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New York, Opinion

An Open Letter to New York City Immigrant Communities

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To New York City’s Immigrant Communities:

During these uncertain times we must remind ourselves of who we are as a city and hold steadfast to the values that we cherish and hold dear.  The values of hard work, respect and coming together during times of adversity define us as New Yorkers.  That will not change, no matter who is President.

New York City has always been deeply committed to protecting the rights of our immigrant communities regardless of their status.  Our commitment to that will never waiver.

To address harsh immigration enforcement policies and Congress’s inability to pass comprehensive immigration reform, we enacted legislation that significantly limits the NYPD and Department of Correction’s cooperation with immigration authorities.  As a result, our immigrant communities are shielded from harsh immigration policies that tear families apart.  This will not change.

To ensure that New York City immigrants have a meaningful opportunity to seek immigration relief, the City Council funds a range of free immigration legal services programs.  The New York Immigrant Family Unit Project provides legal counsel to immigrants in detention who face deportation.  The Unaccompanied Minors and Families initiative ensures that every unaccompanied minor living in New York City has access to legal advice and representation during removal proceedings.  Under this program, countless mothers who fled Central America with their children also receive legal representation.  The City Council also brings community partners and free legal services into neighborhoods across the five boroughs through our Key to the City events and CUNY Citizenship Now initiatives.  This will not change.

The health and well-being of our immigrant community has also been of great importance to the City Council.  As a result, we launched our Immigrant Health Initiative, which makes quality healthcare accessible to immigrants.  The City has also implemented a comprehensive language access policy to reduce barriers to accessing vital city services.  New York City has also launched multiple initiatives to enhance civic participation, including the IDNYC program and participatory budgeting, which gives communities the opportunity to vote on funding initiatives that benefit their communities.  This will not change.

New York City’s commitment to protecting and educating immigrant New Yorkers with information is stronger than ever.  We urge all immigrant New Yorkers who are concerned about the recent election to contact one of the trusted legal service organizations that has partnered with the City to provide free immigration screenings and services, or one of the many community organizations in your neighborhood that provides information about immigration and city services and protections.  Referrals to trusted organizations are also available by calling 311.

As always, the City of New York is prepared to defend and protect our immigrant communities.  We will never turn our back on you.  This will not change.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Immigration Committee Chair Carlos Menchaca and Council Member Daniel Dromm

November 28, 2016

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