FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:September 17, 2018
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New multilingual LinkNYC ads encourage 660,000 eligible New Yorkers to apply for citizenship
New flyers promote voting for eligible immigrant New Yorkers, and more ways to engage with civic society
NEW YORK—On the 231st anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, the de Blasio Administration recognizes Constitution Day and Citizenship Day by announcing a series of initiatives encouraging increased immigrant civic engagement. The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) partnered with LinkNYC and local artists Shimeah Davis and Dayo Olopade to launch a new ad campaign encouraging eligible New Yorkers to utilize NYCitizenship in their journey to becoming citizens. In addition, MOIA—in collaboration with the NYC Campaign Finance Board and DemocracyNYC—has created new informational materials to educate immigrant New Yorkers on voting and additional ways to be civically engaged in New York City.
In partnership with private foundations, libraries, and legal service providers, the de Blasio Administration is providing free help to apply for citizenship, as well as demystifying the levers of democracy for our immigrant communities, in order to lower barriers to civic participation across New York City.
“Americans have fought for the sacred right to vote for generations. Through DemocracyNYC, we will continue to encourage all New Yorkers to participate in our civic life,” said Phil Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “I’m proud to work with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, my fellow colleagues in public service, private funders, and across the public sector to rebuild our democracy and make it truly equitable across NYC.”
“Immigrant New Yorkers play a vibrant role in our economy and our civic communities. No matter your immigration status, all New Yorkers will play a critical role in building our city for tomorrow,” said Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “This Citizenship Day, we aim to empower eligible immigrant New Yorkers who are eager to become citizens, and provide more New Yorkers with information on how they can get involved in our democracy. A diverse set of New Yorkers from all paths of life will help make New York City’s future even greater.”
“As the quintessential city of immigrants, New York City takes pride in being a beacon of hope for all those who have come here seeking a better life for themselves and their families,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “To further our commitment with immigrant New Yorkers we want to provide them with the support they need on their path to become citizens, which will allow them to have greater access to opportunities and to fully participate in the civic an economic future of our nation.”
“We know that citizenship is a powerful tool for fighting poverty and helping individuals and families access economic stability, yet many immigrants remain one step away from citizenship because they can’t find trusted and reliable legal counsel,” said Toya Williford, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. “Today, we are proud to stand with our philanthropic partners to support NYCitizenship because we believe immigrant New Yorkers should be able to access legal advice without fear of deportation or falling prey to fraudulent providers.”
“New York City welcomes immigrants and encourages all new-comers to pursue the full rights and privileges that come from becoming a citizen,” said Matthew Klein, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. “Our office is proud to support NYCitizenship, an innovative program that reaches the most vulnerable of those New Yorkers who are potentially eligible for citizenship. Obtaining citizenship status can lead to more economic security, a greater sense of belonging, and even more opportunities to contribute to the City’s civic life.”
“Immigrants are an integral part of our society and instrumental in making New York the greatest city in the world,” said Samir Saini, Commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. “We’re proud to display this campaign on thousands of Link kiosks across the five boroughs, showcasing our pride in who we are: a City of Immigrants.”
This Citizenship Day, the de Blasio Administration is continuing our efforts to help New Yorkers apply to naturalize. Approximately 660,000 immigrant New Yorkers with lawful permanent resident status (“green card” holders) are one step away from citizenship. Through this new ad campaign—at no cost to the City—LinkNYC kiosks will display multilingual ads in targeted, immigrant-dense communities encouraging New Yorkers to apply for citizenship through NYCitizenship. MOIA worked with local New York City artists, with a strong desire to engage and support immigrant communities through art, to design the ads. They will be on display starting today in Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Haitian Creole, and Bengali, with additional languages to come.
NYCitizenship provides free citizenship application assistance and financial counseling across all five boroughs at 12 public library branches alongside services available at in partnership with the New York City Human Resources Administration. To make an appointment, New York City residents simply have to call 311 and say “citizenship appointment.”
In addition, the de Blasio Administration encourages all New Yorkers to participate in our democracy, including new citizens who are eligible to vote. With citizenship comes the right to vote, but the voting process can be opaque to the newly-enfranchised as well as for New Yorkers not yet eligible to vote. The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs—in partnership with the New York City Campaign Finance Board and DemocracyNYC—created new information cards for immigrant communities to clarify who can and cannot vote, how to register to vote, as well as providing resources for additional ways New Yorkers can engage in civic society, regardless of immigration status. These include: getting involved in local community boards and education councils; taking part in participatory budgeting; and volunteering in your community, including on political campaigns.
The new information cards will be distributed to community organizations and directly to New Yorkers across the city in a wide variety of languages – English, Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Greek, Haitian Creole, Italian, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Urdu, and Yiddish. The City serves all New Yorkers, regardless of one’s ability to vote. When more New Yorkers participate in civic society, we can make better, more-informed decisions about NYC’s future.
