NYIC & Allies Join Launch of #ChooseWelcome Campaign to Bolster Communities Welcoming Buses with People Seeking Safety

New York, NY–Today, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) joined Families Belong Together and partners from all over the country in launching #ChooseWelcome. This nationwide campaign invites everyday people, community organizations, and elected officials to pledge to stand on the side of welcome as vulnerable people seek safety in their communities. 

The campaign offers an alternative to the misguided political stunts by Governors Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott, and politicians who have been weaponizing cruelty against immigrant families seeking safety. DeSantis flew families to Martha’s Vineyard without their knowledge. And for months, Abbott has bused people seeking safety out of Texas and dropped them off in front of Congress, the Vice President’s house in Washington, D.C., and in other cities like Chicago, New York, and as of this week, Philadelphia without notice, intentionally creating chaos and division.

But at every destination that governors have frivolously sent asylum seekers, everyday people have stepped up and chosen to welcome. They have joined local organizations that have set up dynamic volunteer operations to support every migrant on every bus in every city where they have been sent. #ChooseWelcome will help build collective support for welcoming at a time when it's most needed. 


Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition said:

“While MAGA Republicans, like Texas Governor Greg Abbott, choose to treat asylum seekers like pawns in their continued political stunts, there is a growing movement to push back against this inhumane treatment of people, and to welcome individuals and families seeking refuge from violence and persecution with dignity, respect, and community. Here in New York it’s been reaffirming to see diverse individuals and organizations come together to welcome thousands of asylum seekers with food, clothing, basic necessities and compassion. Their actions represent what is best about this country, and provide proof that we can build a more welcoming society that is community-led, while centering dignity and respect for vulnerable people. The NYIC is proud to join partner organizations from all over the United States to pledge to #ChooseWelcome instead of cruelty or indifference. Every individual across the country has the same choice. New York's response demonstrates that when we #ChooseWelcome we strengthen our individual bonds with each other, and make our collective communities stronger.”


Erin Mazursky, Interim Director, Families Belong Together said:

“Our country faces a critical choice today: cruelty or welcome. Thousands of people across the country are standing up and choosing welcome. I have witnessed this firsthand through the people and volunteers I have met who are providing food, clothing, shelter, and more to create a warm welcome that reflects the best of this country. Anyone can sign the #ChooseWelcome pledge, and together we are showing that there are more people who stand on the side of welcome and dignity than on the side of cruelty. We are here to say that we’ll meet every bus with welcome, every time.”


Mark Levine, Manhattan Borough President said:

"It's incredibly disturbing to see leaders like Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis using migrants as pawns in their cruel political games. But in New York City, we're choosing compassion, donating time and resources to welcome the city's newest arrivals. We need the rest of the nation to follow suit, so I encourage everyone to sign the #ChooseWelcome pledge – it's the true American way."


Donovan Richards, Queens Borough President said:

“I couldn’t be prouder than to stand with the New York Immigration Coalition, who does great work to advocate, to agitate on policy and budget to ensure that our immigrant neighbors have all the support services that they need. As a proud son of an immigrant myself I want you to know that we stand with each and every one of you in your quest to achieve the American dream. We’ll never turn our backs on you in Queens County. We don’t have borders here in Queens County, because we believe in celebrating our diversity. So I am proud to be with you, to stand with you, and we’ll be here each and every day to ensure that the city of New York does everything it can to help you succeed.” 


Alexa Aviles, NYC Council Member District 38 said:

“Our city, our country has a critical choice to make: to choose cruelty or kindness. We #ChooseWelcome. The Governors of Texas and Florida choose cruelty, and are basically sending people using planes and automobiles and buses as tools of punishment and cruelty, sending people to places that they’ve never even asked to go. Stop the human trafficking. Instead, what we should be doing is choosing dignity, and welcoming people from all parts of the world to show them that we can have a dignified system.”


Linda Lee, NYC Council Member District 23 said:

“New York City has always been a sanctuary city, providing refuge for those who are seeking help, seeking freedom, and seeking refuge. So we say no to the policies that are disenfranchising and marginalizing those that are coming here to seek help, and we #ChooseWelcome. We choose to stand by the asylum seekers that are coming into New York City, and we will work together to provide and make sure they are receiving the supports necessary in order to survive and thrive.”


Yesenia Mata, Executive Director, La Colmena said:

“The mission of La Colmena is to empower the immigrant worker through education, culture and organizing so they can learn how to advocate for themselves. Here at La Colmena we #ChooseWelcome because we believe all immigrant workers and asylum seekers should have the right to workforce development and pre-apprenticeship programs so they can join the workforce. Many of us here at La Colmena are children of immigrants, and we know that these types of resources would have been very useful for our parents while we were growing up. All workers regardless of immigration status should have the right to live with dignity and respect.”


