Elected Officials, Organizations Voice Support For Immigration Agenda Following Public Advocate’s ‘Day Of Action’ In Washington, D.c.

April 21st, 2023

Press Release

Following a trip by New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams to Washington, D.C. to discuss an agenda of asylum seeker aid and immigration reform with federal agencies and elected officials, advocates and elected officials are voicing their support for urgent action on the issue at the national level to ease transition for people seeking asylum and other immigrants, establish a number of support services, and reform an inhumane and failing system of immigration infrastructure and enforcement, among other proposals. This comes at the end of NYC Immigrant Heritage Week.

“We traveled to the nation’s capital to convey the urgency of action to the federal government, and to collaborate on things we can do right now if we prioritize these needs and have the political will to get it done,” said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams after the trip. “I was happy to find leaders in Washington receptive to and understanding of the urgent need for action to support asylum seekers and improve our immigration infrastructure. I’m encouraged that movement and momentum toward these critical goals will continue beyond our ‘days of action’ as we work on all levels of government to provide the aid and systemic reforms needed for our newest, aspiring, and incoming New Yorkers.”

During the trip, the Public Advocate released a joint statement with Representatives Jamaal Bowman, Yvette Clarke, Daniel Goldman, Grace Meng, and Nydia Velásquez, highlighting the need for legislative and executive action on the federal level. Read their statement here.

A coalition of elected leaders and organizations also joined Public Advocate outside the Capitol for a press conference to reiterate and reinforce the urgency of this agenda. Video of the event is available in full here.

“It’s long overdue that Congress acts in a compassionate, comprehensive and bipartisan fashion to address our broken immigration system,” said House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08). “I supported funding at the conclusion of last year to provide assistance to overwhelmed and under-resourced frontline communities across the country like New York City to help deal with the strain that may exist on local services because of the arrival of migrants. While a comprehensive solution is the only way to ensure that we can adequately address and process individuals seeking asylum in a lawful and humane way, we must provide as much funding as required to address the increased needs of cities like New York to feed, shelter and provide resources to asylum seekers in a manner that is consistent with our history as a nation of immigrants.”

“Our immigration system is in desperate need of repair,“ said Representative Jerrold Nadler, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee. “As Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee last Congress, I was proud to advance legislation to reform our immigration system by establishing real legal pathways for migrants who are fleeing terrible situations or want to be reunited with family. The ability to seek asylum is a bedrock principle protected by federal law. Unfortunately, with Republicans now in control of the House, they have made it clear they will not fix this crisis which is growing by the day. In the face of their inaction, I urge President Biden to redesignate TPS for Venezuela and expand humanitarian parole access for asylum seekers so they can get the work authorizations they desperately need to get on their feet and build their lives in the United States.”

New Yorkers can join our coalition’s ongoing call for action by sending a message to elected officials as part of our Immigrants Rise 2023: NYC to DC effort.

“The #WelcomeWithDignity campaign for asylum rights is proud to stand with New York City’s Office of the Public Advocate and members of Congress to call on the U.S. government to change course in how it treats families seeking safety at the U.S. border with Mexico,” said Bilal Askaryar, Interim Campaign Manager of the #WelcomeWithDignity campaign. “The fact is that we can – and in many cities like NYC – are welcoming people seeking asylum with dignity. Refugee organizations and city governments around the country are stepping up to not only welcome asylum seekers, but also to mitigate the devasting effects of the Biden administration’s border policies. Instead of keeping Trump-era polices on life support, President Biden should demonstrate the humane approach to asylum reception that he espoused on the campaign trail.”

“New York has long been a beacon for immigrants, and we are proud of that history. Just like those who came before them, the families seeking asylum today are fleeing violence and persecution with the hope of a better life in America — and they deserve our support,” said Christine C. Quinn, President & CEO of Win, the largest provider of shelter and supportive services for homeless families with children in the country. “But the harsh reality is non-profits can only do so much. Homeless New Yorkers — whether their family has been in the city for generations or just arrived — need housing. Until asylum seekers can work legally, however, stable housing remains out of reach. That’s why this week we’re taking our advocacy straight to the federal government and urging them to find a solution that helps these families get to work, get out of shelter, and begin establishing their new lives in New York.”

"The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) commends New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams for his pronounced support for asylum seekers. ASAP members - more than half a million asylum seekers living across all 50 states and U.S. territories - have told us time and again that they are eager to work, support their families, and contribute to their communities," said ASAP Co-Executive Director Swapna Reddy. "We need Congress to take action and pass legislation to bring asylum seekers into the workforce. In the meantime, the Biden administration has the ability to expedite work authorization with just a few simple measures - shorten the application form, allow people to apply for work permits sooner, and create more accessible online application processes."

"We thank the Public Advocate for his leadership and his advocacy for the communities BAJI fights for. Black immigrants in the US who have contact with the criminal legal system have a 70% chance of being deported compared to 45% of the immigrant population overall. Black immigrants pay the highest bonds, spend the most time in detention, and are six times more likely to be placed in solitary confinement," said Ronald Claude, Director of Policy and Advocacy, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. "The conditions for Black LGBTQ immigrants is even more dire. At all levels of government, this country must address anti-Black laws that criminalize migrants."

"Immigrants are an integral part of our community; protecting immigrants is protecting our community." Nils Kinuani, CCWM Board Director and Immigration Coordinator.

New York has been the city most impacted by the recent surge of asylum seekers, with more than 50,000 people moving through the city’s intake systems in the last year. Public Advocate Williams and other elected officials representing New York City have long called for both state and federal aid to help support the newest New Yorkers.

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