New Yorkers Rally in Albany to Condemn Dangerous Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric, Demand Solutions for Real Community Safety

Albany, N.Y.-- Impacted New Yorkers and allies from across the state rallied in Albany today to call out elected leaders who have made dangerous and dehumanizing anti-immigrant statements. They demanded the passage of several bills that will provide real community safety for all, regardless of immigration status.

Directly impacted community members, advocates and legislators rejected the divisive statements from state and local elected officials that have put our neighbors, coworkers, friends, and family’s lives at risk.

Scores of New Yorkers from across movements fighting for immigrants’ rights, workers’ rights, criminal legal reform, and support for survivors of gender-based violence and those accessing reproductive care -  and their allies - were at the Capitol to tell local and state elected leaders that every New Yorker deserves the opportunity to thrive.

They were joined by legislators who have championed the rights of all New Yorkers and advocated for critical community safety solutions, including passage of the New York For All Act, the Clemency Justice Act, the Dignity Not Detention Act, the Access to Representation Act, and Coverage 4 All.

The immigration, criminal legal, and family policing systems work together to target Black and brown migrants in particular, creating a tangled web of criminalization and family separation. We must disentangle these systems from each other to reduce the harm our tax dollars fund. We must recognize the many ways that immigrants are an essential part of our state’s families, history, culture, and workforce.

Allies from various movements across the state, including Immigrant Defense Project, The Bronx Defenders, Release Aging People from Prison, Center for Community Alternatives, Violence Intervention Program, Alianza Agricola, New York Immigration Coalition, Vera Institute of Justice, Families for Freedom, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and Make the Road New York spoke out about the urgent need for solidarity in the fight for immigrant justice.

Watch a replay of the livestream of the rally at:

“True public safety comes from policies that invest in our communities and keep families together. My 'New York for All' Act would prohibit local law enforcement and state agencies from conspiring with ICE and Border Patrol, ensuring immigrant New Yorkers can attend parent-teacher conferences, visit public hospitals or file necessary labor violations without fearing deportation. It also strengthens the rule of law for everyone by ensuring those accused of crimes are given clear notice of their rights and are only detained if authorities have a judicial warrant. Every New Yorker deserves safety and dignity, regardless of where they come from, when they arrived, or what their immigration status is,” said State Senator Andrew Gounardes.

“While some seek to stoke the flames of fear and division for political gain, New York stands with immigrant workers and families. I am proud to be the sponsor of the New York for All Act and the Dignity Not Detention Act because hardworking immigrants and their families are the fabric of our state. They deserve protection from ICE while seeking government services that they are entitled to and deserve to remain whole, without the threat of detention and the inhumane conditions brought with it. I am hopeful that the Legislature will pass this vital legislation to ensure that ALL New Yorkers are protected from unnecessary scrutiny,” said Assemblymember Karines Reyes.

“The demonization of people who have immigrated to our state is dangerous, harmful, and undermines what makes New York great. Immigrant New Yorkers are our friends, family, neighbors, classmates and co-workers. They contribute to our city and state's economy, tax base, and social fabric, and are absolutely vital to our communities. Instead of shamelessly scapegoating immigrants, we must ensure the safety of immigrant New Yorkers. I stand with the many immigrant rights allies in support of the slate of legislative solutions that includes the New York for All Act, the Clemency Justice Act, the Access to Representation Act, and the Dignity Not Detention Act. It is urgent for us to pass this legislation this year," said State Senator Julia Salazar.

“Today I join immigration activists from across New York State to strongly condemn the demonization of migrants and the racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric that we have seen far too frequently online, in the media, and, unfortunately, from some on the other side of the political aisle. Immigration is a central part of New York’s story, yet recently we have seen a disturbing rise in anti-immigrant sentiments. We, in Albany, must do more to protect those who come to our state seeking a better life and we can start by passing the Access to Representation Act (S999A) to reform our broken immigration court system. The ARA will guarantee that all those in New York State facing legal challenges related to their immigration status have access to legal representation, which is not currently the case. I’m hopeful that we can pass this bill this session to ensure that our legal system is working for all, regardless of their immigration status," said State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal.

