New York has shown leadership in keeping families together. The Council is committed to helping our most vulnerable immigrants – children – and using every tool at its disposal to help immigrant communities feel safe in the city that they contribute to each and every day.
Building Awareness about Protections and Resources
Many immigrant students and parents fear that engaging with school officials or teachers can make them more visible to immigration authorities.
This year, the Council passed legislation that requires the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to annually distribute information regarding student privacy rights, updating emergency contacts, legal assistance resources, DOE protocols and procedures relating to interactions with non-local law enforcement, DOE protocols in the event a student’s parent has been detained, and the number of DOE staff trained on such policies. Additionally, the law requires that the DOE notify the student and the student’s parent of any non-local law enforcement request to interview a student or access student records, and to remind them of their right to remain silent until an attorney is present.
Expanding the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs
The rapid rate at which federal immigration policies are changing creates a need for additional support for immigrant New Yorkers, as well as the agencies that serve them. As the Speaker announced in her 2017 State of the City Address, the Council enhanced the role and mission of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) by passing legislation that requires MOIA to:
- work with the Civil Justice Coordinator to assess the legal service needs of immigrants;
- establish a state and federal affairs unit to follow changing federal laws and policies;
- consult with agencies on the implementation of laws and policies designed to protect immigrants;
- report annually to the Council on its activities and the unique needs of the immigrant community;
- establish a MOIA-led inter-agency task force that brings together the heads of city agencies and mayoral offices to assess the needs of New York City’s immigrant community; and
- provide agencies with recommendations on how best to coordinate services, especially for particularly vulnerable immigrants such as victims of crime and human trafficking, individuals who are LGBTQI, those with criminal justice system involvement, and minors.
Focusing Local Resources Where They are Needed
While federal immigration authorities often rely heavily on the resources of local governments to conduct immigration enforcement, cities have no legal obligation to assist. To ensure that taxpayer dollars are focused on addressing local concerns, the Council passed legislation that prohibits the use of city resources, including employee time and city property, to support immigration enforcement. Additionally, the law prohibits the City from entering into “287(g) agreements” with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, under which local law enforcement officers are deputized to conduct federal immigration enforcement.
Local law enforcement entanglement in immigration enforcement, which is solely a federal matter, breaks the longstanding trust between local governments and immigrant communities. Since at least 2011, the Council has limited the New York City Police Department’s and the New York City Department of Correction’s ability to cooperate with immigration authorities. This year, the Council passed legislation that extends the restrictions on cooperation to the New York City Department of Probation.
Helping Immigrants Avoid Fraudulent Practices
In April, the Council’s Consumer Affairs Committee passed legislation that strengthened existing regulations of Immigration Assistance Services. The bill imposes stricter guidelines for Immigration Service Providers (ISPs) and further protects consumers from the unauthorized practice of the law. ISPs are non-attorneys who offer immigration assistance often advertising as “notarios,” a term that in in this country refers to a notary public, but in other countries suggests someone with legal training. The bill requires ISPs to include specific language in their contracts related to the provider’s limitations and duties; requires additional posting of signage in English and any of the languages of the customers served; and prohibits providers from offering or providing services that should only be provided by an attorney or immigration expert.