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“Key to the City” Initiative Launches Sixth Season in Sunset Park; Successful Initiative Has Served 28,000 New Yorkers


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Press Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage,  Main Phone: 212 627 2227 X235,  Cell Phone: 413-687-5160,  E-mail: tyaku@nyic.org
New York  (Saturday, September 24, 2016)

“Key to the City” Initiative Launches Sixth Season in Sunset Park; Successful Initiative Has Served 28,000 New Yorkers

At P.S. 24 in Sunset Park on Saturday, September 24th, hundreds of immigrant community members lined up to apply for consular identification cards and passports, receive free immigration legal assistance, and access a full range of social, educational, health, and financial workshops and services. The event marks the first in the sixth season of the New York Immigration Coalition’s City Council-funded “Key to the City” Initiative (KTTC). Since 2011, this Initiative has served over 28,000 New Yorkers from nearly 64 countries, providing more than 17,000 with identity documents and, thanks to a unique partnership with the New York Legal Assistance Group, provided thousands with immigration legal assistance. Key to the City has worked with 22 New York City Public Schools across the five boroughs and to date has hosted more than 40 events.

This fiscal year, City Council has increased their investment to fund even more Key to the City Initiative events with full immigration legal clinics at every event in partnership with NYLAG and a new financial literacy component in partnership withQualitas of Life Foundation. As immigrant communities in New York continue to face a shortage of local, accessible services, this expanded investment demonstrates the impact of community-minded leadership that New Yorkers can count on from our City Council. As we look forward to a year of events across New York City, we are excited for the potential of the Key to the City Initiative to be the premier one-stop-shop for immigrant communities seeking holistic, community-based services – now reaching more communities and more Council Districts.

“We are enormously grateful to New York City Council for consistently expanding their investment in the Key to the City Initiative so that we can serve New Yorkers who are in tremendous need of resources and legal support. In a time of harmful anti-immigrant rhetoric and fear-mongering, it is our duty to ensure that our communities understand their rights and have the most up-to-date information to support their families,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “It is with the support of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito alongside her colleagues in the New York City Council and our strong partnerships with Central American, South American, and Caribbean Consulates, New York’s public schools, community groups, and legal service partners, such as NYLAG, that we are able to put together a comprehensive one-stop-shop event for immigrant communities This fall, our Key to the City events are even bigger than before and we look forward to supporting thousands of more New Yorkers across the 5 boroughs.”

City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Committee on Immigration attended Saturday’s event, speaking to attendees and supporting his constituents.

He said, “It’s in our city’s best interest to help residents maintain health and home, educate themselves and their families, and to be productive, active members of their communities. To its credit, New York City recognizes the value of helping residents and provides a myriad of valuable services. Sadly, too many New Yorkers are unaware of City services or how to access them. Key to the City events are one practical way to bridge the gap between residents’ needs and City services. In a welcoming format, Key to the City events bring a variety of quality City services and service organizations directly to the neighborhoods and people who need them. They take place in familiar, easy-to-access locations, and use targeted outreach to touch as many people as possible. I thank my Council colleagues and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for increasing Key to the City funding. I also thank the advocates and service organizations like NYIC, NYLAG and Qualitas of Life for their efforts in making these much anticipated events possible.”

KTTC was originally launched with the support of the New York City Council after the NYIC successfully advocated for the NYPD and the DOE to expand the list of acceptable forms of IDs that NYPD School Safety Agents could accept to include consular ID cards and foreign passports. Since advocating for this policy change, the NYIC has worked in close collaboration with the consulates of Latin America and the Caribbean to bring their consular services to schools in immigrant neighborhoods alongside social, educational, and legal services, workshops, and clinics.

Council Member Carlos Menchaca (right) with staff from NYIC, IDNYC, Atlas DIY,  NYLAG, Academy of Medican & Public Health Services, Qualitas of Life Foundation, and the Guatemalan Consulate at this Saturday's KTTC.