“New York City is a city of immigrants. It is the diverse array of people, who bring with them their unique experiences, cultures, and traditions, that make our city so great. My family immigrated here and our newest New Yorkers deserve the same opportunity to build a life here. I condemn the dehumanizing rhetoric and divisive statements often originating from the other side of the aisle, and ask that we join together to support our newest New Yorkers and create a community rooted in inclusion," said Assemblymember Harvey Epstein.

“No matter their background and regardless of how they came to call New York home, every immigrant deserves the chance to make a better life for themselves and their families. Immigrant New Yorkers power our state’s economy and currently make up more than a quarter of the state’s workforce. They are hard at work building businesses and creating jobs that push our communities forward. As elected officials, we must recognize the role that immigrants play in our state’s past, present and future, and support initiatives to empower them to create safe, sustaining lives now and in future generations," said Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera. 

“As an immigrant myself, I am appalled at the dehumanizing and dangerous language some of our elected officials have been using lately. Every New Yorker deserves respect and dignity. Every immigrant-- whether a newcomer who has recently arrived in search of safety and stability, or longtime residents who have called New York home for decades-- deserve the opportunity to thrive, just like me and my family. Passing vital legislation like the New York For All Act, the Clemency Justice Act, the Dignity Not Detention Act and the Access to Representation Act will protect hard-working immigrant New Yorkers and ensure strong communities, family unity, prosperity, and public safety for everyone in the state,” said Assemblymember Catalina Cruz.

“Immigrants are integral to the history and the success of both New York State and our nation as a whole. The dangerous and irresponsible anti-immigrant rhetoric being tossed around is not representative of our state's values and only stands to cause harm to those who call New York home. Policies like the New York For All Act, the Clemency Justice Act, the Dignity Not Detention Act, and the Access to Representation Act will make sure that everyone, no matter where they come from, what language they speak, or how they got here is welcomed with open arms and able to thrive. It's urgent that we pass these bills into law this session," said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. 

“Very often it is said that our state is a home to immigrants and migrants and references are made to the Statue of Liberty on our harbor. But the truth is that our leaders have not stepped up enough in the face of anti-migrant attacks despite the fact that immigrants have helped build the very economy that we benefit from today. If New York is to truly be a sanctuary for immigrants, refugees, and those looking for a better, safer life then we must advance life-saving policies and invest in these communities. As a daughter of an immigrant and representative of one of the most ethnically diverse communities of immigrants, I call on our legislature to pass these bills into law in the budget. It is counter-intuitive to talk about the need to be fiscally prudent and not pass Coverage for All, which we know will save us hundreds of millions of dollars as potential cuts to our healthcare system are debated. If we want migrants to get to work then let's help them do so by stabilizing their lives and fully funding access to legal representation to protect our immigrant neighbors. The solutions have been here all along. I call on Albany to embrace them and the political courage and will to get them done,” said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas.

“In the last couple months, we have seen a dangerous rise in racially coded language targeting our immigrant communities coming from local and state elected officials. We know well that these attacks have devastating impacts on Black and brown immigrant communities by emboldening collusion between our local agencies and ICE, instilling fear in immigrants from accessing critical services in their daily lives, and fueling racism and violence. We are here in Albany joined by advocates and community members across movements to be crystal clear: we stand united in our fight for immigrant justice and we will not allow our communities to be used as scapegoats to cover up years of inaction by legislators who have yet to take real action for our communities to be safe and to thrive. Now more than ever, it is critical for our elected leaders to use their political will to pass critical legislation to protect our immigrant communities, and we are proud to stand here united across campaigns that do just that," said Linda Flor Brito, Senior Policy and Campaigns Organizer at the Immigrant Defense Project.

“All New Yorkers, regardless of their immigration status, deserve safety and the opportunity to contribute to their communities. But by sowing division with anti-immigrant rhetoric and scapegoating, some politicians are hurting the well-being of all New Yorkers for their own political gain. Our leaders in Albany have an opportunity to take action this legislative session to protect our immigrant neighbors and promote the economic growth of our State. The New York For All Act, Clemency Justice Act, Dignity Not Detention Act, and Access to Representation Act will ensure that immigrant New Yorkers can stay with their families and in their jobs, and thrive in their communities. These bills build trust and public safety throughout New York, and will create the conditions where every New Yorker can contribute to a brighter future for each and every one of us,” said Marlene Galaz, Director of Immigrant Rights Policy, New York Immigration Coalition. 

