New York is the first city in America to make investment that will allow thousands of immigrants to legally live and work in the country

City Hall, NY – Today, Speaker Quinn, New York City Council Members, Bloomberg administration officials and advocates announced $18 million in funding to provide adult education classes and legal services for New York’s young immigrants in order to help them qualify for the Federal government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

New York is the first city in the country working on this initiative. The investment will allow our city’s young adults the opportunity to apply for work authorization and will enable them to legally work, live and reinvest in our city.

Based on a federal announcement made by President Barack Obama, eligible immigrant New Yorkers who are over 15, and who were younger than 31 years as of June 15, 2012, can quality for temporary relief called DACA. DACA allows immigrants to work and live in the U.S. regardless of the eventual outcome of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. To be eligible for DACA, however, immigrants must meet an educational requirement.

Of the estimated 79,000 people in New York who could be eligible for DACA, some16,000 must first enroll in an adult education program. However, there are not enough slots in our city for all those in need, preventing many DACA-eligible New Yorkers from qualifying for the federal initiative. Through this funding, more New Yorkers will qualify for deferred action. These programs will also allow non-English-proficient immigrants to start learning English, which is a requirement of the Senate immigration bill currently being debated in Washington D.C.

“It’s exciting to be the first city in America to make this investment in our young immigrants who, in turn, have so much to offer our city,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “New York City was built by immigrants. One of the things that make us great is that immigrants keep coming to New York, keep adding to our diversity, and keep making our City stronger and better. We’re thankful that President Obama has taken steps around undocumented immigrants. But we can’t let the opportunity of these federal actions fall short, because we didn’t do what we needed to do.”

At the request of the Speaker, the city will provide $13.7M to community-based organizations through Department of Youth and Community Development for outreach and seat expansion and an additional $4.3M to CUNY for seat expansion and professional development.

“This funding gives us the resources to reach out to the more than 79,000 residents that may be eligible for DACA in New York City, and provide more opportunities for our city’s young immigrants and families,” said Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Jeanne B. Mullgrav. “Whether it’s obtaining a GED, expanding literacy and employment services, providing community outreach, or covering applicant legal fees, this initiative will help eliminate the barriers to achieving DACA status for thousands of our newest New Yorkers.”

Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Fatima Shama said, “Our Administration has worked to provide key information and support for our Deferred Action eligible students and families looking to access school records, other essential documents, as well as quality legal services,” said Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Fatima Shama. “Immigrants are critical to our city’s success and we will continue to look for ways to support our students and help them overcome barriers to applying for Deferred Action. We are delighted to partner with the Council to provide this new and unique opportunity for our DREAMers.”

“CUNY is pleased to be part of this new initiative to support adult education, and appreciates the opportunity to significantly expand educational opportunities for immigrants and support professional development for the field of adult literacy in New York City,” said Suri Duitch, University Dean for Continuing Education, City University of NY. “With the full implementation of DACA and other future immigration reforms, greater numbers of immigrants will be seeking English as a Second Language and High School Equivalency education and advisement in order to prepare for becoming legally documented residents of New York City.”

Priorities of the initiative:

Increase the number of seats across the city so all 16,000 potentially DACA-eligible New Yorkers can enroll in an appropriate educational program
Offer more adult education classes in students’ native languages
Provide adult educators with high-quality professional development
Do intensive outreach to bring eligible New Yorkers forward and connect them to educational, legal, and social services

“With the creation of this fund, Speaker Quinn is doing the right thing—making sure the City does everything in its power to reach the hardest-to-reach community members—the 16,000 young people who need to enroll in educational programs to be eligible for Deferred Action,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “DACA opens up opportunities that many young people never thought possible—providing them a powerful incentive to further their education and improve their economic outlook. The NYIC is proud to have worked closely with the Speaker on this issue from the beginning, and is proud that the city of New York recognizes the crucial role it plays in helping New Yorkers benefit from Deferred Action. DACA is a significant step forward toward fuller civic and economic inclusion, and this initiative will make sure New York makes the most of it.”

“This initiative will provide valuable education programming to out of school young immigrants, allowing them to come out into the open, and apply for DACA. In addition, this $18 million in funding represents a significant boost to the capacity of New York City’s adult literacy, ESOL, and high school equivalency service providers who work with few resources to serve those that our and other mainstream school systems have let down,” said David R. Jones, Esq., President/CEO of the Community Service Society of New York.

“I want to thank Speaker Quinn and the Council for making this smart and important investment. This is the right move for so many reasons, the people who benefit from these courses will reinvest these dollars going forward in our city,” said Javier H. Valdes, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. “Additionally, organizations like ours will now be able to provide comprehensive education, outreach, and workforce development resources to the population that is traditionally most difficult to reach and most in need.”

“Expanding educational opportunity is not only good for the economy but it is also going to help keep our immigrant families together,” said Council Member and Chair of the Council Committee on Immigration Daniel Dromm. “The New York City Council once again leads the way on responding to the vital needs of our immigrant rich communities. I thank Speaker Quinn for her steadfast leadership on this issue.”

“By providing a full range of urgently-needed adult education services – from basic literacy and English proficiency courses to preparation for the high school equivalency exam which has significant changes on the near horizon – these funds will help empower immigrants to further their education and thrive in New York City. The NYC Office of Human Capital Development is proud to support this ground-breaking effort, as we oversee and strengthen workforce development and adult education activities citywide,” said Michelle Light, Executive Director of the NYC Office of Human Capital Development.

Council Member Sara Gonzales said, “As someone who has long fought for Adult Literacy resources in New York City and proudly represents a large and diverse immigrant population, I strongly support this outstanding initiative. I applaud Speaker Quinn for leading New York to become the very first city to offer these vital services. The benefits extend well beyond helping these young people obtain eligibility for legal status under DACA, which is certainly a laudable goal. In addition, the opportunities afforded by this initiative will help them keep their job or obtain a better one with higher wages, assist them to pursue higher education, generate economic activity and increased tax revenue, make them better partners in their children’s academic success and will pay untold dividends due to increased health literacy.”

“New York is leading by example in making President Obama’s DACA a reality for immigrant youth. The city’s funding for significant increase in adult education seats will translate into more New Yorkers unlocking their potential to succeed and uplift themselves through the power of education. This will have a positive impact on the quality of their lives with a rippling effect in the betterment of their families and the ability to have active voices in our city and country,” said Council Member Robert Jackson, Chair of the Education Committee.

“New York is one of the most diverse cities in the world and it is crucial that we fund initiatives like these to guarantee that all of our residents have access to the city’s services. Creating more slots for immigrants to obtain a higher education will open the door for opportunities and success in the workforce. I am proud that New York is the first city to take action on these measures and thank Speaker Quinn for spearheading this effort,” said Council Member Rose.