News / USA

    Diverse New York Conference Discusses Immigrants Rights

    A widely diverse group of stakeholders attended the "This Land is Your Land" immigration conference, sponsored by the New York Immigration Coalition. (A. Phillips - VOA)
    A widely diverse group of stakeholders attended the "This Land is Your Land" immigration conference, sponsored by the New York Immigration Coalition. (A. Phillips - VOA)
    Adam Phillips
    With more than four million first generation immigrants living within New York state borders, government officials, immigrant advocates and community members often attend conferences that address their many complex legal, political and humanitarian concerns.

    Until now, there has been little coordination or constructive conversation among those stakeholders, but the recent “This Land is Your Land Too” conference in a packed Manhattan meeting hall aimed to change that.

    “I think the importance of today is that we’re seeing representatives of community-based agencies, [and] not-for-profit groups who work with immigrants coming down, sitting with government officials at the New York City, state and even the federal government levels,” said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales.

    It is easy to understand why immigrants wish to be welcomed, and Perales said New York State has an economic interest in doing so.

    “From a very selfish perspective, these newcomers are very important to our economy. They provide labor. They start businesses. We want to make sure that immigrants stay in New York, and understand that they are wanted in New York State,” he said.
          
    Nisha Agarwal, New York City’s commissioner for immigrant affairs, would like to make it easier for immigrants to stay. She supports immigration reform that helps undocumented immigrants gain legitimacy and eases the path to citizenship.

    “People’s lives are transformed. They can be pulled out of poverty and stay out of poverty if they have appropriate legal status,” she said, adding that the rules currently in place are a bureaucratic and humanitarian disaster.     

    “Breadwinners being deported and permanently removed from their families; kids are entering foster care because of that, and just people living in fear because they don’t have appropriate immigration status. That’s not in anybody’s interest,” Agarwal said.

    She said city-sponsored focus groups recently established that one out of four young immigrants were technically eligible for legal relief but did not know it.

    “So they’ve been living undocumented and they don’t have to be. I think that’s astounding.”  

    Attorney Camille Mackler of the New York Immigration Coalition says that getting accurate legal information to both rural and urban immigrants can be challenging but for different reasons.   

    “In New York City, we face communities that are a lot more insular, a lot more closed in on themselves, where we are having a hard time getting the trust of the communities to have them come out and meet with representatives outside their communities to get help," Mackler said. 

    "Upstate, the problem is that they are spread out and they are also not participating in any sort of civic life. They are not part of the towns. They purposely stay outside of the towns because they fear profiling, they fear discrimination, and they fear law enforcement,” she said. 

    Getting adequate legal representation can be especially difficult for rural immigrants. Many work on farms and cannot make a daytime appointment with a lawyer. Without documentation, they cannot get drivers' licenses. This can put city-based lawyers out of reach as well.

    To help, the New York Immigration Coalition, which organized this conference, runs a government-funded program to train local grassroots advocates who are not attorneys. 

    Other groups help make it easier for immigrants to get to English classes, to connect with skills and job training opportunities, and to obtain practical support for starting a business - all efforts to let immigrants know that this land is their land too.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora