NEW YORK, NY - Over the past eighteen months, New York City has seen a dramatic increase in newcomers, many of whom have arrived in our nation seeking safe haven. In responding to this new challenge, the City—government, the nonprofit sector, and faith-based organizations—have worked hard to meet the demand for services. The time has now come for a full, coordinated response by federal, state, and local authorities.
To begin with, the federal government must expedite employment authorizations for qualifying individuals, so that they can fill important jobs in the New York economy and care for their families.
Likewise, Congress and the administration must work together to provide the necessary aid to New York and other cities that are receiving a high number of new arrivals, including aid to ensure resources for temporary shelter, case management support, and more.
Local governments in the New York City metropolitan and regional area should allow for the relocation of asylum seekers to their jurisdictions, as appropriate for migrant families and necessary for a fair distribution of numbers. This would relieve some pressure on the City in the short-term. New York State should provide resources to assist in this shared goal, which also should be coordinated with the federal government.
Finally, and most importantly, it is time for Congress to put politics aside and adopt changes to our national immigration system that offer legal and sensible channels for migration. It is time to modernize America’s immigration system so that it meets the needs of the nation and ensures integration of long-time immigrants into society.
For that to happen, all elected officials must stop public criticisms, harsh rhetoric and finger-pointing. None of this helps serve the public interest and instead makes finding appropriate and just solutions more difficult.
The Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) has been at the forefront of studying immigrant populations in New York City. We have found that immigrants contribute greatly to the city, particularly if they are allowed to work and participate in their local communities. CMS has documented the contributions of immigrants, their value to the New York City construction industry, and the contributions of Hispanic immigrants nationally, including New York.
New York’s history and character have been shaped and defined by immigrants, making it one of the world’s greatest cities. We must not turn our backs on them but rather continue to welcome them. History has taught us that when we meet the moment this way, our city and nation receive only long-term gains.
C. Mario Russell
Center for Migration Studies of New York
Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS)
The Center for Migration Studies is a New York-based educational institute devoted to the study of international migration, to the promotion of understanding between immigrants and receiving communities, and to public policies that safeguard the dignity and rights of migrants, refugees, and newcomers. For more information, please visit www.cmsny.org.