New Yorkers have certainly shown up we need further government response to be swift and organized. I call on our state and federal partners to step up with the financial assistance necessary for us to take care of our new neighbors. Everyone must be housed, taken care of medically, and facilitated towards additional resources and I’m ready to help do my part to help.”
Council Member Shahana Hanif, District 39, Immigrant Committee Chair:
“Our City has seen over 6,000 asylum seekers arrive in our City, with at least 100 more coming each day. We have been struggling to cope since the Texas Governor began callously busing refugees to Port Authority, and without more direct action, we will continue to struggle. I’m proud to stand with NYIC to support their ‘Welcoming New York’ Campaign to ensure every asylum seeker who arrives in our City has the resources not just to survive, but thrive. We cannot keep relying on a patchwork of mutual aid organizations and immigrant rights groups, we need a robust and coordinated response from all levels of government. That means action from the federal government to provide assistance and address the crisis brewing at the southern border, funding from the state to support housing and legal services, as well as services from the City to ensure no one falls through the cracks of our social service network. The bottom line is we can fund the response we need to meet this moment, or we don’t and condemn thousands of people to roam the streets of New York City with nowhere to go. We have the resources; now, let’s get the political will.”
Mark D. Levine, Manhattan Borough President:
“I am exceptionally proud of New Yorkers for stepping up and responding with compassion to people seeking refuge here. This is the true American way. Scores of City staff and volunteers have been running a receiving operation at the Port Authority bus terminal while nonprofits like the New York Immigration Coalition, Make the Road New York, and Rethink Food have played a huge role, providing essentials like cell phones, Metrocards, clothing, and healthy food. This effort will require a coordinated funding effort from all levels of government to ensure that we can meet the need of our new neighbors and support for community groups who have been on the ground since day one.”
Council Member Shaun Abreu, District 7:
"New York was built on its commitment to refugees. Asylum seekers, fleeing their home and abandoned by the Texas government, need support when they arrive in our city. It’s our obligation to make sure they’re welcomed properly. We need to do everything we can to make sure they get medical assistance, housing support, and access, when needed, to the education system. As chair of the Council’s Committee on State and Federal Legislation, I commit to working to bridge the gap between levels of jurisdiction to make sure we take a comprehensive approach to supporting refugees. This will help them in their time of need and also make our city stronger."
Council Member Alexa Avilés, District 38:
"Welcoming new arrivals to our city is important, and what's even more important is that we leverage our city’s resources to ensure our safety net can manage this influx of asylum seekers in a just and dignified manner. I am proud to stand with the New York Immigration Coalition, mutual aid groups, and City agencies in support of a robust city, state and federal coordinated response to this emergency situation."
Council Member Gale A. Brewer, District 6:
“New York City has always been a sanctuary for those seeking refuge. People seeking asylum have arrived at the border of the United States from Central and South America, many of whom are families with children, and they ought to be welcomed and supported through that process. The government must make policy adjustments that respond to this situation with urgency, like returning to a 30-day review previews for applications for employment authorization. I thank the Mayor’s office and the New York Immigration Coalition for their steadfast support of the families and individuals coming to our city in buses; I have been at the Port Authority bus station to see the warm response. We need the same support from the federal government.”
Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez, District 34:
“My office has been working one on one with many of the asylum seekers that have arrived in our already diverse district - they are vibrant, courageous, and simply searching for better opportunities for their families. This experience is not dissimilar to my own family’s experience and is the origin story of almost all New Yorkers. Increased migration should not come as a surprise, and our city should be doing everything it possibly can to support our new neighbors.”
Council Member Rita Joseph, District 40:
“New York City Is a city built by immigrants, including asylum seekers. As we deal with the influx of migrants bussed in by the xenophobic Governor of Texas, let us remember the wise words on the Statue of Liberty: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’ Our city will welcome asylum seekers with open arms, not just because it’s the law, but because it’s the right thing to do.”
Council Member Mercedes Narcisse, District 46:
“I am delighted to join in strong support of the New York immigration Coalition’s Welcoming New York Campaign. Today, we gather to protect the torch held high by lady liberty in New York harbor and are determined to maintain New York City, a place built upon the dreams and hard work of refugees and immigrants from across the globe, as a protector and safe haven for those yearning to breathe free.”
