NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio Launches Nearly $8 Million Assistance Program for Immigrants

Bill de Blasio Immigrant Programs Bebeto MatthewsAP
Bebeto Matthews/AP

Although President Obama’s executive amnesty programs remain held up in the courts, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has launched a nearly $8 million initiative to provide legal assistance to the illegal immigrant community in the city and prepare them for executive amnesty.

“New York City’s commitment to our immigrant communities will not waver. While the courts delay executive action and much-needed relief, while some voices may attempt to create hostility toward immigrants, while more than 30 governors tried to resist the resettlement of Syrian refugees, New York City will demonstrate the power and values of our city.” de Blasio said Monday, announcing the initiative.

Dubbed ActionNYC, the $7.9 million program will create “navigation hubs” in each of the five boroughs for immigrants to receive legal assistance and education about possible immigration benefits available to them.

“ActionNYC will demonstrate that there is another way. We can build the capacity of community-based organizations and legal service providers to ensure that all New Yorkers can come out of the shadows and live their lives freely. This program demonstrates New York City’s commitment to ensuring everyone can live their own American dream,” de Blasio added.

According to the Mayor’s Office, there are more than half a million illegal immigrants in New York City and another 700,000 legal immigrants in the city who are eligible to become U.S. citizens.

The program is slated to start in the spring of 2016 and will be administered by Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, in collaboration with the Human Resources Administration and the Research Foundation of the City University of New York. The initiative will provide contracts to “community-based organizations” and legal services to implement the program.

“Today many New Yorkers qualify for permanent immigration relief and do not know it. ActionNYC will reach New Yorkers in the languages they speak and in the neighborhoods in which they live. Community-based organizations will be a critical factor in ActionNYC’s success, as they are the places trusted by immigrants, and they provide a host of related services that immigrants need,” Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, said in a statement.

The program will also utilize “navigators,” who will receive “specialized training” to assist immigrants with non-legal work

In a statement, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) chastised Republicans for failing to move forward on immigration reform and praised the new program.

“While Republicans in Congress continue to twiddle their thumbs on immigration reform, it’s exciting to see local municipalities like New York City take the initiative and invest in programs geared toward helping the immigrant community. ACTIONNYC will provide $7.9 million for community navigation hubs that will help bring vital services and legal expertise to the more than 1.2 million people living in New York City who are either undocumented or eligible for citizenship,” he said.