Press Release

City Kicks-off 15th Annual Immigrant Heritage Week

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 16, 2018
CONTACT: mediabox@moia.nyc.gov, (212) 676-3013

Ultimate City of Immigrants celebrates diverse heritage with over 50 events across five boroughs

Press can RSVP to the featured events here

NEW YORK—Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Acting Commissioner Bitta Mostofi kicked-off Immigrant Heritage Week 2018, the fifteenth annual celebration of New York City’s immigrant communities and our shared immigrant heritage. From April 16 to April 22, the City and community partners across the five boroughs will host more than 50 events and programs honoring our city’s rich immigrant heritage and celebrating the fact that New York City is home to more immigrant residents today than in over a century.

Every year, Immigrant Heritage week launches in mid-April, marking the day in 1907 when more immigrants entered through Ellis Island than any other date in the city’s history. This year’s theme, “A City of Immigrants: United in Action,” recognizes New Yorkers’ common values and immigrant history keep the city together working towards further progress no matter what challenges we face. Our city’s diversity is a source of strength, contributes to our economic and cultural successes, and helps us be the nation’s safest big city.

“New York City is a shining beacon by the sea, a global city that welcomes in the world with open arms,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The Statue of Liberty is synonymous with NYC, but during Immigrant Heritage Week, we remember what Ellis Island represents for my forefathers and foremothers and how crucial immigrants are to making our city great. On our 15th annual celebration, we remember the journey our families and communities have taken and welcome newcomers to this amazing city.”

“Immigrant Heritage Week is a great opportunity for New York City parents and children alike to immerse ourselves in the many immigrant communities that make our city so unique,” said Deputy Mayor J. Phillip Thompson. “With family-friendly cultural events available across the five boroughs this week, NYC families can learn more about our history and recharge as we recommit ourselves to opening up opportunity for all New Yorkers.”

“During Immigrant Heritage Week, New Yorkers honor the immigrant history that makes our city a global landmark, as well as the activist spirit that pushes us to ensure we are an open and welcoming city in the future,” said Bitta Mostofi, Acting Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “This year, I’m proud to work with Chinese, Garifuna, and Liberian New Yorkers, along with many more partners at dozens of events across the city. Our city is home to the highest number of immigrant New Yorkers in over a century, and this week we uplift and demonstrate appreciation for our immigrant brothers and sisters who make New York City great.”

“People from over 150 countries call New York home, nearly 40 percent of the City population,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “The strength of this City is firmly rooted in its diversity. This week we celebrate the many contributions of New York's immigrant community and the Department of Social Services is honored to be on the front lines every day providing services to immigrant New Yorkers.”

“One of the reasons I am so glad to be back in New York is because of the city’s amazing diversity, made possible by the many wonderful waves of immigrants who have helped make the Big Apple what it is today,” said Mitchell Katz, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals. “To mark Immigrant Heritage Week, I am pleased to connect my name to our health system’s commitment, and the commitment of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, to reassure immigrant New Yorkers that we honor and respect them. And we want to be the health care provider of choice for all our immigrants, whether they be first generation, tenth generation, or anything in between.”

“New York City has and will always be a place that celebrates, supports, and protects its diverse immigrant communities and a place where immigrants and their families can thrive and flourish,” said Carmelyn P. Malalis, Commissioner and Chair of the NYC Commission on Human Rights. “Here, everyone has the right to live and work free from discrimination regardless of where you came from, what language you speak, or your immigration status. The NYC Commission on Human Rights fights for the right of all New Yorkers and encourages anyone who has been the victim of discrimination or harassment to report it by calling 718-722-3131. We will never ask your immigration status and reports can be filed anonymously.”

“New York City has always stood with immigrant New Yorkers and we pride ourselves in continuing to do so,” said NYC Consumer Affairs Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “Our agency is committed to enhancing the lives of all New Yorkers regardless of their national origin, race, gender, or immigration status. As an immigrant myself, I am especially proud to celebrate the many cultures and backgrounds that make New York the melting pot of the world during Immigrant Heritage Week. I encourage all New Yorkers to join us this week at our Immigrant Workers Assembly on Staten Island and other community events to learn about important workplace protections, immigrant resources, and more.”

“NYC’s cultural life thrives in large part because of the tremendous creative contributions of our diverse immigrant communities. Our agency is committed to ongoing and active support for New Yorkers who hail from all over the globe, be they artists, cultural workers, or audience members,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “Immigrant Heritage Week is a wonderful opportunity to highlight how international communities are already enriching the cultural fabric of the city, and to affirm our enthusiastic welcome to residents of all nationalities through programs such as IDNYC.”

