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Forging the Path to Greater Civic and Economic Engagement: “Key to the City” Collaboration among City Council, Consulates, New York Immigration Coalition, Schools, and Community Partners Leads the Way

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage,  Main Phone: 212-627-2227 x235,  E-mail: tyaku@thenyic.org
New York  (Sunday, February 23, 2014)

Forging the Path to Greater Civic and Economic Engagement: “Key to the City” Collaboration among City Council, Consulates, New York Immigration Coalition, Schools, and Community Partners Leads the Way

 Thousands of New Yorkers Receive Consular Identity Documents, DACA Information, and Other Integration Services

On Sunday morning at the William Paca School (P.S 155) in East Harlem, immigrant community members lined up to apply for consular identification cards and passports and receive a range of services, including information, screenings, and referral for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals assistance. This event is part of the New York Immigration Coalition’s City Council-funded “Key to the City” Initiative—just the latest of twenty-two such events that have taken place in schools in each borough since 2011 organized by the NYIC in collaboration with schools, community partners, and the consulates of Mexico, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru, and the Dominican Republic. The “Key to the City” initiative promotes immigrant integration in a variety of ways: facilitating immigrant parent access to their children’s schools and to financial services by providing them with acceptable identity documents; offering workshops on the college preparation process; providing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) information, screenings and referrals to adult education programs; and offering assistance and information on filing taxes, obtaining taxpayer ID numbers, opening bank accounts and protecting against immigration fraud, among other services. The result: In the past two-and-a-half years, 10,961 consular IDs and foreign passports have been distributed, and 16,838 community members provided with this broad range of services.

[Photo above] Victoria, an East Harlem resident who received her consular ID through the "Key to the City" Initiative speaks about how it has benefitted her. Behind her from left to right is Steven Choi, executive director of NYIC; Consul Cuevas of the Consulate of Mexico; Carlos Romero, a DACA recipient; Lucia Russett, director of advocacy at Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service; Zelene Pineda, special projects coordinator at the NYIC; Ivan Luevanos, Chief of Staff for Councilmember Carlos Menchaca; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; Consul General Lopez Amaya of the Ecuadorian Consulate; Pablo Lopez, representative of the El Salvadorian Consulate.

As over three hundred new parents gained services at P.S155 this week, the coalition, city officials, consulates, community organizations, and New Yorkers who have benefitted from the Key to the City initiative came together to speak about its impact.

“Government can either support integration of newcomers or have a practice of not-so-benign neglect,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “Our Key to the City initiative is a sterling example of government taking an active role to work in collaboration with community groups and schools to welcome immigrants as full members of our communities; so kudos to the New York City Council, the consulates of Mexico, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru, and the Dominican Republic; and our community and school partners in this endeavor. Schools historically have served as the great equalizer and the path to greater opportunity for all New Yorkers; and they bolster that role by welcoming consulates and community groups and other immigrant service providers in. Our Key to the City initiative could not have been launched at a better time: it has provided a great platform from which to share critical DACA information and services. And, with the potential roll-out of a municipal ID program, the New Yorkers who have received consulate IDs will be one step closer to obtaining the muni id and integrating more fully in the city’s civic and economic life.”

“I am a mother, wife, daughter and resident of East Harlem,” said Victoria, an East Harlem resident who received her consular ID through the initiative. “For my sister and I, consular ID cards have allowed us to enter schools to see our children. This Wednesday, I accompanied my parents to receive their consular identity cards at P.S 155. My husband also came and after receiving a legal screening, he discovered that he qualified for DACA. We were given resources on where he could apply for GED classes in order for him to be able to apply for DACA. This has been a huge help for my family and we are less worried. I am very grateful to the New York Immigration Coalition for organizing these events for our community and have signed up to volunteer at the next event.”

"Immigrants help make New York strong, and we need to do more to ensure that they know their rights. NYIC and the Consulates are providing a great service,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. “No one in our City should be exploited for any reason - and the way we prevent that is with education and outreach."

“For many immigrant families, consulates are the only resource they currently have to provide them with the kind of ID necessary to meaningfully participate in their communities,” said Councilmember Carlos Menchaca. “IDs are necessary for families to visit and check-in on their children at school, open bank accounts, and access important government services. Consulates across New York have recognized a critical need that needs action. And as Chair of the Immigration Committee, I am proud to be advancing legislation that will provide municipal IDs to immigrants and other marginalized groups, like the elderly, LGBT, and homeless communities across the City.”

“In LSA Family Health Service’s work with disadvantaged families in El Barrio, we’re seeing that many remain unaware that DACA even exists,” said Lucia Russet, director of advocacy at Little Sisters Assumption Family Health Services. “Others mistakenly believe it’s only for students, while still others can’t apply because they can’t afford the legal fees. That’s why this outreach and ID event are so important: DACA can literally change the course of lives, and if only a fraction of those eligible apply, that means thousands could miss out. Thanks to this event and collaborative outreach with NYIC and NYC DYCD, many more will apply.”

“We support the NYIC’s initiative in public schools. It complements our mission to be close to our community while at the same helping our nationals improve their lives and to fight for and protect their human rights,” said Sandra Marisol Cruz de Flores, Consul General of El Salvador in New York and Chair of  the Coalition of Latin American Consulates in New York (CLACNY).

“The Consulate of Ecuador in New York is dedicated to consistently providing accessible quality services with care to our community,” said Consul General Lopez Amaya, Ecuadorian Consulate. “Our collaboration alongside the New York Immigration Coalition has opened new spaces to better reach our nationals where they are able to benefit from the services provided by the consulate and the valuable assistance offered by the NYIC. It is in this framework of collaboration that we are able to present greater opportunities that benefit our community."

"The Consulate is grateful for the work that the New York Immigration Coalition has done to promote consular services and the support of it provides to the Consulate on Wheels," said Consul Cuevas of the Consulate of Mexico in New York.

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The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees. The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.

 

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