Welcoming New York

The New York Immigration Coalition Welcoming New York Campaign is an effort to ensure that every asylum seeker who makes it to New York has the services, shelter, and care that they need to not only survive but thrive — and that we use this opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of the country that welcoming immigrants helps strengthen New York.

For 35 years, the New York Immigration Coalition has worked to build a welcoming and thriving City and State here in New York. With over 200 member organizations across the state, we have been able to build the conditions to win policy, legislation, and executive actions so that our immigrants and refugees can thrive here.

Building on this rich tradition, we are planning a city, state, and federal response, and we will activate our members to respond. This moment calls for a robust, coordinated response from the Federal level down to the local level - one that will meet basic needs, but that will also help rebuild the welcoming system for asylum-seekers and refugees gutted during the Trump Administration.

FEDERAL

Engaging with the White House to provide a clear response to this situation

  • Incorporate asylum seekers into the refugee support system (outside of DHS)
  • Coordinate asylum seeker arrivals with local and state governments
  • Develop a structure with state and local governments to assess needs, abilities and opportunities

Developing a competency plan in welcoming asylum seekers

  • The United States must recognize that welcoming asylum seekers is not a one-off “event” or “emergency” but rather an increasing global trend. The government should develop competency in welcoming asylum seekers and supporting their cases by investing in a consistent, sustainable model of humanitarian reception that treats people seeking refuge in this country as people, not immigration enforcement priorities. To lead a humanitarian response, the government agency and officers that interact with asylum seekers cannot fall within the enforcement framework of DHS. The administration should move these functions to a new or reconfigured agency (such as Health and Human Services where the Office of Refugee Resettlement sits) with an explicitly humanitarian protection mission, expertise, and capacities.

Advocating the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to:

  • End immigration enforcement programs and policies that directly promote racial profiling and target migrants of African descent.
  • Provide funding for immediate and intermediate shelter as well as transportation to other locations;
  • Extend “parole” for asylum-seekers from two months to 2 years and facilitate expedited work permits for asylum seeker arrivals and those paroled into the United States; and
  • Push Texas and other “sending” state governments to ensure that people give informed consent before boarding buses and are provided with adequate food and medical care during travel to New York.
  • Work with Housing and Urban Development to expand affordable housing and assist with education for landlords about leasing to recently arrived migrants, and engage in public education about predatory housing practices targeted at recently arrived migrants.

USCIS must:

  • Expeditiously implement the rescission of the Trump-era work authorization rules, including restoring the mandatory 30-day processing time period for asylum seekers’ initial work permit applications, and ensuring all work permit form instructions fully reflect the rescission of the Trump-era rules.
  • Process expeditiously asylum seeker and humanitarian parole work permits and renewals in the backlog of applications.
  • Streamline the work permit application process and waive application fees (or generously grant fee waivers) for humanitarian parole-based applicants.

Providing Essential Transportation to Asylum seekers

  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should not abandon asylum seekers in remote locations or outside of detention centers, nor drop them off outside of business hours. Instead, it should be transporting asylum seekers to border-region shelters and other community-based housing in a manner coordinated with providers. Travel documents should be issued to all individuals being released and Notices to Appear filled out with addresses that correspond to the individual’s actual destination, not the address of unrelated legal services organizations. DHS must give clear instructions on these documents and processes in the asylum seeker’s best language, including where appropriate, in Indigenous languages.

Investigating Federal Civil Rights violations

  • The Department of Justice should investigate, and litigate as appropriate, allegations that some state authorities have violated federal civil rights law by forcibly busing asylum seekers out of their states.
  • The investigation and potential litigation should account for allegations that Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and other state and municipal officials have (1) transported people across state lines under false pretenses and (2) induced people to accept offers of travel based on false representations about travel destinations or expedited access to work authorization.

FEMA and the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) National Board

  • As FEMA continues its critical support to providers through EFSP, it should continue to reduce unnecessary paperwork, ensure the needs of smaller providers are met through more flexible and accessible funding arrangements, provide exceptions to allow funding for situations when stays at short-term shelters of more than 30 days are needed, and encourage community-based housing options and providers interested in standing up mid- to longer-term shelter options to receive support through EFSP.
  • The current cap on travel reimbursements is leaving many providers scrambling to support arriving asylum seekers who need to travel onward to a final destination. FEMA should exercise its discretion on travel cap reimbursements by implementing a scaled reimbursement rate that is tied to the provider’s available sheltering capacity (i.e. as a provider reaches complete capacity, FEMA should fully reimburse travel costs) and provide clear criteria for reimbursement of such travel expenses. FEMA should also allow for the administration of petty cash or gift cards through EFSP funding to allow for migrants to travel with funds. Asylum seekers who have multiple days long travel without any food or money places them in exceedingly vulnerable situations, particularly as travel is regularly delayed or canceled.