“New York is a city of immigrants which is always growing and changing,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito. “Immigrant Heritage Week highlights the rich diversity that makes our City so great, and this diversity is a source of strength and resiliency when emergencies happen."

A full list of Immigrant Heritage Week programs and events is available at nyc.gov/IHW2018. The annual week of celebration was established in 2004 to honor the experiences and contributions of immigrants in New York City. Immigrant Heritage Week 2018 includes over 50 community events across all five boroughs, ranging from cultural celebrations to events offering practical information to immigrant New Yorkers about their rights.

This year’s hallmark events include:

Throughout the week – IDNYC on the Go! at Moore Homestead Playground: During IHW, in partnership with Council Member Daniel Dromm, New Yorkers will be able to sign up for IDNYC at Moore Homestead Playground in the City’s IDNYC mobile command center. IDNYC on the Go! will be onsite to enroll residents into the City's municipal identification program, offering a multitude of benefits, including free 1-year memberships to over 40 cultural institutions as well as entertainment discounts across the City.

Location: Moore Homestead Playground, 80-02 Broadway, Flushing, NY 11373 (between 82nd Street and 45th Avenue).
Date and time: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Wednesday, April 18 – “Refugee Youth, Civic Integration & Empowerment: Documentary Screening and Panel Discussion” - In partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Catholic Charities, International Rescue Committee, NYU Law Students for Human Rights, and NYU Global Justice Clinic, New Yorkers will be able to attend a documentary film screening and panel discussion led by filmmaker George Tarr as he shares his compelling journey from Liberia to New York as a young refugee in “Out of the Fire.” The panel, joined by Kavita Pawria-Sanchez, MOIA’s Assistant Commissioner, will explore themes of civic and economic integration, youth empowerment, and linguistic acquisition.

Location: NYU School of Law, 40 Washington Square S, Vanderbilt Hall (Room 220) New York, NY 10012.
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 PM.

Friday, April 20 – “Day of Action against Discrimination” – The NYC Commission on Human Rights, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, will hold a Day of Action in each of the five boroughs to inform New Yorkers of their rights against discrimination and harassment with focus on immigration status and national origin protections, and encourage people to report incidents to the Commission. The Commission is also hosting legal clinics in every borough where New Yorkers can report discrimination and start the complaint filing process.

Legal Clinic locations: (Manhattan) African Services Committee, 429 West 127th Street New York, NY 10027 (Manhattan) The Senegalese Association of America, 121 St. Nicholas Avenue #5 New York, NY 10026 (Brooklyn) Council of People Organization, 1077 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11230 (Queens) Queens Library at Corona, 38-23 104th St, Corona, NY 11368 (Staten Island) Canvas Institute for Arts, Culture, and Civic Engagement, 150 Victory Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10301
Time: 1:00 – 4:00 PM.

Saturday, April 21 – Immigrant Resource Fair – The Chineseā€American Planning Council (CPC) and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs will be holding an Immigrant Resource Fair. Community members will be able to learn more about City resources addressing issues including housing, immigration legal services, access to health care, education, human rights, and more.

Location: CPC Queens Community Center, 133-14 41st Ave, Flushing, NY 11355.
Time: 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM.

Saturday, April 21 – “Encuentro Garifuna y Centro Americano” – The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs is partnering with Garifuna and Central American communities to jointly present “Encuentro Garifuna y Centro Americano.” This town hall is an opportunity for the City to listen to these communities and be responsive to their needs. It also aims to be inclusive while shining an exclusive spotlight on the issues and cultural traditions of the Garifuna and Central American communities.

Location: NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln, 234 East 149th Street, Auditorium, Bronx, NY 10451.
Time: 5:00 – 9:30 PM.

Press can RSVP to the featured events here.

The City and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs are committed to promoting the health and well-being of immigrant New Yorkers every day of the year. This month, the City launched a new multilingual promotional campaign encouraging New Yorkers to sign-up for IDNYC, New York City’s municipal identification card with over 1.2 million cardholders. With ads in the subway, the Staten Island Ferry, in storefronts, newspapers, radio, and social media, the City wants New Yorkers to know how easy it is to sign-up for IDNYC and how many exciting opportunities the card unlocks. Recently, the City also announced the NYC Immigration Information Desk, in-person resource hubs for immigrant New Yorkers to access City services and receive referrals available in Flushing, Coney Island, and East Harlem. In March, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs further expanded ActionNYC in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens, bringing free and safe immigration legal services deeper into immigrant communities. The Administration is committed to keeping our city safe and families together. The City stands with immigrant communities and recognizes that they are central to the growth and future of New York City.