Diego Gómez Pickering, Consul General of Mexico in New York said, “The Consulate General of Mexico welcomes the launch of the sixth season of the Key to the City Initiative and recognizes NYIC’s commendable leadership and advocacy on behalf of the immigrant communities in New York, many of whom are of Mexican origin. The NYIC and the Mexican Consulate in New York established a strong partnership through the Key to the City Initiative since 2011. This alliance has brought invaluable support and comprehensive services to our communities, including hosting our Consulates on Wheels to provide legal screenings, health information sessions and workshops, and in general facilitating access to numerous benefits in the neighborhoods where Mexicans live. I look forward to continuing working with the NYIC, which has become vital in our day-to-day activities to address the developing needs of the Mexican Community.”

As these events have expanded, we have used them as a vehicle to inform communities on the latest developments in comprehensive immigration reform, who is eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), how to apply for a tax identification number, where local adult education opportunities exist, how to access affordable health care, how to avoid becoming a victim of immigration fraud, and much more. Since November 2014, the NYIC has worked in partnership with the New York Legal Assistance Group(NYLAG) to offer full legal screenings at all events, which will now be funded by City Council.

“By bringing a broad range of vital services directly to immigrant communities across the City, the Key to the City initiative provides an invaluable lifeline to immigrants, who are often unaware of their rights, or afraid to seek assistance. We are so grateful to Speaker Mark-Viverito and Council Member Menchaca for not only continuing to support KTTC, but actually doubling the number of events being held in the new season,” said Beth Goldman, President and Attorney-in-Charge of the New York Legal Assistance Group. “We look forward to partnering with our friends at the New York Immigration Coalition and the many other KTTC partners to provide comprehensive legal screenings to immigrants in a safe and welcoming setting.” 

Additional partners for Saturday’s KTTC included Atlas DIYAmalgamated BankAcademy of Medical and Public Health ServicesBrooklyn District Attorney’s OfficeCAMBADepartment of LaborGalapagos Center for New AmericansIDNYC, Latina Share Cancer Support Center, Mental Health Association of NYMixteca Organization, IncNew American Chambers of CommerceNYC Commission on Human RightsOffice of Emergency Management and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

"On behalf of Qualitas of Life Foundation, we are very excited to begin participation in the Key to the City program, with new ideas for bringing financial education to Hispanic immigrants, and to foster greater financial inclusion in New York!” saidSusana Camarena, executive director of Qualitas of Life Foundation.

María Caba, director of outreach at Atlas DIY said, "The Key to the City events have been crucial in empowering our immigrant communities with necessary resources. As the New York Immigration Coalition starts another season of providing a one-stop shop for NYC immigrant families, Atlas:DIY is incredibly excited to once again be collaboratively working with The New York City Council and CBO's throughout the five boroughs to educate and empower our community through these events. As a youth empowerment organization based in Sunset Park, we commend the dedication of our New York City Council Member, Carlos Menchaca, and our partner organizations in making sure these events really meet the needs of immigrant communities."

Mon Yuck Yu, executive vice president & chief of staff at Academy of Medical & Public Health Services said, "Key to the City brings to Sunset Park a one-stop-shop for immigrants to process their consular IDs, while disseminating important information about health, financial, education, and legal services right here in our neighborhood. The Academy of Medical & Public Health Services is proud to work with the New York Immigration Coalition to empower our population with knowledge about their healthcare and immigrant rights during the course of the event. Day in and day out, we care firsthand for individuals in our community who haven’t seen a healthcare provider in decades, who have to make the decision between affording their next meal or going to the doctor. Key to the City is a chance for us to begin changing this discourse. We will be conducting a presentation on health access options, signing up attendees for free health screening and consultation appointments, and making appointments to assist in the application of DACA. This is an incredible opportunity to harvest the power of community to open new doors for our immigrant neighbors."

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The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC)  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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