Our model integrates four core strategies for concrete change that millions of families feel every day:
Legal and Survival Services to tackle discrimination, abuse and poverty;
Transformative Education to develop community members’ abilities to lead our organization, our movement, and society;
Community Organizing to transform the systems and power structures impacting our communities; and
Policy Innovation to rewrite unjust rules and make our democracy truly accountable to all of us.
Staff and members repeat a common refrain: “Make the Road is my second home.” Regardless of immigration status, race, or gender identity, all find safety, support, and solidarity here. Everyone who comes with an individual story of abuse and exploitation finds that they are not alone – that in collectivizing our experiences and voices, we can build the power to change not just one case, but entire systems.
Our Victories / Recent Impact
Our members have achieved victories for millions in New York and increasingly at the national level. These are just a few:
VICTORY! New Yorkers win police accountability and transparency reforms!
On the week of June 8th, after nearly 6 years of organizing efforts by Make the Road NY members, and our coalition Communities United for Police Reform, a package of three bills called the Safer NY Act passed.
The package will help address the systemic lack of police accountability and increase transparency. After years of organizing, led by young people and alongside families of New Yorkers who have been killed by police, we succeeded to #Repeal50A, pass the #STATAct and the #SpecialProsecutor bill.
On May 21st, with the help of The Illuminator, we projected and said the names of the 67 members we have lost due to COVID-19.
As we were #NamingTheLost, we also continued to demand a #Recovery4All. A recovery in which New York State creates a $3.5 billion Excluded Worker Fund, acts to #CancelRent, and to #FreeThemAll by releasing those at risk of contracting the virus from prisons and detention centers.
We released a major new report with our partner Hester Street called “Excluded in the Epicenter.”
The report presents the results of a quantitative and qualitative survey of nearly 250 working-class immigrant, Black, and Brown New Yorkers about their experiences during this crisis.
The report reveals a dire situation for our community members’ healthcare, income, housing insecurity and education, with nine out of ten households suffering job or income loss and facing concerns about being able to pay rent! Despite the concentrated impact of the crisis in our communities, residents have been overwhelmingly excluded from government solutions. THIS is why we demand that Washington and Albany step up to deliver a #Recovery4All!
On May Day, we demanded Gov. Cuomo to support a #Recovery4All!
Immigrant, Black and Brown New Yorkers led a caravan through Gov. Cuomo’s office, Times Square, and Jeff Bezo’s multi-million dollar home to make our demands clear:
Create a $3.5 billion Excluded Workers’ Fund to support those left out of the federal stimulus, by raising taxes on the 112 billionaires in New York, #CancelRent to keep tenants in their homes, and #FreeThemAll, including incarcerated and detained community members at risk due to COVID-19.
We won the legalization of e-bikes!
On April 1st we won our fight to legalize e-bikes across New York State to protect delivery workers from risk of arrest or deportation for using motorized bikes. Delivery workers are at the frontline right now feeding our city!
Especially during this time, every possible protection must be extended to these workers, including wage replacements. We will fight for all of the low wage workers who continue to work through this crisis, and whose jobs are threatened by it.
This victory was possible because of our organizing with The Deliver Justice Coalition and elected allies to #DeliverJustice for our delivery workers. ¡Sí se pudo!
We won a moratorium on evictions!
With our allies in the Housing Justice for All coalition, we won a moratorium on evictions across New York State. There will be no housing lawsuits and no evictions during the COVID-19 crisis, if not longer.
To truly protect working-class New Yorkers through this crisis we will need a freeze on rent and utility payments, expanded tenants’ rights and housing for the homeless. We have been facing a housing crisis for decades, now is the time for our city and state policy makers to act to protect all of us.
UPDATE: Supreme Court lifts injunction on Public Charge rule
The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to lift the nationwide injunction on the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule, allowing it to take effect. This means that immigrants who are in the process of applying for lawful permanent resident status through family-based petitions will be subjected to a racist wealth test.
The Supreme Court’s decision in our case, Make the Road New York v. Cuccinelli, lifts the last remaining nationwide injunction that blocked the rule from going into effect. As a lead plaintiff in federal court, we’ll keep fighting to stop this reckless policy.
Get the latest information and resources here.