Congress must:

  • Pass legislation to eliminate or significantly reduce the delay in work authorization for asylum seekers, such as through the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act of 2022.
  • Pass appropriations to provide case support services to connect all asylum seekers with social and legal resources and fund legal representation for indigent persons in immigration courts, before the Asylum Office, and for other immigration matters.
  • Outside the FEMA EFSP funding, appropriate multiyear, committed funding for sustainable, expanded capacity in border and interior communities for transitional housing arrangements to host asylum seekers who do not have sponsors immediately available. These federal contracts should go to experienced community-based nonprofits and should not pass through Immigration and Customs Enforcement or Customs and Border Protection accounts, nor require any form of detention.
  • Appropriate sufficient funds to provide legal orientation and information to all individuals released from DHS custody after arriving through a U.S. border or port of entry. Ensure that DHS works with qualified community humanitarian services providers to provide legal orientation and information in asylum seeker’s best language, including Indigenous languages. Meet the White House’s FY2022 budget proposal to provide funding for a full legal representation program in the immigration courts.
  • Defund harmful and costly ICE “alternatives to detention” that impose highly invasive surveillance and monitoring requirements like GPS tracking and ankle shackles and currently cost the government over $300,000 per day.

NEW YORK STATE

Ending State Support for Deportation, Detention and Incarceration

  • Fund an additional $10 million in emergency support to address legal needs that have fallen on providers – already at capacity and straining to meet existing needs – to deliver expanded and more holistic legal services.
  • Governor Kathy Hochul should formally request that the U.S. Department of Justice open an investigation into possible criminal or civil violations of federal law against Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and other state and municipal officials for (1) transporting people across state lines under false pretenses and (2) inducements to accept offers of travel based on false representations about travel destinations or expedited access to work authorization.
  • Implement emergency contract reforms to allow providers to serve a maximum number of people, such as flexibility for agencies and organizations to provide critical survival services.
  • Create and fund systems in a manner that allows providers to pivot to the immediate needs at any given time and serve a maximum number of people in a holistic way.
  • Pass the Access to Representation Act (S81A/A1961) currently pending in the State legislature to guarantee migrants in New York a right to counsel in removal proceedings in immigration court.
  • Pass the New York for All Act (S.03076/A.02328) to broadly prohibit state and local officers from enforcing federal immigration laws, funneling people into ICE custody, and sharing sensitive information with ICE. The New York for All Act helps immigrant New Yorkers lead freer lives and take care of family, preserves state and local resources for our communities, and ensures New York dollars cannot be diverted to carry out ICE cruelty.
  • Pass the New York Dignity Not Detention Act (S7373/A7099A) to get New York State out of the business of immigration detention. The bill prohibits New York governmental entities from entering into immigration detention contracts and from receiving any payments related to immigration detention. When immigrants and communities can live in dignity and freedom, we’ll create a more welcoming state for all who call New York home.

Securing Quality Education

  • Create a Bilingual Teacher Pipeline program, replicating the success of the Urban Teacher Pipeline, to address the devastating English Language Learner drop out rates and long standing bilingual teacher shortages.

Creating Healthy Communities

  • Provide funding for creation of Welcome Centers across the state, for community-based organizations to launch “New York Ambassador” programs.
  • Call for a State program of direct support, including a housing voucher program that funds individuals based on income level to support all immigrants, regardless of status, to find permanent housing; tools to ensure that asylum seeker arrivals can find jobs; and funding for transportation to the regions outside of NYC.
  • Advocate for the funding of temporary shelters to accept all individuals in need, and ensure that shelters house individuals according to their expressed gender identity.

Ensuring Economic Power and Good Jobs

  • Invest $5 million in the New York State Enhanced Services to Refugees Program (NYSESRP) to help refugee resettlement agencies fully serve recent arrivals plus existing refugees and asylum seekers already in their communities while acknowledging their contributions to population growth and economic revitalization.
  • Guarantee access to universal child care for all children, regardless of citizenship status.
  • Claim the Public Education Exemption under the federal Child Care & Development Block Grant for all state-funded Pre-K/3-K Extended Day/Extended Year programs to expand access to all children regardless of citizenship status.

