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Know Your Rights
Source: Make the Road New York
Subject: Strategic Policy Advocacy
Type: Pubs & Reports

Budget Priorities for Immigrant NYC: How NYC Can Best Use Its Resources to Lead the Way in Trump Era

Budget Priorities for Immigrant NYC: How NYC Can Best Use Its Resources to Lead the Way in Trump Era

Make the Road New York’s Immigrant Budget Brief identifies priorities for funding, including immigration legal services, adult literacy, and restorative justice

As New York City (NYC) enters the final phase of budget negotiations, Make the Road New York released a new policy brief, “Budget Priorities for Immigrant NYC: How NYC Can Best Use Its Resources to Lead the Way in the Era of Trump,” highlighting top priorities for ensuring protection and opportunity for immigrant communities in the Trump era. The policy brief identifies several areas where New York City has already led the way in recent years, including universal legal representation for detained immigrants through the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), funding for adult literacy, and initiatives to expand health access. As immigrant communities face attacks from Washington, “Budget Priorities for Immigrant NYC” underscores the need to expand funding for legal representation—with due process for all system, regardless of prior interactions with the criminal justice system—ensuring base-line funding for adult literacy, and increasing investments in restorative justice initiatives to end the school-to-prison pipeline. 

Immigrants are an indispensable part of NYC’s communities and economy, with immigrants representing 37 percent of the population, 45 percent of the workforce, and 49 percent of small business owners. In recent years, New York City has distinguished itself for a pro-immigrant record, by creating a municipal identification card (IDNYC), drawing a bright line between immigration enforcement and local law enforcement, creating NYIFUP to ensure due process for all detained immigrants, and increasing resources for adult literacy. 

Four months after the beginning of the onslaught against immigrant communities from the Trump administration and a Republican-controlled Congress, “Budget Priorities for Immigrant NYC” argues that New York City must renew its commitment to funding priorities for immigrant communities. 

Javier H. Valdés, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York, said, “This year’s budget offers a key opportunity for New York City to continue leading the way for immigrant communities. With new attacks from Washington each week, our City must stand firm and redouble its efforts to protect and expand opportunities for immigrant communities. This means ensuring that funding for NYIFUP is increased, that resources for adult literacy are maintained, and that the City prioritize funding for immigrant health access and restorative justice.” 

The full list of priorities in the “Budget Priorities for Immigrant NYC” is below:

2018 Budget Priorities for Immigrant NYC*

Immigration Legal Services

  • Baseline and expand funding for the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project to $12 million for the coming year, without any limitation to legal representation based on criminal history.
  • Expand resources to $21.4 million for Immigrant Opportunity Initiative (IOI) and complex case funding.
  • Baseline the ICARE initiative at $3.8 million dollars to ensure the representation of unaccompanied minors fleeing violence in their home countries.
  • Create a fund to support Legal Permanent Residents’ efforts to naturalize, with an initial funding level of $20.7 million. 

Raids Rapid Response

  • Provide $700,000 for a Rapid Response Raid Initiative to confirm ICE raids and support affected family members and the community. 

Adult Literacy

  • Baseline $12 million in crucial support for our city’s adult literacy system.  

Health Care

  • Allocate $5 million for the Access Health NYC initiative. 
  • Provide $1.8 million in funding for the Immigrant Health Initiative, which will support programs that address health care disparities that exist in immigrant communities.
  • Increase base-lined food funding $22 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) to support soup kitchens, food pantries and other emergency food providers.
  • Invest in ongoing support to Action Health NYC, a new initiative first announced as “Direct Access” by Mayor de Blasio as part of a comprehensive plan to improve healthcare access for NYC’s immigrant population.

Restorative Justice

  • Invest $5 million to expand the City Council Restorative Practices Citywide Initiative to 50 Schools.
  • Invest $1.4 million (and $2.1 million and $2.8 million in the subsequent two years) to expand the DOE Restorative Practices Program to roughly 180 schools in 4 high-needs school districts.
  • Invest $2.6 million for each of the next three years to pilot a Mental Health Support Continuum initiative at 20 High-Needs Schools).

Hate Violence and Human Rights

  • Increase funding for the NYC Commission on Human Rights by $6.2 million dollars to respond to increased hate violence and discrimination targeting New York’s immigrant, LGBTQ and other communities of color.

Workers’ Rights

  • NYC should increase resources for The Department of Consumer Affairs and its Office of Labor Policy and Standards to educate and defend immigrant families targeted by notario fraud, predatory sales practices, worker exploitation and more. 


  • Allocate sufficient resources to guarantee a right to counsel for all New York tenants living under 200 percent of the federal poverty line.
  • Continue to deliver on the promise of more than $33 million towards the anti-displacement legal services effort and $5 million for community outreach efforts.
  • Allocate sufficient resources to be able to deploy the Certificate of No Harassment Program.

* The list is not exhaustive, but rather highlights a series of top-priority items for New York’s immigrant communities, to which Mayor De Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito, and the members of the City Council should give careful consideration.

** “Base-lining” refers to using current funding levels as the “baseline” for establishing future funding requirements in subsequent budgets.