To mark Immigrant Heritage Week, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and NYC Health + Hospitals will join together to reissue a message first published in December 2016, encouraging New Yorkers to seek care without fear of having their immigration status disclosed. Written in 14 languages, the reissued “open letter” reflects an ongoing commitment to serve all New Yorkers, without exception, and regardless of immigration status.

“With the President continuing to attack immigrant communities, it is critical that immigrant New Yorkers have access to the information and resources that they require; resources such as housing, health care, education, legal assistance and other types of important services that are offered by our city,” said U.S. Representative Grace Meng. “As we commemorate Immigrant Heritage Week, I am pleased to join the Chinese-American Planning Council and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs in providing this valuable information to immigrants in Queens, and I’m proud to join them in standing with New York’s immigrant families.”

“As a second-generation American, Immigrant Heritage Week holds a special place in my heart,” said U.S. Representative Joe Crowley, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “One of our city’s defining characteristics is how the immigrant experience shaped New York and the fact that millions of families have chosen our communities as their home. I strongly encourage my constituents to take a moment to participate in this week’s events and celebrate how diversity has shaped our neighborhoods for best.”

“Immigrants have contributed greatly to our borough’s renaissance, and I am delighted to celebrate our city’s ever changing rainbow of culture and diversity as we commemorate Immigrant Heritage Week 2018, ‘A City of Immigrants: United in Action,’” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “New York City is place that has always thrived thanks to the immigrant experience and the contributions of immigrants to all five boroughs. We are a city of immigrants where we all come together as one, to celebrate our collective experiences as New Yorkers.”

“In Brooklyn, our diversity is our strength. 47 percent of Brooklynites speak a language other than English at home, and we’re proud of that. Immigrant Heritage Week is a golden opportunity to enjoy rich cultural experiences across the five boroughs while renewing our commitment to ably serve all of the communities that make up New York City,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

“Immigrants have made New York City great for centuries,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “So it’s entirely fitting that we spend an entire week honoring that tradition and celebrating those from other nations who have come here to make a better life for themselves, their families, and our city.”

“I am proud to represent diverse communities of new Americans who call the Bronx home,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “Immigrant Heritage Week is a beautiful celebration of what makes this city and this country great. I will continue to be united in action with those who support immigrants and refugees.”

“There is no denying the importance and impact that immigrants have on our State and our cities. The most U.S. Census data tells us that statewide, New York has an estimate of 4,442,247 persons who are foreign born out of a population of over 19 million, representing 22.6% of the state’s estimated population. Of that 4,442,247 foreign born population, 2,421,850 are estimated to be naturalized U.S. citizens and 2,020,397 persons are estimated as legal U.S. residents. Immigrants, their hard work and contributions to our society are the heritage of our State and nation,” said Assembly Member Marcos Crespo, Chair of the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force.

“The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs provides valuable resources, workshops, and programs for all New Yorkers. I am happy to support MOIA’s work in coordinating Immigrant Heritage Week, which serves to remind us of the diverse stories, historic contributions, and urgent needs of immigrant communities in New York and across the country,” said Assembly Member Nily Rozic.

 “In the midst of Immigrant Heritage Week, I am proud to join the Chinese-American Planning Council, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, and my fellow elected officials in sponsoring this Immigrant Resources Fair. In the current national climate, there has been widespread anxiety and fear among many communities about the reach and impact of certain policies and agencies relating to immigration. Even as we celebrate the history and contributions of our country’s countless immigrants, it is vital that New Yorkers concerned about access to government resources or legal services, especially in relation to their immigration status, have an opportunity to attend this event,” said Assembly Member Ron Kim. “My colleagues and I are truly thankful to the staff of both CPC and City agencies for their hard work in organizing and hosting the event, and hope that it will make a real difference in terms of protecting New York’s vulnerable communities.”

“At this time in our nation's history when the word ‘immigrant’ seems to have become a racial slur by the President of the United States, it is even more important that we all stand up and be counted by recognizing and supporting the contributions to our city and nation of those who have come from other lands and continue to seek the promise of the American Dream for themselves and their children. I would also note, that unless you are a Native Americans, we are all immigrants,” said Assembly Member Luis Sepulveda.

