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Coalition Announces 2016 State Advocacy Priorities, Outlines Key Legislative Issues at Albany Leaders Summit

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyag,  Main Phone: 413-687-5160,  E-mail: tyaku@nyic.org
New York  (Tuesday, January 26, 2016)

Coalition Announces 2016 State Advocacy Priorities, Outlines Key Legislative Issues at Albany Leaders Summit

 (New York, NY) At the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany, the New York Immigration Coalition held its 19th annual Albany gathering of immigrant leaders at the 2016 Albany Leaders Summit. This year’s event drew dozens of NYIC board members and executive leaders of its member organizations, who presented the NYIC’s 2016 “Immigrant Blueprint” in meetings with legislators throughout the day. The Blueprint outlines five major major ‘pillars’ of policy and budget priorities including strengthening integration efforts through expanding adult education, language access, and workforce development; protecting worker rights, including the rights of thousands of farmworkers; and expanding healthcare access for immigrants and their families.

Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition said, “We are pleased to launch the 2016 priorities from our ‘Immigrant Blueprint’ today in Albany, which is our long-term vision on how to continue to improve outcomes for New York State’s immigrant communities. With more than four million immigrants in New York State, there is much more that our State must do to ensure that all of our immigrant communities from Brentwood to Buffalo are able to thrive. Today, our Coalition meets with legislators to share with them our vision to strengthen immigrant New York, and outline where our communities still lack essential supports and services. We look forward to working with the Governor and the State Legislature to put in place solid programs and policies to put our State on the map as a leader in immigrant integration and immigrant rights.”

  
[Photo top left] NYIC executive director Steven Choi welcomes members to the Albany Leaders Summit 2015 at Empire State Plaza. [Photo top right]NYIC Director of State Advocacy Jackie Vimo speaks about language access needs in New York State. [Photo bottom left] NYIC Regional Outreach Associate Francis Madi speaks about tuition equity for all students regardless of immigration status. [Photo bottom right] Christina Chang, NYIC immigration policy manager, discusses the 5 pillars of the 2016 Immigrant Blueprint.

Among the NYIC’s 2016 priorities are

  • Expanding Adult Literacy Education (ALE) to support more community-based adult education programming by investing $17.2m in ALE funding in the enacted FY2017 budget.
  • Opening access to state tuition assistance to all students, regardless of immigration status, in effect allowing over eight thousand young New York State undocumented immigrants to receive important financial assistance to attend college.
  • Expanding health coverage for all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status.
  • Expanding access to high school diplomas through multiple pathways.
  • Ensure all New York motorists have access to driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status.
  • Ending collaboration between local and state law enforcement and immigration officials.
  • Extending worker protections to farm workers.
  • Improving enforcement of language access laws and increase access for immigrants across New York State, particularly in upstate New York.  
  • Expanding access to affordable, reliable legal services to immigrants by investing $30 million in legal services for immigrants, $1 million for anti-fraud efforts, $2 million to place immigration attorneys in underserved areas.

The 2016 NYIC Immigrant Blueprint and backgrounders on each priority can be found at www.thenyic.org/immigrantblueprint2016.


Alphonso David, Counsel to New York State Governor Cuomo engages with NYIC members to discuss the 2016 Immigrant Blueprint for New York

 
[Photo Left ]State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie speaks to NYIC's members. [Photo Right] NY State Senator Jose Peralta discusses NYIC's 2016 Immigrant Blueprint.

NYIC’s board members and supporters expressed their thoughts on the NYIC’s Immigrant Blueprint, shared it with legislators in Albany, and discussed how best to collaborate with the State to ensure swift policy changes.

"United Neighborhood Houses (UNH) is proud to join the New York Immigration Coalition in advancing the Immigrant Blueprint for New York,” said Kevin Douglas, co-director of Policy & Advocacy, United Neighborhood Houses and board member of the NYIC. “As a network of settlement houses and community centers serving the most vulnerable New Yorkers, UNH endorses the NYIC vision for strengthening immigrant communities by promoting education, health, justice and worker rights. In particular, we look forward to partnering to secure state investments in adult education and the DREAM Act.”

"Immigrants in New York make vital economic, social, and cultural contributions to our society every day, yet this community continues to be marginalized by policies that fail to adequately meet their needs. Currently, many immigrants in New York do not have access to adequate legal services to help them navigate our complex immigration laws. Like many other social service agencies, we have seen this lack of resources first hand at Cabrini Immigrant Services, where we have a wait list of 50 families waiting for legal services,” Javier Baron,director, Cabrini Immigrant Services "Increasing funding for these services must become a priority for New York State. We urge New York State legislators to prioritize these issues that affect immigrant communities and to take steps to open the doors for greater opportunities for this population."


New York Immigration Coalition and its members including NICE, Arab American Association of NY, Staten Island Workers Center, CARECEN, SEPA Mujer, Cabrini Immigrant Services, Workers United, Community Resource Center, Jacob Riis Settlement House, African Services Committee, Long Island Immigrant Student Advocates, Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of New York, Council of Peoples Organization, Neighbors Link Network, Hudson Valley Community Coalition. 

"Integration is the path through which New Americans become an integral part of the American social tapestry and embrace  its values,” said NYIC board member and African Services Committee policy advocacy Bakary Tandia. “More importantly, it  enables  them to inject fresh energy into the American economic engine while pursuing their American Dream. But, this requires increased resources on the part of the state, to adequately meet their needs for adult education and workforce development, and language access."

“We are proud to stand in solidarity with our allies to unveil a common agenda for the coming year,” said Milan Bhatt, executive director of the Community Resource Center and NYIC board member. “The often crippling challenges facing Westchester’s burgeoning immigrant population, reflecting our statewide priorities, suggest the finish line is still far off when it comes to ensuring adequate protections, services, and pathways to opportunity for our communities. We are seeking concrete commitments from lawmakers in Albany to take action now.”

Nelly Amaya, an Ecuadorian immigrant member of SEPA Mujer Leader said, "Based on personal experience, I know what it is like to be confronted and detained unjustly by Immigrations Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the trauma it causes. No family should ever be separated like that and the police should not be collaborating with immigration officials. This is why I am here today to advocate for the enforcement of existing agreements with State Law Enforcement officials to cease collaboration with ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and to stop anti-immigrant legislation. The Immigrant Blueprint for New York is not only a priority for me, but for my entire community.”

NYIC board member and CARECEN program director Pat Young said, "Long Island's immigrants suffer from a lack of free and low cost legal services, leaving organizations such as ours overwhelmed by the need in our communities. In effect, Long Island immigrants are susceptible to exploitation by notarios and other unlicensed attorneys. We call on our State to seriously consider the excellent recommendations that our Coalition's blueprint offers this year and to start taking the necessary steps to meet our needs immediately."

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The New York Immigration Coalition is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees. The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.

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