2014 was a year of momentous change for the immigrant community. President Obama promised to act on the behalf of millions of immigrants in the United States, their advocates, and allies and in November he delivered for some by taking executive action on immigration. But the fight is far from won, both on the Federal level and right here in New York State as well.
At a recent press conference the New York Immigration Coalition unveiled our top three priorities for New York State in 2015. Despite changes in New York State leadership our Agenda remains firm and will move forward with the support of strong allies, elected and otherwise, throughout the State. This year, we’re looking to do the following:
1) Win Equal Access to Education and provide undocumented immigrant students access to state tuition assistance (TAP). We at the NYIC appluad Govenor Cuomo for including the New York State DREAM Act in the state budget – it’s past-time we recognize that these undocumented immigrant students are a key part of our future, and grant them equal access to TAP just like all of New York’s other youth. See our op-ed in Albany Times calling for Govenor Cuomo to act on the DREAM Act here.
2) Address the Needs of Unaccompanied Children. Although the plight of unaccompanied minors has fallen from the national media’s attention, it is still imperative that we continue to address the educational and health needs of unaccompanied minors – and our local communities struggling to meet the needs of these child refugees, particularly in schools. By ensuring that school districts and these children have the resources they need, we can ensure that these children can ultimately strengthen our state and become a bright part of its future.
3) Strengthen Immigration and Integration Services. With President Obama’s announcement of administrative relief, it is essential that New York – with over 250,000 individuals potentially qualifying – ensure that we are ready to respond to President Obama’s announcement and ensure qualifying immigrants have access to these essential services. To do this, New York State must increase funding to the Office of New Americans (ONA) to $30.3 million to enable ONA to continue to provide legal services, ESL classes, and workforce development to our immigrant neighbors, friends, and family, and to combat fraud and protect those who are most vulnerable.
Several other priorities round out our top 10, ranging from drivers’ licenses to farmworkers’ rights to education for immigrant students, and we welcome 2015 as a new year to expand the rights of immigrants and ensure that our newcomers continue to make the Empire State strong.
Reposted from the New York Immigration Coalition website.