[lg policy] Queens: City releases first-ever report on inclusion

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Thu May 24 10:58:37 EDT 2018

 City releases first-ever report on inclusion
By Prem Calvin Prashad
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The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs released its first ever annual
report in March detailing efforts in 2017 to in the report’s words
integrate immigrant New Yorkers into the city’s “civic, economic and
cultural life.”

Some 3.1 million New Yorkers are immigrants, of whom approximately 560,000
are undocumented, according to the office. Most notably, the office
estimates one million immigrant New Yorkers are in “mixed-status”
households, where someone in the family is undocumented.

Under the de Blasio administration, the office has identified three
priorities – the integration of immigrants, facilitating access to justice
and advocating reform to address inequities.
[image: Sacred Heart Catholic Academy]

Among the other notable demographic findings, the report said over half of
all New Yorkers – regardless of immigration status are “rent-burdened”
(spending 30 percent of their income or more on rent). Prevalence of
household overcrowding (more than 1.5 persons per room) was significantly
higher for green card holders and undocumented persons alike. Immigrants
now comprise 45 percent of New York City’s workforce, 25 percent of whom
work in Health, Education or Human Services. More than half - 52 percent of
businesses in the city - are owned by immigrants.

Efforts at language inclusion are a longstanding policy item at City Hall,
spanning administrations. After the implementation of full translation of
six key languages under the Bloomberg administration, subsequent efforts at
language inclusion have tried to bridge gaps and adapt to changing
circumstances. The 2017 Local Law 30 added Arabic, Urdu, Polish and French
to the list of required languages. In response to current events, such as
the recent cancellation of TPS for Nepali immigrants, has spurred the
office to adopt Nepali translation of its materials. The report itself will
be translated into 10 languages, mandated by Local Law 30, which covers 86
percent of limited English proficiency residents, according to the office.

Specifically, the office runs the We Are New York English language learning
program, which in 2017 organized 182 classes and produced a series of
educational videos to cover critical issues such as mental health and
worker’s rights, while also building proficiency. The office has
coordinated town halls and Know Your Rights forums to engage communities in
the city, having provided 740 such forums in 2017.

Of more recent policy moves, the report touted the office’s partnership
with Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, the Mayor’s Office of
Criminal Justice and law enforcement to support immigrant victims of crime,
including securing U and T visas, which provide relief for victims of
trafficking and for victims that have suffered substantial mental and
physical abuse, respectively. City agencies provided 709 certifications
from law enforcement for individuals applying for these protections.
Another partnership, Action NYC, which provides legal services for
immigration issues, provided 8,004 legal screenings, last year.

Lastly, the report noted that in response to the federal government’s focus
on immigration enforcement, the city has enhanced its partnerships with
other municipalities where immigrants live. The Cities for Action advocates
for federal policies, such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
and also files amicus briefs challenging Trump administration actions in
court. According to the office, there are approximately 150,000
DACA-eligible persons living in the city.

The report also cites federal efforts to “defund jurisdictions which limit
cooperation with federal immigration enforcement” as another reason for
this inter-city cooperation. Arguably federal immigration policy has
repositioned municipalities, especially large cities in an adversarial
relationship with the federal government, with cities turned into the key
defender against the federal government. This is reflected at the end of
the report, which concluded with the office’s priorities for the current
year. Aside from continuing civic engagement and utilizing evaluation to
study current efforts, the office plans to advocate for the city’s
interests at the national level, though its partnerships.


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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