After a fight of almost 20 years, our community won a great victory – people in the state of New York are now eligible to apply for a driver’s license, regardless of immigration status. The new law, Green Light NY, went into effect on Monday, December 16, 2019. Click here for more info.
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has updated their website to provide information, including the list of acceptable documents. Check it out!
¡Licencias de conducir para todos están aquí! Todas las personas en el estado de Nueva York son elegibles para solicitar una licencia de conducir, independientemente de su estado migratorio. Haz clic para más información en Español.
We Marched to Defend DACA and TPS!
Over 200 undocumented youth, community leaders and allies joined us at Battery Park on Oct. 26th, as we began an 18-day march from New York City to Washington, D.C. to fight for DACA and TPS!
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Nov. 12th on Trump’s unlawful termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy — the futures of 700,000 impacted immigrant youth are at stake. Similarly, over 300,000 Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients wait to hear news on the program’s court case.
VICTORY! Access to driver’s licences restored for all!
After two decades of organizing, New York state will finally restore driver’s licenses to all, regardless of immigration status! Families will be able to take their children to school, drive to work and carry out our basic needs, without fear that a traffic stop could lead to deportation.
The historic passage of the Green Light NY bill will bring enormous benefits, boosting our state’s economy, creating economic opportunities for immigrants, improving road safety, and keeping families together.
The biggest housing VICTORY in a generation!
After decades of work, our movement won the biggest housing victory in a generation, permanently renewing New York’s rent laws and expanding tenant protections that will benefit millions across the state. The historic bills close several landlord-friendly loopholes and repeal “vacancy decontrol.” This means that regulated apartments will stay regulated — permanently.
This victory shows our potential, but we still have a fight ahead of us. We’ve only just begun. ¡Sí se pudo!
The most ambitious city-level climate bill passes City Council!
On April 18th, The New York City Council passed legislation to become the first city worldwide to set comprehensive and specific limits on climate pollution from large buildings, which are the city’s top source of pollution. This came as a result of a campaign Make the Road New York and many other groups organized.
At a time when our current president denounces climate change as a myth, New York City sends a strong message that climate change is real and we are doing everything we can to protect our city and make our world livable for future generations.
JPMorgan Chase & Wells Fargo back away from financing private prisons!
On March 5th, JPMorgan Chase announced it will stop financing private prisons and immigrant detention companies! And on March 13th, Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan told House Financial Services Committee member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that they are exiting their relationships with both GEO Group and Core Civic, the largest private prison corporations in the country.
This follows the incredible work of our members and allies in our Corporate Backers of Hate campaign, which has exposed abuses of private prisons and detention centers and calling on banks to stop financing them.
Westchester signs order to provide language access for immigrants!
On March 5th, Westchester County Executive, George Latimer signed an Executive Order that requires all County agencies to provide translation and interpretation, ensuring equal access to services for thousands of its residents who are not yet proficient in English.
This makes Westchester County one of the first suburban counties in the U.S. to enact such a progressive language access policy. Starting today, Westchester speaks our language!
People power beats world’s richest man! #NoAmazonNYC
On February 14, Amazon canceled its plans to build a headquarters in our city! This comes after much organizing work by us and others who strongly opposed this terrible deal.
This announcement is a landmark victory for our communities and shows the power of the people, even when taking on the world’s richest man. Our members and allies stood firm against Governor Cuomo’s plan to give away more than $3 billion in taxpayer giveaways so that Amazon could force its empire on our neighborhoods.
Our community’s power prevented a very toxic relationship for our New York City. ¡Sí se pudo!
We broke ground on our landmark community center!
On February 7, Make the Road New York broke ground on our new landmark Make the Road Center in Queens!
We gathered with community members, elected officials, partners, and supporters to celebrate the building of our permanent home— the first place of its kind in New York City.
The 24,000 square foot, 3-story building will give us the space and resources to increase our impact. It will be a beacon of hope signifying the dignity and worth of every immigrant, and an unequivocal statement that we are here to stay, stronger than ever.
Click here to learn more about this campaign.
The New York Dream Act becomes a reality for immigrant youth!
On January 23rd, 2019, after nearly a decade of organizing efforts, the NY Dream Act finally passed both in the Assembly and Senate!