Nilbia Coyote, Executive Director, New Immigrant Community Empowerment:
“Our sisters and brothers from Latin America deserve dignity, respect, opportunity and above all solidarity from our City and our immigrant communities. So far, NICE has processed over 500 new immigrants, very often families with children, to access emergency housing and shelters. For the last couple of months, new arrivals have skyrocketed, and organizations such as ours located in immigrant enclaves continue to work with few resources to provide referrals to health and mental health services, legal services, and essentials such as food and clothing with compassion and care. But they need an organization that will meet their long term needs for economic stability and job training, this is a challenge NICE is prepared to take on! We are scaling up our services to meet the distressing needs of our new community members. We will not allow for corrupt employers to exploit newcomers and prey on their desperation. We demand that the City, the State and Federal governments do their job as well, come together, welcome all those seeking refuge and a better life and support organizations and institutions urgently in need of resources to welcome ALL new immigrants and asylum seekers.”
Lorena Kourousias, Executive Director, Mixteca Organization, Inc.:
“CBO’s are the second home for immigrant communities. Our brothers and sisters are escaping violence, and extreme poverty conditions, exacerbated after COVID-19 health crisis. They are seeking living conditions for them and their children. There is no crime in pursuing a better life. We shouldn’t criminalize immigration. Nobody wants to leave their country if it is not the last option. This is the time to stand up in solidarity with them. This is the time to organize and to advocate for resources to provide support with dignity and humanity. We should receive funding to continue fighting inequality and addressing upcoming challenges. We ask the federal, state and local government to allocate funding to organizations working directly with the asylum seekers.”
Camille Mackler, Executive Director, Immigrant ARC:
“We are proud to be part of this City and State, who continue to show that migration is not a crisis and that it is possible to welcome newcomers with humanity and dignity. Once again, New Yorkers have risen up to meet the challenge and ensure that those who came here to seek protection do not, instead, encounter more harm. At the same time, providers are exhausted and can no longer continue to absorb the never-ending stream of needs for their services without reinforcements. New York City and New York State lead the country in funding for immigration legal services, because we know that providing legal help is the single greatest influence we can have on case outcomes. Immigrants with legal help are far more likely to succeed on applications than those who will be forced to get through the system on their own. To honor the commitment the City and the State have made to immigrant communities for the last decade, they must both increase the level of support to enable providers to hire and train more staff to take on these new cases and help a maximum number of people as possible.”
Yesenia Mata, Executive Director, La Colmena:
“In the past week La Colmena enrolled over 100 new New Yorkers in OSHA and SST courses and held a Know Your Rights clinic for asylum seekers with NYIC. This work is not new for La Colmena or for many on the ground organizations but what is new is the amount of individuals coming to our centers. We currently are not funded to do this type of work and we are super stretched. This is why we need to ensure that the Federal, State, Local government are supporting asylum seekers. Together we need to ensure that we all work as a team at all levels to ensure that NYC continues being a welcoming city for all immigrants.”
Dr. Yomaris Pena, Internal Medicine Specialist and Community Doctor, SOMOS Community Care:
“People's lives should always be above politics, and we need to treat these families and individuals with compassion and dignity. These are refugees from a cruel human conditions. They are arriving scared, sick, tired and as strangers in our city. We join Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams in opening our arms and hearts – and basic medical services – to provide these refugees the care they need. That means meeting their healthcare needs, including treatment and diagnosis for adults as well as immunizations and preventive treatment for children and prenatal care for pregnant women. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. This crisis isn’t ending anytime soon. The buses keep coming. We look forward to continue working with the city and state during any crisis, including this one, as we strive for true equity.”
On the Federal level, the Welcoming New York Campaign advocates that the White House incorporates asylum seekers into the refugee support system, coordinates arrivals with local and state governments, and develops a structure with local and state governments to assess needs, abilities and opportunities. It advocates that the Department of Homeland Security provide funding for shelter and transportation, extends parole for asylum seekers and facilitates expedited work permits, and pushes Texas to ensure asylum seekers give informed consent before entering a bus and are provided with adequate food and medical care.
On the State level, the Welcoming New York Campaign urges New York State Gov. Hochul and the Legislature to provide additional funding for emergency legal support, create Welcome Centers across the state, fund temporary shelters, implement emergency contract reforms, and create a state program of direct support, including housing vouchers, permanent housing, job placement support and funding for transportation outside of New York.
On the City level, The Welcoming New York Campaign thanks Mayor Adams for launching a Welcome Center/Navigation Hub. While this is an important first step, the city must still do more including increasing funding for support work done by community-based organizations, increasing funding for emergency immigration legal services, implementing contract reforms, providing safe housing to all asylum seekers, and expanding eligibility of homelessness support programs.