Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito, Commissioner Agarwal Kick-Off 14th Annual Immigrants Heritage Week

April 17, 2017

Launch of Immigrant Resource Guide to serve as roadmap for new New Yorkers

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal today kicked off the City’s annual celebration of NYC’s immigrant communities with Immigrant Heritage Week 2017. The citywide celebration, which runs from April 17-23, features a rich collection of over 60 events and programs across the five boroughs. The theme for 2017, “Immigrants are New York: Upholding our Values,” showcases how New York City values are informed by the contributions, successes and struggles of NYC’s myriad and vibrant immigrant communities yesterday and today, and how essential it is to preserve those values in today’s immigration climate.

“New York is a city of immigrants, and Immigrant Heritage Week is a celebration of our values. We will continue to stand strong as an open and welcoming city, and this week’s civic and cultural events are a demonstration of that fact. In response to growing vitriolic attacks on the character of our immigrant communities, we are doubling down in our commitment to the people that help make New York the greatest city in the world,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“The City Council is thrilled to help host New York City's 14th Annual Immigrant Heritage Week,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “At a time when immigrant communities are under attack, it is more important than ever to stand united and celebrate the contributions and importance of the immigrant identity in the United States. I'm proud to work with Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Agarwal to honor the struggles, accomplishments, and contributions of immigrants in New York City and across the country.”

"Immigrant Heritage Week is a time to honor and celebrate the contributions of generations of immigrant New Yorkers -- including my own parents and grandparents -- contributions which have given this City its incredible strength and character. This year, in the face of new challenges that seek to tarnish our legacy as a beacon of hope for all those in search of a better future, we will put our New York Values on display for the nation and world to see: Our diversity, our resiliency, and our pride in our history will always make New York City the best city in the world," said Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives

“This year’s Immigrant Heritage Week is a time where we can all come together to cherish and share our immigrant stories,” said Commissioner Nisha Agarwal of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “So many of us can trace our roots to a different town, city, or place but we’re all united by our common identity as New Yorkers. This celebration of our civic pride, cultural production and vibrant communities is our opportunity to come together and remember our shared histories at a moment when immigrants nationwide are under extreme scrutiny.”

Immigrant Heritage Week 2017 will include over 60 community events across the five boroughs, ranging from events offering practical information to immigrant New Yorkers about their rights to cultural celebrations across the city. The annual week of celebration was established in 2004 to honor the experiences and contributions of immigrants in New York City, the ultimate city of immigrants. Every year, Immigrant Heritage Week runs from April 17–23, marking the day in 1907 when more immigrants entered through Ellis Island than any other date in the city's history.
This year’s hallmark events include:

International Mother Language CelebrationTuesday, April 18: Join the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs for a gathering and series of short performances by groups representing a cross-section of Queens’ linguistic diversity in an evening honoring the many languages that call the borough home.

IDNYC on the Go!Wednesday, April 19: IDNYC on the Go! will be going to Jackson Heights’ Diversity Plaza, where local stakeholders will join Commissioner Nisha Agarwal of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and residents to celebrate the diversity of New York City’s immigrant communities. This event is part of a series of IDNYC pop-up enrollment centers throughout the City during Immigrant Heritage Week.

Telling Immigrant Stories Through TheatreSaturday, April 22: City and Theatre leaders will engage in panel a discussion on how art, and specifically theatre, can be an inclusive venue for immigrant storytelling.

As part of Immigrant Heritage Week, the City is rolling out a second edition of our resource and referral guide to serve as a roadmap to City services for new New Yorkers, introducing them to programs and resources like IDNYC, education, health care, and public safety. The updated guide will include additional information on a variety of topics, including health care options, financial empowerment and small business services. The new resource guide will be available in a variety of languages, but will be immediately available in English.
Press can RSVP to the featured events here.

