New York thrives when its immigrant communities feel safe and integrated in this city we all call home. This is why we have taken the lead to keep families together and support some of the most vulnerable immigrants—children.
“We are lucky to live in a City that understands the critical need for legal representation and is willing to work with us to respond quickly when a crisis arises.”
Steven Choi, New York Immigration Coalition
In response to the humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied immigrant children fleeing extreme violence in their countries to seek refuge in our City, the Council established a public-private partnership in 2014 to provide free legal consultations and representation to those children who were facing deportation. This initiative has taken on more than 745 cases directly, screened more than 1,600 immigrants and successfully concluded 147 cases, with 37 children granted asylum and 11 children having obtained lawful permanent residency through Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.
We provided $4.9 million to the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project— the nation’s first public defender program for immigrants facing deportation. By providing free, high-quality legal representation, the project ensures that New Yorkers in immigration custody have a meaningful chance to present their immigration case. As a result, more than 115 individuals have, with the help of their attorneys, successfully proven their eligibility to remain in the United States legally.
The lack of a government-issued form of identification (ID) presents special challenges for many New Yorkers, especially those who are undocumented, homeless, or are gender non-conforming. Recognizing that many immigrants did not have the type of government-issued ID needed for daily transactions like seeking police assistance, entering their child’s school to meet with teachers, and signing a lease or opening a bank account, we passed the landmark IDNYC Municipal ID program. Today, more than 700,000 City residents have a municipal ID card, making it the largest program of this kind in the nation.
In the first year of our term, we also passed two bills that significantly limit the City’s cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The bills prohibit the Department of Correction and the New York Police Department from honoring civil immigration detainer requests issued by ICE unless a federal judge has issued a warrant and the individual has been previously convicted of a violent or serious crime or is a possible match on a terrorist watch list.
In the last budget, we included $1.5 million for the new Immigrant Health Initiative with the goal of reducing health disparities among immigrants. This funding will support community-based organizations in their outreach and education efforts as they inform immigrant communities about language access resources and health care coverage options.
Provided $1 million to the CUNY Citizenship Now program, which sends an attorney to Council Members’ district offices to provide free immigration legal advice and services to constituents.
Allocated $250,000 for the “Key to the City” Initiative, which since 2011 has served over 25,000 New Yorkers. More than 16,000 immigrants have benefited from the consular ID and passport processing services at these events. Additionally, the events provide immigrant communities with direct access to resources that can help individuals overcome barriers to education, provide financial services and empowerment, and provide other resources based on the needs of the community.
Included $3.3 million in the last budget for the Immigrant Opportunity Initiative, which provides funding for community-based organizations to provide legal services and assist immigrants with applications for citizenship or permanent residency, and various other immigrant-related legal services.
Allocated $1.38 million in funding for community-based organizations to provide adult basic literacy services, including English for Speakers of Other Languages and Graduate Equivalent Degree classes for adults who cannot read, write or speak English. This funding is in addition to resources allocated for supportive services such as counseling and case management for immigrant New Yorkers.