“We don't want to continue being afraid to go out to work, to go out to buy food, to go out to the parks, to play sports. We want to feel the confidence of being in our community and continue working, contributing to the economic growth of this state that we already feel a part of,” said Luis Jiménez, President of Alianza Agrícola.

“Threats to immigrants’ rights are surging, and now, more than ever, New York must take action to protect our neighbors. By prohibiting collusion between ICE & local law enforcement, abolishing unlawful immigration detention, and ensuring the right to legal counsel in court, these landmark bills offer immigrants the chance to lead open lives, provide for their families, and access healthcare — free from harassment or intimidation. New York’s identity is built on welcoming newcomers. Now is the time to embrace that value and stand up for our neighbors,” said Zach Ahmad, Senior Policy Counsel at the New York Civil Liberties Union. 

“All New Yorkers deserve dignity, fairness, and the chance to build a safe and prosperous life. This year, New York State has an opportunity to advance sensible solutions that will support immigrants and all New Yorkers. Increased investments in legal services are one crucial measure, and so is policy reform that reduces detentions and deportations that tear families apart. Advancing the Access to Representation Act to create a right to counsel in immigration court, alongside other bills that would help ensure fewer people are subjected to the harm of detention and deportation in the first place, protects New York’s communities and strengthens its economy,” said Rosie Wang, Program Manager, Vera Institute of Justice’s Advancing Universal Representation Initiative.

“Today, New Yorkers from across movements are rallying together to remind State leaders that all are welcome in New York, regardless of immigration status. As public defenders, we have watched in horror as elected officials and the media have amplified divisive and dehumanizing rhetoric against immigrant New Yorkers. Not long ago, these neighbors were heralded as essential workers and the backbone of the State's economy, which they still are. We refuse to allow the State to pit New Yorkers against each other, regardless of immigration status and how long they have been here, when there is a clear path to provide true community safety for all,” said Rosa Cohen-Cruz, Director of Immigration Policy at The Bronx Defenders.

“The anti-immigrant rhetoric we’ve heard from New York’s politicians and media has real, tangible consequences on the lives of our community members and migrants like them. This dehumanization directly translates into an increase in violence, discrimination, and stalled policy change. New York must focus on passing bills like Dignity Not Detention that will weave migrants back into the fabric of our communities and economy. We need to fund housing and mental healthcare and invest in real solutions for safety, rather than scapegoating an entire group of people and criminalizing communities of color in the process. We at Envision Freedom know that immigrants have always made New York better — and they deserve better,” said Anacristina Fonseca, Community Organizing and Advocacy Manager at Envision Freedom Fund.

"Today we travel to the New York State capital not only as activists but as humans who want immigrants to be treated with dignity. Immigrant rights are human rights. We urge elected officials in Albany to stand in solidarity with immigrant communities, both newly arriving and long-time migrants. Now more than ever, these communities need your support and advocacy to ensure their rights and dignity are protected,” said Janay Cauthen, Executive Director of Families for Freedom.

“Legislators, communities, and activists from all across the state have come together to stand in solidarity against the dangerous and divisive anti-immigrant rhetoric that we have heard from some of our local leaders. Not only does the dehumanization and villainization of our immigrant communities harm our new arrivals, but the fallout that comes with such rhetoric also has a negative impact on immigrants who have been here for a long time. Immigrant communities are already constantly facing violence and forced family separation at the hands of the criminal legal and immigration systems in this country. Our families are not protected or valued, despite the many contributions we make to our communities on the city, state, and national levels. State bills such as the Clemency Justice Act, New York for All Act, Dignity not Detention Act, and Access to Representation Act can provide these protections to our immigrant families if passed. New York’s leaders must make the commitment to recognize the dignity and humanity of all New Yorkers, old and new, and stop the attacks against our people,” said Fanta Fofana, Co-coordinator of the Clemency Coalition of New York.

"Our organization fights daily for a world where every person has the right and resources to make reproductive decisions free from discrimination, coercion, or violence. Yet, despite the ostensible commitment of our state to ensure New York is a safe harbor for those seeking reproductive care, this commitment falls short for immigrants for whom the very travel to and within our state puts them at risk of detention and deportation. New York for All would ensure that ALL people seeking reproductive care feel safe traveling to access the care they need without additional fears of racial profiling and local agencies conspiring with ICE. We are long overdue for this most basic commitment from our state and we urge passage of the bill this year," said Rafa Kidvai, Director of the Repro Legal Defense Fund at If When How.