Immigrant Heritage Week’s events and announcements complement existing programs and supports offered by the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs that serve all immigrants, regardless of immigration status. In the last year, the de Blasio Administration has taken a variety of steps to protect immigrant communities, as well as to ensure that they know their rights at a time of increased fear surrounding national immigration policy and enforcement. In addition to hosting Know Your Rights forums across the five boroughs, the City has updated and reaffirmed its privacy protocols on schools and public health care facilities. NYC Health + Hospitals recently rolled out a series of immigrant health care rights forums to provide information to immigrant New Yorkers about their right to medical care, regardless of immigration status or ability to pay. DOE announced expanded immigration guidance, including a detailed protocol for responding to law enforcement requests from federal agencies, and supports for the city’s public schools and public school families. IDNYC—the official New York City identification card—recently reached over 1,030,000 cardholders, improving access to City services for countless New Yorkers. The City’s legal services initiative ActionNYC continues to provide free, high-quality legal assistance to immigrant New Yorkers.

“Immigration plays a fundamental role in the culture and vibrancy of New York. That is why we were so excited when New Yorkers chose Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah as the book they wanted to read together in the One Book/One New York program. The book’s central themes of immigration, identity and race have never been more timely, and Adichie bears powerful witness to the immigrant experience in America helping to spark this important conversation,” said Commissioner Julie Menin of the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment.

“New York is the greatest city of immigrants in the world, and we should take every opportunity we get to proudly celebrate that,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “For this year’s Immigrant Heritage Week, I’m proud to be hosting a public workshop on April 19 with the city’s Department of Records on how to use the city’s archives to learn and tell your family’s story.”

“The character of the great Borough of Queens has always been shaped by the tremendous economic, social, cultural and civic contributions from immigrants hailing from all over the world,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “Queens is committed to enhancing access to services that are available to all New Yorkers and their families. Everyone is encouraged to utilize resources listed in the Immigrant Resource Guide and other offerings of Immigrant Heritage Week 2017.”

"Immigrant heritage is the heritage of Brooklyn, the heritage of New York City, the heritage of America. Now is the right time to be upholding and uplifting the values that make us great, which are reflected in the prosperity our communities derive every day from their rich diversity. 47 percent of Brooklynites speak a language other than English at home, and I am committed to ensuring they enjoy the same access to resources and opportunities in our borough that every resident of this city receives," ‎said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams.

“Initiatives like Immigrant Heritage Week reaffirm New York City’s commitment to our values,” said Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “As the son and grandson of immigrants, I have a deep appreciation of the bravery it takes to leave behind everything you know in search of a better life in a foreign land. I commend the City for making these resources available to immigrant New Yorkers and as the representative of one of the most diverse districts in the country, I’m proud to take time each year to celebrate their contributions.”‎

State Senator Jose Peralta said, “Clearly, there would be no New York, at least not the New York we all know and love, without immigrants. It is particularly troubling to see all these recent virulent attacks on our vibrant immigrant communities, so celebrating events like the ones that are part of Immigrant Heritage Week are a great reminder of how grateful we all are to immigrants, and the sacrifices they made to protect and build this city. New York was, is and will always be a city of immigrants. I applaud all those involved in organizing another edition of the annual Immigrant Heritage Week, and it is my hope that New Yorkers come together and take part in the various programs put together for the occasion.”

“For generations, New York City has been a symbol of hope for the millions of individuals from around the world who arrived to its shores seeking a better life for themselves and their families,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “This Immigrant Heritage Week will allow us to not only celebrate the countless contributions of our City's immigrant communities, but more importantly, it will give us the opportunity to recommit ourselves to defending the values of inclusivity, tolerance and diversity our City has always championed.”

“Immigrant Heritage Week is a time for New Yorkers to celebrate and be proud of the many diverse cultures, in our city,” said Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte, the daughter of Haitian immigrants. “The vast array of cultures and backgrounds, rich traditions and histories culminate in the beautiful diversity that makes our city one of the greatest cities in the world. This is a week that should be celebrated by everyone, especially during this time where our communities have been under attack and when we are facing threats federally. I am glad to see that the City has created a week for us to join together to share our stories and honor the many languages that we, as New Yorkers, speak. We are greater together.”

“I look forward to this week's events in the Bronx and across the rest of the city in celebration of our rich and diverse population of people either recently arrived from, or whose roots span, across the globe. I know how much that holds true in my own assembly district, where to walk the streets is to encounter the world. These immigrants, with their own rich culture and contributions, help make this already great city truly a world city,” said Assembly Member Luis Sepulveda.

“At a time when national policies threaten immigrants, we are upholding the values that make our City great. This year's Immigrant Heritage Week is a time to support immigrants with Know Your Right's events and pop-up IDNYC enrollment sites. It's also an opportunity to celebrate our diversity and highlight the contributions immigrants make to New York's culture and economy,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Committee on Immigration.