The NY Dream Act allows undocumented students who meet the criteria to apply for state financial aid. This bill is critical in providing equal opportunity to undocumented youth in our state. Many of our members and organizers have been going to Albany, taking the streets, calling on the Governor and state leaders to make this a reality for years. Thank you to all the bill sponsors! ¡Sí se pudo!
NYC guarantees healthcare for all, regardless of immigration status!
The first victory of 2019! Mayor de Blasio announced his plan to guarantee healthcare for all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status
The plan announced on Tuesday, January 8th, will serve 600,000 New Yorkers without insurance by strengthening NYC’s public health insurance option, MetroPlus, and guaranteeing that anyone ineligible for insurance – including undocumented New Yorkers – has direct access to healthcare.
We are proud to have been part of various mayoral task forces and commissions that led to this much-needed victory.
We’re fighting back DHS’s proposed analysis of Public Charge!
A couple of months ago, the Trump administration quietly announced this proposal, which will have an enormous impact on our communities. It will force many immigrant families to choose between accessing the food assistance, housing assistance, and public health insurance that they need, and preserving their ability to obtain legal status in this country. Learn more on our Know Your Rights page.
We are working hard to make sure that community members have accurate information and don’t disenroll from benefits in a panic at this time, as this is still only a proposal.
Our 2018 Annual Gala was truly spectacular!
We gathered together with such an inspiring crowd of people — all who support Make the Road New York in so many ways — to celebrate our victories, and renew our energy and power for the fight ahead.
Our members, communities, and organization are in the midst of a very intense time. Make the Road New York will continue to respond and push on the path forward. We will remain at the forefront of the fight against hate and oppression. As Ady said, “as we spend our lives building this road, it will be more bold and beautiful and joyous if we make it together.” Check out some of the best moments from our gala.
Report calls for transparency and a complete overhaul of the economic development system!
On August 2, 2018, we released a report with the Fiscal Policy Institute showing how Governor Cuomo’s signature economic development program shortchanges communities of color — read about it in The New York Times.
In the report, “Shortchanged: Racial Disparities in New York’s Economic Development Programs,” we call for transparency and a complete overhaul of the economic development system in order to invest in strategies proven to support all New Yorkers, including people of color.
NYS Pension Funds divest from private prisons and immigrant detention centers!
On July 13th, 2018, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced that the New York State pension funds will divest from private prison and immigrant detention companies! This is a huge victory for our movement!
It sends a strong message: New York won’t be complicit in the mass criminalization of people of color and the tearing apart of immigrant families. We applaud Comptroller DiNapoli for making New York the first state to divest from private prisons, a bold action to stand with our community. And we thank Enlace for working with us on this important effort.
What is happening at the border, and across the US, is an abomination. Hundreds of children are being detained in NY, without their parents, with dozens flown here from Texas.
On June 21st, 2018 we jumped into action at LaGuardia airport, to welcome them and let them know they are not alone. Trump’s executive order to detain families together is not a solution. It is an attempt to impose an indefinite jail sentence on entire families.
Exposing the Corporate Backers of Hate!
“Bankrolling Oppression: How Wall Street Companies Finance the Private Prison and Immigrant Detention Industry” reveals how JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and BlackRock have become a critical piece of a $5 billion industry. Led by for-profit prison companies CoreCivic and GEO Group, these Wall Street companies are profiting off of tearing apart families.
Our demand is clear: Stop financing hate!
Fighting for a clean #DreamActNow!
Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has caused a humanitarian crisis: endangering the lives of 800,000 immigrant youth and their families. Every day, more than 100 individuals lose DACA status. Trump has also left hundreds of thousands of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders in limbo.
We’re fighting back with everything we have and demanding that Congress take action in support of a clean Dream Act and protections for TPS holders.
Now we’re in Westchester!
The Westchester Hispanic Coalition (WHC), which has provided trusted services to immigrants for 43 years, is merging with Make the Road New York. WHC will become the MRNY Westchester office, increasing organizing, policy, civic engagement, and media capacity in Westchester County.
Together, we have already expanded critical services in Westchester and got the local Immigrant Protection Act passed! We are excited to join forces and welcome WHC’s clients and staff to the MRNY family.