Elena, from the Capital Region, member of Columbia County Sanctuary Movement said:

"Estoy aquí en solidaridad con NYIC y organizaciones inmigrantes de todo el estado a exigir al gobierno estatal que apoye la campaña #ChooseWelcome para asegurar que las personas buscan asilo reciban el apoyo que necesitan. Yo soy inmigrante buscando asilo también y se lo difícil que es el proceso de solicitud y por eso es importante apoyar esta campaña.” 


Matt Tice, Director of Vive Shelter, Jericho Road Community Health Center said:

"At Vive Shelter in Buffalo, NY we choose welcome because in the last year over 3000 immigrants have shown up at our door with nowhere else to turn. Our convictions and faith drive us to always share space because something as simple as a bed for the night can be a path to hope." 


Jennifer Connor, Executive Director, Justice for Migrant Families said:

“As an organization at the Northern border that regularly meets people who are traveling to our region and through our region from other countries, I can say we have a choice in front of us. We can choose to pour money into costly and punitive systems like immigrant detention, or we can choose to recognize that we are globally interconnected people. We can recognize each other’s humanity and support each other’s humanity.”


Raquel Flores, Education Coordinator, Mixteca said:

“Mixteca chooses welcome to lessen the impact on asylum seekers who receive handfuls of documents, phone calls and daily interactions without language-based support. MIxteca chooses welcome so migrants can receive access to ESL classes, trainings and one-on-one consultations in order to support them through continuing education whether it’s for themselves, their spouses, their neighbors, their newly-arriving family members, their coworkers, their friends. To welcome migrants is to welcome opportunity, as our space has allowed for interns, teachers and staff to develop their bilingual skills even deeper. When migrants are welcomed, and we continue supporting them as they grow, we are encouraging long term participation. And when migrants are shifting grounds, more often than not, we can only hope and we only want for them that other places welcome them with open arms.”


Kelly Martinez, Community Engagement Manager, Neighbors Link said:

“We support the #ChooseWelcome campaign because we know how hard the immigrant community has been working and how great they do for New York State. We want to make them feel that they belong.”


Adama Bah, Port Authority Bus Terminal Volunteer said:

“I #ChooseWelcome. Welcome to New York. I am formerly undocumented, and I was welcomed to New York. I greet buses every day. As a former undocumented immigrant, I will welcome you and help you navigate this system.”


Dilcia Erazo, Community Organizer, SEPA Mujer said:

“We believe that every asylum seeker deserves the right tools to be able to successfully thrive throughout the State of New York, and that’s why we #ChooseWelcome.”


Irene Sanchez, Executive Director, Western New York Coalition of Farmworker Serving Agencies said:

“On behalf of the Western New York Coalition of Farmworker Serving Agencies, we #ChooseWelcome, and to support asylum seekers seeking refuge in the United States. I implore you to ask the states who are using asylum seekers as political tokens to stop. We must greet our new neighbors with dignity and respect. Please, help us grant asylum seekers with humanitarian parole so they and their families can apply for work permits, allowing them to sustain themselves while waiting for their immigration proceedings. Please demand legislators to #ChooseWelcome not cruelty. As a nation built by immigrants, we can do better.”


Victor Hernandez, Writer in Residence, Workers’ Center of Central New York said:

“All asylum seekers should be welcomed in this country and the State of New York. Here in Syracuse, refugees and asylum seekers are a big part of our community. We know that they’re our friends and our neighbors. The most important thing is that there’s only one source of value in the world. It is not financial speculation, it is not moving around money and capital. The only source of value is the hands of workers. Our bodies, our minds, but of course, how we work. Think of asylum seekers as the workers that they are. Male, female, disabled, trans, we need all the workers in this great country to do the great things that we’re hoping for. Especially when it comes to competition with other countries that have so much labor. We are in desperate need of more people, more babies, more workers, more intellect and imagination.”


To view a full list of partner statements, please click here

The campaign is uniting individuals, faith groups, community-led organizations, businesses and elected officials to reject cruelty and be part of building a compassionate welcome system. A public pledge on the newly launched website allows individuals and organizations to join the campaign’s network, be displayed on a national map, and receive information and regular updates on how to get and stay involved. Already, more than 1,500 people have signed the #ChooseWelcome pledge. 

The campaign welcomes anyone across the U.S. to pledge their support by signing the pledge and showing that we will always #ChooseWelcome. 

The #ChooseWelcome campaign is a nationwide initiative of over 1,500 individuals, organizations, and elected officials pledging to stand on the side of welcome as vulnerable people seek safety in their communities. Organized following the busing of migrant families to various cities by extremist politicians, the campaign unites people from all backgrounds to come together and demonstrate a path forward through a compassionate welcoming system for families and individuals fleeing persecution and danger. When given the choice between cruelty or welcome, we #ChooseWelcome.

The New York Immigration Coalition’s Welcoming New York Campaign is advocating for a coordinated City, State and Federal response to asylum seekers being sent by bus from Texas to New York.