NEW YORK — A few dozen immigrant advocates gathered at the steps of New York City Hall to send Mayor Bill de Blasio a clear message: the city must not forget about its vulnerable immigrant communities.
Protesters say the mayor’s proposed city budget underfunds adult education programs, eliminates due process from immigration legal services, and fails to allocate resources to underserved immigrant communities.
New York City has 3.3 million immigrants, who contribute $8 billion in taxes and make up the city’s unique cultural and social fabric.
“With the looming threats of federal administration and the unpredictable outcome of policies that harm immigrant community, we stand here today to ask the mayor to lead new york as an example across the nation to continue to support and protect immigrant families as a sanctuary city,” said Persephone Tan.
Their demands: restore funding to adult literacy, so more immigrants can learn English, as well as remove the limitation on funding for much needed legal services.
Especially now, they say, when immigrants are under attack from the Trump administration – where more immigrant children are separated from their families.
“That’s exactly the problem, if you can’t pay for a lawyer, then in immigration court, there is no one there to represent you, in New York, they have been providing free lawyers as a part of a new program and now the mayor is pulling back from that commitment,” said Sean Lai McMahon.
New York Immigration Coalition’s Camille Mackler says, providing an immigration lawyer especially to those immigrants who can’t afford it, is now more important than ever.
“This system is impossible to navigate on your own, even most lawyers don’t want to do immigration law, that’s how complicated immigration law is, so right now to ask people to defend themselves in this current climate in this administration without a lawyer is shocking.”
Protesters say, “the time is now for Mayor de Blasio to protect and invest in the fight for immigrant rights.
BA has requested the Mayor’s office for comments but so far, no reply.