Going to court to protect DACA
Together, with six Dreamers who are MRNY members, we filed the first lawsuit challenging the termination of DACA. In February 2018, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction in our case, Batalla Vidal v. Nielson. The court recognized the “substantial and imminent irreparable harm” that DACA recipients would suffer should the program end.
This is the second time a federal judge has validated our claims — a major victory in a case that has the potential to benefit hundreds of thousands of immigrant families and shift this country’s policy climate.
Protecting NYC tenants
On December 20, 2017, After a ten-year fight, the Asthma-Free Housing Act – which requires landlords to inspect for and address asthma triggers annually to keep kids safely in their homes – became law. The NYC Council also passed the Certificate of No Harassment legislation to prevent landlords with a history of tenant harassment from obtaining permits to demolish or renovate their buildings.
These wins came thanks to the fierce determination and leadership of Make the Road New York members.
Standing up to the Corporate Backers of Hate!
On June 8, 2017, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer announced that the NYC Employee Retirement Systems pension funds will divest from private prison and immigrant detention companies. We have been calling attention to corporations that are profiting off of the incarceration of immigrants and people of color, and demanding financiers like JPMorgan Chase divest from CoreCivic and GEO Group.
This announcement sends a strong message: New York won’t support corporations that are needlessly locking up members of our communities.
Country’s strongest state executive order protecting immigrants’ information
On September 15, 2017, after over a decade of organizing by MRNY and allies, Governor Cuomo signed one of the country’s strongest executive orders prohibiting state agencies from gathering and sharing immigration status information with federal immigration authorities.
This means that in the vast majority of situations, immigrants across New York State can interact with police and other state agencies with a legal guarantee that they will not be asked their immigration status. Law enforcement agencies will be barred from sharing any personal information with ICE for immigration enforcement.
City says NO to cooperating with Trump’s deportation agenda
New York City has passed more laws to protect immigrants than any other city. In October 2017, the NYC Council passed a bill prohibiting city agencies from misusing resources to assist with federal immigration enforcement — an extraordinary victory for our immigrant community!
Among other policies we have fought for and won are the creation of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), legislation limiting when the NYPD and Department of Correction will honor a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer, and Department of Education protocols directing public schools to block ICE agents from entering schools without valid warrants.
Victory and millions in back wages for carwash workers
MRNY’s historic work to clean up the notoriously exploitative carwash industry with the Retail Wholesale & Department Store Union and New York Communities for Change has led to groundbreaking improvements in wages, benefits, and working conditions.
Led by MRNY members and workers at 11 union carwashes, we won over $3 million in back wages and penalties, an estimated $2.00 per hour raise across the industry, and innovative licensing legislation.
MRNY community school, a model for NYC
We have been at the forefront of the national movement for community schools, which provide wraparound services for students and their families, enabling students to thrive academically. We are implementing this strategy in four Bushwick high schools that together serve 1,200 students.
Our culturally competent bilingual staff connect families to our legal services, health insurance and food stamps, ESOL programs, and mental health services. As a result of our advocacy, MRNY’s community school served as a model for 200 community schools created in NYC last year.
Government ID cards for all NYC residents
After years of advocacy by MRNY members and allies, NYC became the largest municipality in the country to offer its own ID program in 2015. For undocumented immigrants, a government-issued ID allows them to carry out mundane yet fundamental tasks, from picking up their children at school to opening a bank account.
In another victory, New Yorkers can select the correct gender to be listed on their card: transgender and gender non-conforming individuals no longer have to fear confusion when pulling out an ID card that does not accurately represent them.
We enrolled over 14,000 people in IDNYC in the program’s first year.
Protections against biased policing and harsh discipline
We successfully advocated for the 2011 Student Safety Act and the 2013 Community Safety Act to draw attention to inequities in school discipline and end discriminatory police profiling, as well as the 2016 ban on suspensions of students in kindergarten through 2nd grade.
In 2017, youth, including MRNY members, released a policy brief asking for investments to create safe and supportive educational environments. They presented it to a receptive city council and that same day the DOE announced an $8 Million investment in social, emotional, and mental health support for NYC students including $3 million for restorative practices – a major victory for our students.