NYCitizenship is one of several initiatives that the City is involved in related to citizenship. New York City, along with the cities of Chicago and Los Angeles, chairs Cities for Citizenship (C4C), a national initiative aimed at increasing citizenship among eligible U.S. permanent residents. The initiative is supported by the Founding Corporate Partner, Citi Community Development, as well as the Center for Popular Democracy and National Partnership for New Americans. Through C4C, the City contributed a case study as part of the initiative’s annual report on how naturalization contributes to financial empowerment among immigrant communities. Naturalization leads to lower unemployment rates, better job opportunities, higher wages, and increased homeownership for immigrant communities, alongside higher tax revenues for local governments. The City also partners with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the three library systems to provide individuals with information on citizenship and other immigration issues at the New American Corners in all city public libraries.
“By providing free citizenship application assistance in our city’s public libraries, the NYCitizenship program is supporting thousands of immigrants in their paths to become citizens,” said Julie Sandorf, President of the Charles H. Revson Foundation. “Given the public library’s critical role in serving all New Yorkers in free and welcoming community spaces, we couldn’t imagine a better partnership.”
“Citizenship is an asset for eligible New Yorkers to gain greater access to opportunities including increased household income and potential homeownership,” said Gregory Schiefelbein, New York Tri-State Director of Citi Community Development. “Programs such as NYCitizenship and the national Cities for Citizenship initiative, which has now grown to nearly 70 cities and counties, are vital for building diverse, thriving and financially inclusive cities.”
“Robin Hood is proud to partner with NYC and the Mayor's team to connect vulnerable immigrant households to important benefits and services,” said Emary Aronson, Chief Program Officer at Robin Hood. “This innovative multi-pronged collaboration demonstrates the strength of public-private partnerships and the power of securing citizenship to lift communities.”
"Brooklyn Public Library has long been an engine of civic engagement throughout the borough, providing nearly 700 volunteer-led citizenship preparation groups and over 1600 English classes in 2017," said Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library. "As we celebrate Citizenship Day, we renew our commitment to providing all of New York with basic civic services as well as cultural and educational programs that encourage dialogue about country, community and identity."
“The New York Public Library has been a trusted resource for immigrants for generations — a tradition that supports the proud immigrant history of New York,” said Anthony W. Marx, President of the New York Public Library. “The Library provides access to valuable services such as ESOL and citizenship classes, bilingual storytimes and programs, and materials in other languages and we are grateful for the opportunity to continue our partnership with the City offering NYCitizenship, ensuring our patrons receive the vital resources they need to thrive.”
“Queens Library is proud to have a key role in helping immigrant New Yorkers become U.S. citizens through this program,” said Dennis M. Walcott, Queens Library President and CEO. “We are looking forward to welcoming more people to our libraries for the opportunity to take the last step towards citizenship and full participation in our democracy.”
“NYLAG is proud to be the legal services partner of the NYCitizenship program,” said Beth Goldman, President & Attorney-in-Charge of the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG). “Hundreds of New York City immigrants have already become naturalized citizens through the program, and the LinkNYC campaign will give thousands more the information they need to access these critical services.”
“Naturalized citizens have higher income, generate more taxes, connect with their neighbors more easily, and assume their full rights and responsibilities in this country,” said Joshua Hoyt, Executive Director of the National Partnership for New Americans. “The work of cities like New York City, and the Cities for Citizenship network, positively impacts not only these individuals but also their local economies.”
“As a city of immigrants, we know that our democracy works best when every voice is heard,” said Amy Loprest, Executive Director of the NYC Campaign Finance Board and its NYC Votes campaign. “To build a city that truly reflects our highest values, we need all New Yorkers to seize the opportunity to have their voices counted on Election Day and beyond.”
“As a first generation American and lawyer, I’m proud to help New York City raise awareness about the free legal services available to residents ready to join our imperfect union,” said Dayo Olopade, Esq. “We need them—immigrants make America great.”
“As a Native New Yorker, I’m proud to call this beautiful city of immigrants my home. This ad campaign will help diverse New Yorkers connect with the citizenship help they need to build a more secure future in America,” said artist Shimeah Davis.
The NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs promotes the well-being of NYC’s immigrant communities by recommending policies and managing programs that help to successfully integrate immigrant New Yorkers into the civic, economic, and cultural life of the city. For more information on all MOIA services, go to NYC.gov/immigrants, call 311, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
NYCitizenship is a collaborative effort by the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, Queens Library, New York City Human Resources Administration, New York Legal Assistance Group, and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. The program is supported by the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity alongside private funders including Citi Community Development, the first private funder for NYCitizenship; the Carnegie Corporation of New York; the Charles H. Revson Foundation; and Robin Hood, the largest poverty-fighting organization in New York.