Commissioner's Biography

Commissioner Manuel Castro
Commissioner Manuel Castro

Commissioner Manuel Castro, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs

In January of 2022, Manuel was appointed by Mayor Eric Adams as Commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA). He is responsible for running a City agency dedicated to supporting over 3.2 million immigrant New Yorkers. MOIA works to ensure immigrants access culturally and linguistically responsive services in partnership with agencies across the city and community partners.

Throughout his career, Commissioner Castro has strongly advocated for immigrant New Yorkers. Prior to joining MOIA, Castro served as the Executive Director of New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE), a Queens-based organization working to create a world where immigrants can live and work with justice, dignity, and respect. Under Castro’s leadership, NICE developed a set-up of highly impactful and innovative programs and services aimed at strengthening the individual and collective capacities of immigrant workers, particularly those in the informal economy like day laborers and domestic workers. During the COVID-19 crisis, Castro led NICE as it remained open to help immigrant communities access emergency services. During this time, NICE dispersed nearly $4 million in direct cash assistance, distributed tens of thousands of pounds of food to immigrant families in need and helped thousands of immigrant workers apply for the state's Excluded Worker Fund (EWF).

Previously, Castro led federal and local public policy advocacy campaigns for the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), the largest and most diverse statewide immigrant coalition in the country. At NYIC, he led local campaigns to expand immigrant rights in New York, such as the NYS DREAM Act and the campaign for driver's licenses. Castro also coordinated a statewide campaign of nearly 200 organizations working to pass federal immigration reform. The campaign played a major role in successfully advocating for President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Castro now serves on the NYIC’s board of directors.

As a child, Castro crossed the border with his mother to reunite with his father who immigrated to NYC years earlier. He grew up in Sunset Park and Flatbush, Brooklyn, home to some of the largest immigrant communities in New York City. He was part of the early generation of undocumented youth activists known as DREAMers fighting for the right to an education and legal status.

Castro earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Urban Anthropology from Hampshire College and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College, City University of New York (CUNY).