Access to healthcare for TGNC New Yorkers
In February 2015, after over a decade of organizing by Make the Road New York and our allies, Medicaid in New York began to cover transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) healthcare. Previously, care available to cisgender (non-trans) people, like hormone treatment, had been denied to TGNC Medicaid patients, even when doctors deemed that care necessary.
Now, when doctors prescribe hormone therapy or approve gender-affirming surgeries, TGNC New Yorkers who use Medicaid will be covered. This victory followed the announcement that private insurance companies in New York cannot refuse gender-related coverage to TGNC patients. Together, these reforms improve access to healthcare and benefit thousands.
Student Success Center creates path to college
Make the Road New York’s Student Success Center is the city’s first youth-designed and youth-led college access program, and an integral part of our Bushwick Campus Community School. MRNY staff and trained youth leaders offer college awareness workshops, trips, and activities, and provide one-on-one and group support for the college application and matriculation process.
As a result, 85% of graduating seniors are accepted to college, a dramatic improvement over the school that previously occupied that building, which had one of the lowest graduation rates in the city. Recognizing the success of our model, New York City has replicated it across the five boroughs. Today, there are 34 schools with Student Success Centers reaching 17,000 students citywide.
Expanded human rights law in Suffolk County
Thanks to the advocacy of MRNY members and allies, Suffolk County amended its human rights law in September 2014 to prevent discrimination by employers, creditors, and landlords. The law expands and adds protections against employment discrimination for domestic workers, transgender people, veterans, domestic violence survivors, pregnant women, and disabled residents. The new law also prohibits discrimination against renters who receive public assistance or other subsidies.
Communities vulnerable to discrimination – like low-income and immigrant New Yorkers – now have new protections against unscrupulous employers, creditors, and landlords.
Paid sick days for 1.5 million NYC workers
For a low-wage worker, taking off even a single day without pay can make the difference between making rent and facing eviction. It can also mean losing a job. Low-wage workers have been fired for taking a sick day — some were even fired for going to the hospital after getting injured on the job.
After tireless advocacy by hundreds of Make the Road New York’s individual and small business members and our allies, on April 1, 2014 New York City became the largest city in the U.S. to enact paid sick days legislation.
Equal language access for all, across New York State
Our work with immigrants revealed that a lack of translation and interpretation services led to unequal access to government services and even healthcare disasters. Our organizers, policy experts and attorneys worked with hundreds of impacted families to gather data and formulate solutions. Together we won— building from the first local victories to system-wide, citywide, and statewide victories.
Translation and interpretation is now mandatory in all welfare centers in NYC (2003); all hospitals in NY State (2006); all NYC government agencies (2008); all chain pharmacies in NYC (2009); all NY State government agencies (2011); all chain pharmacies in NY State (2012); and all Suffolk and Nassau County government offices (2013, 2014).
Protecting workers from wage theft
Make the Road New York led the campaign to win the landmark state-level Wage Theft Prevention Act, which quadrupled penalties for wage theft and created cutting edge protections against retaliations. The measure, which took effect on April 9, 2011, helps to secure the wages of low-income and immigrant workers, who are particularly vulnerable to exploitation by employers.
This is the strongest anti-wage theft legislation in the country, helping to protect all New Yorkers and making New York the national leader in the fight against wage theft.
From our NYC centers in Brooklyn, Queens & Staten Island, we serve immigrants from throughout the 5 boroughs and organize to win policies that benefit millions.
Our fastest growing membership base is leading a highly impactful civic engagement program that is helping to make Long Island more equitable.
Our newest center in Westchester is expanding critical services for the area’s growing and often isolated immigrant community and uniting families across the state to strengthen our ability to win systemic reforms at the state and national levels.
Antonio joined MRNY in 2010, finding a safe space and the encouragement to raise his voice. After working on multiple issues and becoming a recognized leader in MRNY's youth work, he was offered the opportunity to help open Make the Road Nevada. He rose to the challenge and says his experience "made me realized how crucial MRNV was going to be for those families."
We lead the fight for immigrant rights across the country, working as a powerful bloc with our sister organizations: Make the Road New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, as well as our national partner, the Center for Popular Democracy, and their affiliate organizations. We support communities of color across the nation to build the resistance with us.