“The dehumanizing, anti-immigrant sentiment we're seeing in state politics and the media reflects the views of a xenophobic few, not the New York we're fighting for. With the New York For All Act, Clemency Justice Act, Dignity Not Detention Act, and Access to Representation Act, our state is one step closer to becoming a place where all are truly welcome. But we need to do more to make New York a true sanctuary for immigrants and asylum seekers. Everyone deserves dignity and safety, regardless of immigration status, and we know that housing and healthcare are prerequisites for both. We will keep fighting until every New Yorker has secured these basic human rights,” said Brahvan Ranga, Political Director of For the Many. 

“The anti-immigrant statements from elected leaders in New York underscore the alarming expansion of xenophobic surveillance across our state. Police and ICE deploy broken, biased surveillance technologies with little to no oversight to target immigrant New Yorkers and drive deportations. The New York For All Act is a vital piece of legislation to ban law enforcement collaboration with ICE, curbing the police surveillance tools ICE has at its disposal. After years of tireless advocacy by impacted New Yorkers and allies, Albany must finally pass NY4All and take all necessary measures to protect immigrant communities in New York State,” said Surveillance Technology Oversight Research & Advocacy Manager, Corinne Worthington.

“Violence Intervention Program works daily with immigrant New Yorkers abused by intimate partners, sexually assaulted and/or exploited by traffickers as well as others in positions of power, like employers and landlords. They often ask if going to the police about crimes committed against them will mean being reported to ICE. We need our elected officials to pass vital legislation that protects them and removes barriers to them coming forward without fear that reporting abuse could lead to deportations and family separation and we need them to say loudly and clearly that all are welcome here. When our elected officials use anti-immigrant rhetoric and make threats to roll back sanctuary protections, they make our cities and our state inhospitable to immigrants and make it more likely abused mothers and children remain in unsafe conditions," said Margarita Guzmán, Executive Director at the Violence Intervention Program (VIP).

“We condemn all attempts to vilify immigrant communities and the anti-immigrant rhetoric that attacks and seeks to divide New Yorkers. With the budget deal looming, our Albany leaders have an opportunity to prioritize all working-class people, regardless of immigration status. It is imperative that the state protects and invests in our communities, including passing Coverage for All legislation that will expand health insurance access to uninsured low-income New Yorkers. This bill would generate significant economic benefits to the state, while at the same time saving millions of dollars and saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who will be able to access preventive and life-saving care,” said Becca Telzak, Deputy Director at Make the Road New York.

“Center for Community Alternatives is proud to stand with lawmakers and immigrant justice organizations from across the state to say with one voice: every New Yorker deserves respect and dignity. The immigration and criminal legal systems have targeted Black and brown communities for far too long, separating families and hurting all of us. New York must honor the invaluable contributions of immigrant New Yorkers and pass New York for All, Clemency Justice, Dignity Not Detention, Access to Representation Act, and the full Justice Roadmap,” said Ismael Diaz, community organizer at Center for Community Alternatives.

“Despite our immigrant neighbors being the backbone of this country and state, many live in constant fear of the unwieldy beast that this state’s immigration, criminal legal, and family policing systems have created. These systems prey upon Black and brown New Yorkers adding another layer of state violence to our communities that are already over-policed and under-resourced. As the daughter of an incarcerated father, who has been behind bars for most of my life, I’ve felt firsthand what it’s like to have my family ripped apart by the system. Currently and formerly incarcerated immigrant New Yorkers deserve to maintain unity and stability with their families when they come home from incarceration. Lawmakers must pass these 4 critical pieces of legislation. We will continue to fight until we have a New York for All," said TeAna Taylor, Co-director of Policy and Communications for the Release Aging People in Prison Campaign.

About the New York For All Campaign: Alianza Agrícola, The Bronx Defenders,, Immigrant Defense Project, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York Immigration Coalition and Vera Institute of Justice lead New York For All, a coalition of over 75 organizations and elected officials united to pass the New York For All Act. The bill (S987 Gounardes / A5686 Reyes) will prohibit local law enforcement and state agencies from colluding with CBP and ICE on federal immigration enforcement. All New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, deserve to lead free and open lives without fear of being ripped from their families at a moment’s notice.