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Mayor de Blasio, Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal Kick Off The 11th Annual Immigrant Heritage Week Celebration

April 17, 2014

NEW YORK–Mayor de Blasio and Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal today announced the kickoff of Immigrant Heritage Week. Immigrant Heritage Week is a citywide celebration that extends from April 17 through April 24, honoring the experiences and contributions of the millions of immigrants who have shaped our city for generations.

The celebration begins today at the Museum of the Moving Image with the New York City premiere screening and panel discussion of immigrant journalist José Antonio Vargas' acclaimed film "Documented;" and will continue with an ongoing series of "Community Conversations on Immigration," an effort to engage local community groups in constructive discussions about immigration and diversity in the city. The week will end with a breakfast at Gracie Mansion on April 23 with elected officials, civic, religious and business leaders from across the city's immigrant communities, hosted by Mayor de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray and Commissioner Agarwal.

"Whether your family came to New York City five or 100 years ago, this is a week to celebrate and honor our immigrant heritage and the advantages of our amazing diversity," said Mayor de Blasio. "This is also a good time to reflect on what we can do as a city to improve the lives of our immigrants. We encourage groups throughout the city to take advantage of Community Conversations on Immigration – they are a great way to generate good ideas that will reach immigrant communities where they live.”

"I'm proud of being part of an administration that truly seeks to reflect the diverse communities that we represent, and I view this week as an opportunity to launch my office's ongoing efforts to engage communities around the city on immigrant issues, and introduce all New Yorkers to Mayor de Blasio's progressive agenda," said Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Agarwal.

Established in 2004, Immigrant Heritage Week is celebrated around April 17, the day in 1907 when more immigrants entered through Ellis Island than any other date in the city's history. This year, Immigrant Heritage Week will take place from April 17 - 24. Immigrant Heritage Week was made an annual celebration by Executive Order 128, signed by the Mayor in 2009. It is a citywide celebration honoring the experiences and contributions of the millions of immigrants who have shaped our city for generations.

Community Conversations on Immigration

To highlight the diverse experiences and contributions of immigrants in New York and across the country, the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, in partnership with the New York Council for the Humanities, invites groups to sign up for Community Conversations on Immigration.

Community Conversations on Immigration explore New Yorkers' shared history as immigrants and the descendants of immigrants, and discuss the ways that immigration continues to shape the experience of being American today. Each conversation uses a short text as a starting point for discussions about cultural understanding and roles as active citizens in a diverse and democratic society.

Anyone can register and download a "do-it-yourself" toolkit for free from the New York Council for the Humanities website, tax-exempt organizations may eligible to receive a $200 stipend from the Council. The toolkit contains everything groups need to host these discussions, including: texts suitable for each audience; a set of sample questions; guidelines for starting and sustaining good conversations; tips for hosting a conversation; and a sample participant evaluation.

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