Speaker Quinn and New York Immigration Coalition also stress the importance of young people applying for DACA

Washington Heights, NY – Today, New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, elected officials, New York Immigration Coalition and advocates announced a series of multi-service events for immigrants in New York City starting next month. Speaker Quinn made the announcement following a town hall meeting on the economic benefits of immigration with members of the Hispanic Federation, La Fuente, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, The New York Immigration Coalition and LULAC NY. This is the second in a three-part series of town halls on Immigration Reform.

The upcoming events will provide one-stop access to key services for immigrants, including the provision of official identification documents, including individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITIN), passports, and consular IDs provided by multiple consulates; know-your-rights workshops on immigration-related topics; workshops on DACA and college readiness; DACA-related legal and adult education referrals; and referrals to education and social programs.

The event’s goal is to connect immigrant families with vital services and information, and to dispel any confusion or misinformation on immigration-related issues. Consulates from various countries will provide passports and IDs to their communities; Food Bank will provide ITINs; and immigrant-led CBOs from across the city such as New Immigrant Community Empowerment, Queens Community House, El Centro Del Inmigrante, La Union, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights and others will be available to guide immigrants in the right direction and provide referrals to critical services. Such multi-service events will be offered in all five boroughs across New York City in the coming year, beginning next month.

“We’re very excited about the changes happening at the national level on immigration reform, and we want to make sure we as a city are prepared, and that our immigrants know their rights, and know where to go to for help,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “And to protect our immigrant community from being scammed by unscrupulous service providers in the months ahead, the City Council and the New York Immigration Coalition will host these workshops to connect immigrants to service providers they can trust. The federal government has begun to do their part, and we are doing our part to make sure that every eligible New Yorker can take advantage of all the changes coming up.”

Eligible immigrant New Yorkers who are over 15, and who were younger than 30 years as of June 15, 2012, are also encouraged to continue to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which allows immigrants to work and live in the U.S. regardless of the eventual outcome of Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

“I’m proud to be in a city where the City Council has actively promoted immigrant integration,” said Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “And I’m proud that the leadership also recognizes when more needs to be done. So props to Speaker Quinn and the Council for supporting these multi-service events for the past couple of years and seeking to expand them in the year ahead; and for committing to the creation of a $12.8 million fund to expand adult education seats to accommodate all those young people who would qualify for DACA if they enroll in an eligible program.”

The need for consulate IDs and passports for immigrants is crucial because it helps individuals and families of mixed immigration status overcome barriers to schools, financial institutions, higher education, and public safety.

The Council’s support for similar events in the past have helped provide critical services to some of the hardest-to-reach community members while bolstering partnerships between schools, community based organizations and government agencies. These services reinforce the message that everyone should have identity documents, pay taxes; and be informed of the city services and educational opportunities they qualify for.

“For years, Food Bank For New York City has proudly provided free services to help low- and moderate-income New Yorkers fulfill that most American of duties – filing taxes! That includes helping non-citizens apply for Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers,” said Margarette Purvis, President and CEO of Food Bank For New York City. “Since it began in 2002, our free tax assistance program has returned more than half a billion dollars to tax filers across the city. We are delighted to be able to get the word out to immigrant communities across the city through these important workshops.”

“It is no secret that immigrants are and always have been a major economic driver for both the city of New York and the United States,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “When granting citizenship to the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US can prospectively lead to $1.4 trillion in economic activity over the coming decade, we must make a faster pathway to citizenship a priority in the coming months, as well as push for family-based visas and college loan opportunities for non-citizens.”

“Our country needs a sensible immigration policy that will allow nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants to live and work here legally,” said NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm who also chairs the Council’s Immigration Committee. “We need reform so that countless students, many of whom had no choice as to whether or not to come to this country, will be allowed to attend college and to contribute to our society. We need reform so that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender partners will be able to live together as a family. We need reform to attract the world’s best, brightest and hardest working people to ensure our economy can continue to compete globally. Our broken immigration system has divided too many communities, separated too many families and torn countless lives apart and it is time for Congress to act and pass a just and humane bill for our immigrant people.”

“Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights was founded 30 years ago to provide high quality, culturally competent immigration related legal services to immigrants in Northern Manhattan and the Bronx. Not only have we helped naturalize thousands of immigrants over the last 30 years, we have also prevented the deportation of hundreds of immigrants from our community, keeping families united and neighborhoods intact. From our vantage point we are able to see up close the day to day impact that changes in laws have on our members and as a result, can pin point areas of immigration policy that need to be addressed in a meaningful way,” said Angela Fernandez, Esq., Executive Director of Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights.

Lucia Gomez, Executive Director of La Fuente said, “La Fuente works tirelessly to empower immigrant communities and ensure that our voices are heard as we remedy the deficiencies of the current immigration system. Immigrant communities contribute to the economic vibrancy of this city, state and nation. Through civic engagement and leadership development, La Fuente ensures our voices are amplified and our democracy serves us all.”

“The Senate bill provides an important starting point for the debate on immigration reform,” said Jose Calderon, President of the Hispanic Federation. “It includes some excellent provisions but also some that need to be refined and discarded altogether. As the debate continues to unfold, we will press to ensure the path to citizenship does not become an obstacle course, LGBT families have the opportunity for reunification and the civil rights of Latinos are respected.”

“New York became what it is today thanks to the work of immigrant communities,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick. “We need a just and fair immigration system that recognizes the important role people from other countries play in our future.”

“I am delighted that the ‘Gang of Eight’ is focused on immigration reform in Congress, and that a comprehensive reform bill might finally pass in Washington. I hope that key elements are included in the bill, such as keeping families together, including LGBT families; a reasonable cut-off date; less rigorous work requirements; and the ability to access quality health care, to name a few issues. We need real, comprehensive immigration reform now, which will provide economic opportunities for new Americans as well as current citizens,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer.

“Meaningful immigration reform can help boost the Big Apple’s economy, and I’m glad that we are engaging in a robust public discussion on this issue,” said Council Member Jessica Lappin.

“Passing a comprehensive immigration reform will not only benefit the 11 million undocumented immigrants that are part of the very fabric of the American Society, it also will provide an economic growth for our country. Studies show that a reform will provide significant gains in earnings, tax revenues and job growth for the country that can total $1.4 trillion in overall domestic gross earnings. We must act now!” said Councilmember Robert Jackson.

“As someone who came to this country fifty years ago with my family as a young girl, I personally know the importance of fair, practical, and humane immigration policy in this country,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “We need immigration reform policies that will benefit our immigrant communities by ensuring families are able to stay together and that workers and students have a real and achievable path to citizenship. This is policy that will make our nation stronger, and we will continue to fight to make this American dream a reality.”

For more information please visit NYIC’s website: www.thenyic.org or contact Melanie Reyes at The New York Immigration Coalition, mreyes@thenyic.org /212-627-2227 ext. 238.