Town hall focuses on the broad support immigration reform has across communities in New York City

Bronx, NY – Bronx, NY – Today, New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Bronx Delegation Co-Chair Annabel Palma and Bronx local elected officials, hosted a town hall meeting at Hostos Community College on the impact of comprehensive immigration reform on the local economy, education, and access to vital services. Speaker Quinn was joined by Council Member Maria Del Carmen Arroyo, Council Member Joel Rivera, Council Member G. Oliver Koppell, Council Member Fernando Cabrera, Council Member Daniel Dromm, and Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo and Senator Jose M. Serrano. This is the fourth town hall on Immigration Reform that the Council has held and focused on the importance of access to education for immigrant families and vital city services regardless of immigration status.

“New York City has been a leader when it comes to helping our immigrants and as we advocate for comprehensive immigration reform we must remember- this is not a fight for just immigrant rights, this is a fight for human rights and a stronger nation, said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “The benefits of an educated and legalized immigrant workforce are obvious, but now Congress must act. I want to thank Council Member Annabel Palma for hosting this town hall.”

“Today’s Town Hall draws attention to the potential for reform to transform the immigration landscape in the Bronx,” said Council Member Annabel Palma, Co-Chair of the New York City Council’s Bronx Delegation. The City Council will continue working with New Yorkers to ensure that immigrants are aware of their rights, understand the immigration process and know where to access help if they need it. The many organizations, community activists, and elected officials who participated in today’s event highlight the broad support in the Bronx for immigration reform and sends a clear message to Congress that New York’s immigrant communities cannot wait any longer to fix our broken system.”

Speaker Quinn was joined by Felix V. Matos Rodriguez, President, Hostos Community College, Hector Cordero-Guzman, Professor of Public Affairs, Baruch College, New York Immigration Coalition, CUNY’s Citizenship NOW!, The American Immigration Lawyers Association of New York City, League of United Latin American Citizens, Make the Road NY, and La Fuente.

Earlier this week, Speaker Quinn, 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 City is the first municipality in the nation to make this investment to allow immigrants to legally live and work in this country.

Families here in the Bronx and across New York City eagerly anticipate comprehensive immigration reform,” said Council Member and Chair of the Council’s Committee on Immigration Daniel Dromm. “By empowering our communities with knowledge, they will not only be equipped to advocate for the bill’s passage but they also will be prepared once reform is in place.”

“The moment to fix our broken immigration system is now and we can all engage in the process of shaping a comprehensive reform. This town hall gathers a selected group of people from different sectors of society to provide valuable insights in order to take action to make the reform a reality for the millions of hardworking undocumented immigrants that share the common dream of a better life,” said Council Member Fernando Cabrera.

“I am pleased to co- sponsor this event in the Bronx, the home of many immigrants, to give Bronxites an opportunity to share their concerns and participate in the immigration reform movement, said Council Member G. Oliver Koppell”.

“This event will help open up the conversation to many Bronxites about immigration and what the comprehensive immigration reform bill will mean to New Yorkers if the House votes in favor of it, said Council Member Maria Del Carmen Arroyo. “I want to thank my colleagues for hosting this town hall on this extremely important topic for our community.

“Congress cannot stall any longer on approving comprehensive immigration reform, said Council Member Joel Rivera. “Immigrants are the backbone of this city and we cannot let partisan parties stall on such an important piece of legislation.”

“After years of waiting for a solution to the broken immigration system, AILA supports the Senate’s initial passing of immigration reform and we hope that the House will follow suit, said Neena Dutta Vice-Chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association of New York City. Of course we have deep concerns over the piecemeal, enforcement-focused restrictionist stance, but we hope that the final bill will incorporate the changes that will help U.S. employers, boost the economy, reunite families and offer protections for the undocumented who currently live in the shadows with a road to legalization and eventual citizenship.”

“We are thrilled that Speaker Quinn and the City Council are showing such leadership for New York’s immigrant communities,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “This initiative will provide critical legal services and support for immigrants caught in our broken immigration system. It’s another example of the City’s commitment to immigrants, together with Wednesday’s landmark announcement by Speaker Quinn of another initiative to help more New Yorkers become eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. We hope that other cities across the state and the country will use New York City as an example of what local government can do to support these vital members of our society.”

“I am the son of immigrant parents who came to New York not knowing the language. It is a primal time in this country, where we must all help one another,” said Alex Rosa, League of United Latin American Citizens. “With never ending debate on immigration laws and rights, we all are going to be affected regardless of our affiliation with immigrants.”

“CUNY Citizenship Now is happy to join this effort to educate immigrants about immigration reform. For sixteen years we have provided immigration assistance to New Yorkers, and we have seen the need for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants to integrate to society, said Allan Wernick, Director of CUNY’s Citizenship NOW!. “As a path seems possible now, we are taking steps to be ready to provide services to this segment of the population once a bill is passed.”

“Overhauling the broken immigration system to avoid backlogs that separate nuclear families, replenish the labor force, and provide an achievable path to permanent lawful status for undocumented immigrants is long overdue, said Jojo Annobil Attorney-in-Charge of the City-wide Immigration Law Unit at The Legal Aid Society. We urge Congress to enact a fair, inclusive and rational comprehensive immigration reform bill that fulfills the ideals of this great nation of immigrants.”