"Immigrant Heritage Week is an opportunity for New York City to celebrate the rich contributions of our immigrant communities," said NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm. "This week we reaffirm our commitment to protect and welcome immigrants from all over the world. I am delighted to host the IDNYC mobile unit at Diversity Plaza. I thank Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito and Commissioner Agarwal for not only making Immigrant Heritage Week a time to celebrate but an opportunity to bring resources and information to immigrants."

“New York City’s immigrant community is a crucial part of our economy and our culture. We celebrate and protect everyone regardless of their immigration status and have put laws into place reflecting this promise. As a sanctuary city with a plan, NYC has made major commitments to our immigrant population through growing adult literacy programs, expanding legal services, and increasing access to comprehensive health services. In the face of challenges from the Federal government, Immigrant Heritage Week further demonstrates our fearlessness and support for all our foreign born New Yorkers,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.

“‘The Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art’ continues to present the art and culture of Tibet and the Himalayas to a world audience. It is our pleasure to share our collection of objects from India, Tibet and Nepal and to feature works by Tibetan artists with the public,” said Meg Ventrudo, Executive Director.

“In honor of Immigrant Heritage Week, Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) is thrilled to offer free admission all day on Thursday, April 20th,” said MOCA President Nancy Yao Maasbach. “As a proud member of the IDNYC program, MOCA recognizes and welcomes the rich diversity of immigrants’ contributions and values to this nation.”

“The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene at the Museum of Jewish Heritage is proud to celebrate Immigration Heritage Week even as we remember the results of intolerance with a memorial marking the 74th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. We are all immigrants and it is our humanitarian duty to make America a safe place for all,” said Motl Didner, Associate Artistic Director - National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene.

“Just as much as NYC is a global financial center, it is also a city of small businesses and immigrants. The neighborhoods and the cultural landscape here are inextricably shaped and driven by small enterprises and the unparalleled diversity,” said John Wang, organizer of the Queens International Night Market. “The popularity of the Night Market, which has featured vendors representing over 60 countries in the last two years, is a real testament to the value of immigrants and diversity.”

“As we lead into Immigrant Heritage Week, Teatro Circulo is proud to partner with the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, showcasing the great work of our immigrant communities across the City,” said Founding and Artistic Director of Teatro Circulo, Jose Oliveras. “Using comedy as a frame, ‘Secretos Prohibidos’ explores themes of social inequality, hitting so close to home during this time in our country's history.  Teatro Circulo provides a platform for new and emerging artists from all walks of life and from all parts of the world in our shared vision of presenting the best works of Spanish and Pan Latino playwrights, both contemporary and classical and to foster an appreciation of the richness of Latin American and Iberian cultures in the context of the pluralism that characterizes New York City.”

“We are so honored to be participating in Immigrant Heritage Week and to be producing two plays from Mfoniso Udofia's Ufot Family Cycle on our stage this spring. Chronicling the layered, personal story of four generations of Nigerian immigrants, these plays speak volumes about how we define home, culture and belonging. The conversations provoked by powerful and truthful art have the power to alter our perspectives and open our eyes to the diversity and culture that are ever-present in New York City,” said James C. Nicola, Artistic Director of New York Theatre Workshop.

“The Sugar Hill Children's Museum is honored to be a part of this important initiative celebrating the diversity and richness of our community--values embedded in our mission to actively cultivate cross-cultural understanding and empathy. We invite families and children to join us all week for FREE to explore our guiding question: ‘What does it mean to be a global citizen?’” said Jennifer Ifil-Ryan, Associate Director of Education and Community Engagement, Sugar Hill Children's Museum.

“It’s now more critical than ever that New York City stand up for and celebrate our immigrant communities. That's why we're proud to partner again with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) for Immigrant Heritage Week, to offer a Know Your Rights Telethon, which will help safely answer immigration questions and direct callers to free legal services. This is our New York: one that educates, fights, and celebrates, said Executive Director Steven Choi of NYIC‎.”

“Many of those affected by the emergencies we have experienced in NYC so far this year are immigrants,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito. “We want all New Yorkers to know that they shouldn’t be afraid to seek services before, during, or after emergencies – the City is here to help.”

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