New York City is globally renowned for embracing and integrating millions of immigrant residents, who are at the heart of the city’s tremendous cultural, social, and economic vibrancy. Citywide, immigrants represent 37 percent of the population, 45 percent of the workforce, and 49 percent of small business owners.1 In recent years, New York City (NYC) has taken tremendous steps forward to make itself welcoming to immigrants, including creating a municipal identification card (IDNYC), curtailing cooperation with federal immigration enforcement that undermines community-police relations, expanding access to pre-kindergarten and community schools, connecting thousands of immigrant New Yorkers to free, comprehensive immigration legal services, and more. Clearly under the leadership of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, and Immigration Chair Carlos Menchaca, NYC is headed in the right direction.
Still, much work remains to be done to ensure that immigrant New Yorkers have access to all the opportunities they need. Whether it be the child studying in the overcrowded, ill-equipped classroom, the limited-English proficient parent struggling to find work because she cannot find an affordable English class, or the working-class family facing displacement from its rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood, immigrants across NYC have tremendous unmet needs, and barriers to meeting them, that require special attention.
The upcoming NYC budget for Fiscal Year 2017 marks a tremendous opportunity to take further steps to address the needs of immigrant New Yorkers. This report from the Asian American Federation (AAF), Coalition for Asian-American Children and Families (CACF), Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA), Make the Road New York (MRNY), and New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) highlights budget priorities for working-class immigrant New Yorkers that emanate from these organizations’ extensive community engagement and deep issue expertise.
The list is not exhaustive, but rather highlights key items that Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito, Finance Chair Ferreras-Copeland, and the members of the City Council should carefully consider. Recently, Speaker Mark-Viverito and the Council issued their budget response, and the authors commend them for prioritizing initiatives for immigrant New Yorkers. Drawing from that response and this report, those completing the NYC budget should take the necessary actions to ensure that the final product prioritizes the needs and interests of immigrant communities as much as possible.