“More immigrants call New York City home today than at any time in the last century. Immigrants sustain our communities, and propel our economy. Our shared obligation to protect immigrants’ civil and human rights is also at an all-time high. Immigrant Heritage Week is an opportunity for all New Yorkers to celebrate, learn about, and take action to support our immigrant neighbors,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Committee on Immigration.

“New York City is one of the most exhilarating places on Earth thanks to our immigrant families,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “I am happy to join the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs in celebrating Immigrant Heritage Week 2018, a time to recognize the many contributions immigrants have made to our city. This week of film screenings, book presentations, performances, and other events is an exciting and fitting way of observing IHW. As a Council Member representing one of the largest and most diverse immigrant communities in the nation, I will continue to advocate for the well-being of our newest New Yorkers who have given so much to our society.”

“Diversity is one of New York City’s greatest assets. Embracing each other’s rich cultures, traditions, and histories makes our city a vibrant and remarkable place to live. I’m proud to celebrate our immigrant New Yorkers during this week of recognition and express my continued commitment to them and ensuring access to programs and services,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr.

“New York City was built on the strength and determination of our immigrant communities, and Immigrant Heritage Week is an important time for us to celebrate the diversity in which we live,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene. “This week, we will come together in appreciation for the many cultures that make our city so unique, while honoring those who came through Ellis Island and paved the way for future generations. We are better as a society because of the contributions of our immigrant communities, and we will continue to support their success in any way we can.”      

“For hundreds of years, immigrants from all over the world have made New York City their adopted home. Immigrant Heritage Week is an important opportunity for New Yorkers everywhere to celebrate their own communities while learning about the heritage of their neighbors and friends,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson. “Now more than ever, it is imperative we recognize the contributions of immigrant communities and celebrate the strength in our diversity. I am proud to join Mayor de Blasio and Acting MOIA Commissioner Bitta Mostofi in celebrating New York’s 15th annual Immigrant Heritage Week and in honoring our city’s rich immigrant history.”

 “As the proud son of immigrants myself, whose family built a life in Queens and realized much of the American Dream, it’s a privilege to celebrate this year’s Immigrant Heritage Week. I am honored to represent one of the most diverse districts in the city, where immigrants from around the world and Americans from every stripe call home,” said Council Member Francisco Moya

“Immigrant Heritage Week is an excellent opportunity for our newest New Yorkers to learn about the wide variety of assistance available to them courtesy of the City of New York and the immigrant support groups that reside here,” said Council Member Peter Koo. “Many new immigrants are unaware that we have programs, services, and professionals waiting to lend them a hand and help get them adjusted to life in a new world. Thank you to the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and all our partners for coming together to make sure our immigrant community has access to the information and resources they need to succeed.”

“Immigrants built New York City and their contributions make our city great. Their cultures, histories, and accomplishments deserve to be celebrated, especially as the federal government continues to engage in xenophobic practices,” said Council Member Diana Ayala. “I thank the de Blasio administration for their commitment to uplift immigrant communities when needed most.”

“We need more platforms to freely celebrate our heritage and culture without feeling threatened or isolated, such as Immigrant Heritage Week. More than ever, it is essential to be united in order to create awareness of the benefits of migration, diversity, and inclusion,” said Diego Gomez Pickering, Consul General of Mexico in New York. “Immigrant communities lead to a shared prosperity, which begin with the acknowledgment of other cultures, and the understanding of their contributions to the social fabric.”

“In this year’s Immigrant Heritage Week, the Consulate General of Algeria in New York is very honored and pleased to take part in this laudable event through its annual celebration of Algeria’s Youm El Ilm ‘Knowledge Day’ on April 16th which marks the Algerian emblematic figure passing, Abdelhamid Ben Badis. This Day reveals the role of learning as a source of light that illuminates the minds,” said Sabria Boukadoum, Consul General of Algeria in New York. “It aims to share Ben Badis’s morals, which were based on expanding education and knowledge among Algerians and women in particular. On this occasion, the Consulate General jointly with the Algerian American Scientists Association, is organizing on April 21, 2018 the third edition of Youm El Ilm Science Fair Competition where students participating with the best science, art, poetry or music projects will be awarded. As the Algerian proverb says: ‘Seek knowledge from cradle to grave,’ our objective is to spread among our youngsters, a more authentic rendition of Islam as well as cultural values that praise the acquisition of knowledge as an enlightening way of living together in peace.”

