New York City faces a pivotal election year that will determine its leaders, including the next mayor, city comptroller, and City Councilmembers from all 51 districts, for the next four years. These electoral contests will offer city government an opportunity to demonstrate its commitments and how it will devote resources to a host of programs and services that have a direct, immediate effect on immigrant communities—communities that have long been vital to the growth and very fabric of our city, but also long subjected to systemic discrimination, inequity, and exclusion. As candidates move forward in the 2021 electoral process, they must take a bold stand and formalize their commitment to the rights and needs of immigrant New Yorkers, who are a driving force of our resilient city and who urgently need support at this unprecedented moment.
This white paper—Dignity, Community, & Power: A 2021 Vision for NYC’s Immigrant Communities—outlines this bold and vital agenda. It provides a broad range of recommendations from working-class immigrant New Yorkers that mayoral and other candidates should incorporate into their platforms. While New York City is often considered a model city in terms of offering protection and support to its immigrant residents, our immigrant communities’ experiences have shown that, in reality, the City can and must do more. This white paper proposes a number of ways in which New York City can take critical steps to protect immigrant community members, ensure durable rights, and provide models for progressive cities and states around the nation. For example, by pioneering models to hold local law enforcement officers accountable when they work with federal immigration enforcement, supporting initiatives that provide access to counsel for immigrants facing deportation, and expanding the bounds of unemployment programs for workers, incoming elected officials can steer our city towards innovation, safety, community empowerment, and inclusive growth. This white paper then focuses on entrenched problems that make it difficult or impossible for immigrant community members to live safe and healthy lives, and steps that the City must take to ensure access to these basic survival rights. Through this framework, the City’s next leaders can make a transformational impact on the lives of immigrant New Yorkers and the City as a whole, and they can lead other cities across the nation in supporting immigrant communities.