Guaranteed Civil Rights and Building Political Power

  • Create an $10 million emergency fund, administered through the newly created New York State Office of Language Access, that service providers, refugee resettlement organizations and other community based organizations to help meet the translation and interpretation needs necessary to properly serve all recent arrivals.

NEW YORK CITY

Ending State Support for Deportation, Detention and Incarceration

  • $10 million for emergency immigration legal services program.
  • For NYC to maintain its status as a true welcoming city we must ensure safety for asylum seekers and protect families that have arrived in NYC by passing legislation and strengthening policies that further prohibit NYC law enforcement agencies from collaborating and colluding with federal immigration enforcement agencies:
    • Limit communication between the NYC Department of Correction (DOC) and ICE (Intro 185)
    • Limit NYPD’s ability to hold people on immigration detainers (Intro 184)
    • Create a way for immigrant New Yorkers harmed by violations of the detainer laws to seek justice (Intro 158)

Creating Healthy Communities

  • Health
    • $10 million for community-based organizations to provide wraparound services
    • Immediately increase funding for Access Health NYC CBOs who provide culturally responsive critical resources and services including connecting individuals to health coverage and care
    • Ensure trauma-informed medical professionals, counselors, social workers etc. are present to provide culturally & linguistically appropriate care at shelters and in the long term:
      • Address limited capacity of social workers & other mental health professionals. Need funding to hire, train, and retain staff; and
      • Require mental health professionals to be available in each shelter with families and children to provide on-site mental health services. The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) would be required to maintain a ratio of at least one full-time mental health professional for up to every 50 families with children (Intro 522)
    • Remove enrollment barriers by providing access to free or low cost health insurance, and school meal plans to families and their children
    • Organize mobile vaccination clinics at shelters to provide free immunizations and vaccination shots to children and adults
    • Monkeypox: Address inequitable access to monkeypox testing & vaccination throughout the city, and it is especially critical that asylum seekers who are living in temporary housing/shelters are able to isolate and recover in a safe environment
      • Require DOHMH to conduct monkeypox education and prevention efforts and establish an infectious disease vaccine scheduling portal (Intro 620)
  • Housing
    • House long unhoused individuals who have been in the shelter system waiting for placement
    • Expand eligibility of CityFEPS, a rental assistance supplement to help individuals and families find and keep housing, to include families and individuals, regardless of immigration status
    • Fill the vacancies in all Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP) apartments

    Securing Quality Education

    • Provide $500,000 in emergency funding to immediately place additional interpreters at enrollment centers and pop up sites for the 2 months.
    • Place newcomer youth in schools where staff have training in supporting newcomer immigrants and English Language Learners, bilingual mental health supports are readily available, and students are well connected to immigrant serving CBOs providing robust wrap around services.
    • Invest $4 million to expand the successful Linking Immigrant Families with Early Childhood Education Project to create permanent infrastructure to support immigrant families with enrolling their children in Pre-K and 3K.
    • Immediately increase resources and funding for schools to expand robust supportive programs and quickly hire English as a New Language teachers.
    • Provide schools with training on the DOE’s Protocols for Non-Local Law Enforcement so that schools understand how to implement the previously developed policy.
    • Ensure Asylum-seeking families and their children have access to continuous educational, social, and language-based support services throughout an academic year:

      • Hire additional school counselors and social workers
      • Increase funding to retain counselors & social workers in schools

    Guaranteed Civil Rights and Building Political Power

    • Immediately release the $6.7 million ($1.7 million by the Mayor and $5 million by the Council) allocated in the FY23 budget that would allow for increased interpretation and translation services through the creation of language cooperatives and a city-wide interpreter bank.

    Ensuring Economic Power and Good Jobs

    • Ensure access to child care for all newly arrived immigrants
      • Fund community based organizations to do targeted outreach to newly arrived families to ensure all eligible children are able to access these vouchers
      • Allow for the current $10M of funding to rollover into the next session to ensure that child care vouchers are accessible to families arriving at all points during the school year and into the summer
    • Eliminate the cap on street vending licenses and permits to provide opportunities for newly arrived immigrant entrepreneurs to thrive
    • Remove the NYPD for their duties of enforcement of street vendors and adequately fund the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection enforcement unit to take over those responsibilities