“We are so thrilled to be able to partner with MOIA on this exciting new project and to premiere the play “Somos NYC” as part of Immigrant Heritage Week! The 11 young immigrants who we brought together to develop and perform this piece were passionate, eager and ready to take on the task of sharing their stories while also educating our fellow immigrant New Yorkers on some of the great resources our city has in place for us,” said Mino Lora, Executive Director of People’s Theatre Project. “We can’t wait to take this out into our communities!”

“As we at the Bangladesh Institute of Performing Arts look back at the last 25 years of the work that we’ve done in promoting Bengali arts & culture, we are so grateful to municipal organizations like the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs for providing services to our city’s immigrant communities. It is important to have dialogues both across and within boundaries, but equally important to feel that our voices and contributions to this city matter,” said Nadia Ahmad, Board Member, Bangladesh Institute of Performing Arts (BIPA). “Immigrant Heritage Week programs help us speak to one another, and they help us hear one another.”

“We are so happy to be included in this year’s Immigrant Heritage Week, as we celebrate our 56th anniversary. I am proud to be an immigrant continuing to give this country sustainability, as have previous immigrants before me,” said Dr. Marilu D. Galvan, 
Executive Director of Centro Cívico Cultural Dominicano. 

“Like our nation, New York was built by immigrants. As New Yorkers, we are proud of our immigrant heritage and the exceptional contribution of those who came to our city to make it diverse, vibrant, unique, and unparalleled,” said Favio Ramirez-Canminatti, Executive Director of El Centro del Inmigrante. “We are proud to partner with the City of New York to celebrate the heterogeneity of Immigrant Heritage Week.”

“Coney Island has a rich and diverse heritage of immigrant residents, visitors, and business people,” said Charles Denson, Project Director at Coney Island History Project. “During the first wave of immigration more than a century ago, Coney Island’s beach and fresh ocean air provided immigrant families an escape from steaming tenements and an opportunity to assimilate with people of all nationalities. It was a place to shed the constrictions of the old world and to find true freedom as Americans. Many of Coney’s famous attractions, past and present, were founded by immigrants who started small and worked their way up. The Coney Island History Project is excited to have this opportunity to expand our multilingual offerings with our new brochure in 10 languages, oral histories in six languages, and by offering the Immigrant Heritage Tour of Coney Island in both English and Mandarin for Immigrant Heritage Week 2018.” 

“We are proud to be a part of Immigrant Heritage Week 2018. We thank the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs for including us,” said Immigrant Arts Coalition Chair and NYTF CEO Christopher Massimine. “Storytelling has always been central in ensuring cultural legacy and continuity. The performing arts provides an important platform for authors to share their diversity, heritage, and identity. The impact of using live performance as the vehicle for the platform allows for an immediate and direct cross-cultural dialogue that informs a greater understanding of how Immigrant Arts have influenced, enhanced, and continue to expand the richly varied composition of the United States.”

“New York City is home to more than 3 million immigrants and The New York Public Library is honored to celebrate its diversity during Immigrant Heritage Week, offering a wide-range of programs that commemorate the rich culture of the City and help the newest New Yorkers navigate their home. Libraries are for everyone and our branches are proud to serve as trusted and supportive partners for all,” said Tony Marx, President of New York Public Library.

“Queens Botanical Garden is the place where people, plants, and cultures, meet! We’re thrilled to be a part of Immigrant Heritage Week and to offer a different perspective by shining light on New York’s botanical immigrants in our TULIP TIME! garden tours,” said Dylan House, Public Programs Manager at QBG.

“More than 40 years ago, Queens Library became the first public library system in the country to develop a comprehensive program to help new immigrant New Yorkers adapt to their new lives here and share their cultures with the community of Queens and beyond,” said Dennis M. Walcott, President and CEO of Queens Library. “They have shaped who we are today as an institution and will help define who we will be in the future. It is a pleasure to join the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs in celebrating their heritage and recognizing their invaluable contributions.” 

“Understanding and sharing different cultures is the first step to world peace,” said Kyo Kasumi, Director of Tate Hatoryu NY. “As we celebrate our Dojo’s 4th anniversary showcase, we present the tradition of TATE - Japanese Sword Fighting, a performing arts that represents the life and death of Samurai who respect each other, during Immigrant Heritage Week 2018, led by the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.”

 
Immigrant Heritage Flyer