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Mayor de Blasio, Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Agarwal Announce 13th Annual Immigrant Heritage Week Celebration

April 17, 2016

2016 Celebrations Mark the Launch of NYCitizenship Services

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner Nisha Agarwal of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs today announced the start of Immigrant Heritage Week 2016. The citywide celebration, which includes events across the five boroughs from April 17-23, features a rich collection of programs. The theme for 2016, “From Many, Making NYC One,” reflects the many ways in which New York City immigrant communities contribute to the vitality of our city, including civic and economic participation, cultural contributions and an ongoing commitment to civil rights and justice.

“New York City is an amalgamation of cultures and nationalities, and we strive to be inclusive of each and every one of them. What better way to advance this goal than to celebrate inclusivity with the beginning of Immigrant Heritage Week, during which we will be kicking off NYCitzenship to help immigrant New Yorkers take the final leap into becoming citizens. It is an honor to partake in such meaningful celebration,” said Mayor de Blasio.

"New York City is proud of our immigrant heritage and our role as a national leader on humane immigration policies. New York City was built by immigrants and immigration is what keeps our city vibrant. I am proud to partner with the de Blasio administration to support immigrant heritage week and look forward to continuing our work to make New York a welcoming city for immigrants." said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

“During this Immigrant Heritage Week, the de Blasio administration will expand our ongoing work to ensure that all immigrant New Yorkers have access to justice and city services,” said Commissioner Nisha Agarwal of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “Through the launch of NYCitizenship, immigrant New Yorkers will have the support they need as they pursue a pathway to citizenship. Further, Immigrant Heritage Week’s dialogue and events will demonstrate New York City’s commitment to include all New Yorkers in the fabric of our City, regardless of their status.”

"Our city was built by immigrants, and immigrants remain our city's heart and soul," said Public Advocate Letitia James. "This week, we take extra time to recognize and celebrate our immigrant communities. As individuals running for our nation's highest office spew xenophobic rhetoric, I remind immigrants that in New York, we will never stop working to provide fair and equal opportunities for all."

During Immigrant Heritage Week 2016, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs will formally launch NYCitizenship services. Approximately 650,000 immigrant New Yorkers are one step away from citizenship. NYCitizenship will provide free citizenship services and financial counseling at 12 public library branches alongside services available at the New York City Human Resources Administration sites. NYCitizenship was first announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio during the City’s first-ever Citizenship Week of Action. To make an appointment, New York City residents simply have to call 311 and say “citizenship appointment.”

NYCitizenship is a collaborative effort by the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, Queens Library, New York City Human Resources Administration, New York Legal Assistance Group, and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, with support from Citi Community Development, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Robin Hood Foundation.

“By offering naturalization services, legal assistance and financial education all in one familiar place, NYCitizenship is paving the way to countless new opportunities for our immigrant communities – from better pay to homeownership. It’s exactly what our city needs as we continue to fight against income inequality and fight for vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Darren Bloch, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. “We’re grateful to our longtime partners – Citi Community Development, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Robin Hood Foundation – for supporting the expansion of this vital program to libraries citywide.”

“Citizenship offers significant economic benefits for immigrants, their households and the cities in which they live,” said Bob Annibale, Global Director of Citi Community Development and Inclusive Finance. “Citi is proud to partner with the City of New York to integrate financial empowerment services into the NYCitizenship program, enabling 650,000 permanent residents to build a strong financial identity alongside a new national identity.”

“Partnering with Mayor de Blasio and serving immigrant families is core to Robin Hood's mission of fighting poverty in our city,” said Veyom Bahl, Senior Program Officer at Robin Hood. “NYCitizenship extends the Mayor and Commissioner Agarwal's strong record of providing critical services for immigrant families directly in their communities. We are honored to be joining forces with the Administration yet again through this important initiative."

“We at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services know that libraries are a second home to immigrants – more than 55 percent of recent immigrants use the public library at least once a week. For years, libraries nationwide have been great allies for USCIS in helping to get important immigration information to those who need it. Last year, we were proud to partner with New York libraries to establish ‘New Americans Corners’ in every library branch in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens,” said Phyllis Coven, New York District Director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. “Today’s announcement builds off that great partnership, and we congratulate the New York Library systems and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs for establishing such a valuable service to New York’s immigrants.”

“For centuries, immigrants have been an integral part of the fabric of our City,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “As we celebrate their strengths and history and acknowledge the many contributions immigrants have made, we also renew our commitment to ensure that immigrants are given access to all the resources and services they need to succeed in this country.”

“Immigrant communities add to the diversity and vibrancy of New York City – making up a third of the City’s population, and accounting for nearly half of the small business community. Having immigrated to Brooklyn from Grenada, I understand firsthand how business ownership can empower a family for generations, which is why we are committed to celebrating our immigrant business communities during Immigrant Heritage Week and throughout the year,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. “Under Mayor de Blasio, we’ve provided more than 1,500 services to immigrant entrepreneurs across the five boroughs through our Immigrant Business Initiative, and increased the number of non-English business courses by six-fold at our Business Solution Centers.”

“As I’m an immigrant myself, I’m proud of the work that the City of New York does to empower immigrant communities in New York City,” said Department of Consumer Affairs First Deputy Commissioner Alba Pico. “From providing immigrant populations with free financial counseling to ensure they have access to financial mainstream to making tools available in their language to ensure immigrant-owned businesses thrive, the Department of Consumer Affairs works every day to make sure immigrant communities continue to flourish. I’m delighted to celebrate Immigrant Heritage Week with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.”

“During Immigrant Heritage Week, we acknowledge and celebrate the cultural richness that New York City’s immigrant communities bring to our everyday lives,” said Commission on Human Rights Commissioner and Chair Carmelyn P. Malalis‎. “As the daughter of immigrants from the Philippines, I have a strong appreciation for the sacrifices made and courage involved in moving to this country from other lands. I also share in the pride of immigrants and their communities as their many contributions are felt and enjoyed by all New Yorkers. At the Commission, we are dedicated to protecting every New Yorker from discrimination, including our immigrant brothers and sisters, so that everyone can benefit from the diversity that makes this city the greatest city in the world.”

“The public health system has long provided high quality, culturally competent medical services to all New Yorkers regardless of income, insurance or immigration status,” said Dr. Ram Raju, President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals. “We serve patients from more than 170 foreign countries and unlike other health systems, our staff hail from similar backgrounds. This week during the celebration of Immigrant Heritage we celebrate the cultures and customs that set NYC Health + Hospitals apart.”

Immigrant Heritage Week was established in 2004 and is a citywide celebration that honors the experiences and contributions of immigrants in New York City. Every year, New York City celebrates Immigrant Heritage Week from April 17–23. April 17 marks the day in 1907 when more immigrants entered through Ellis Island than any other date in the City's history.

To commemorate Immigrant Heritage Week, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs will host a variety of events on issues related to immigration policy and immigrant rights. Press can RSVP to the below events here.

Valuing Our Undocumented Heritage: Stories from the Margins: Past & Present*
Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Documented cIRCA 86: Immigration Reform Turns Thirty, and the CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies
Monday, April 18, 2016, 6:00 PM
365 5th Ave., New York, NY 10016 (Room 9205/9206)

NYCitizenship Launch Event*
Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs
Tuesday, April 19, 11:00 AM
Press event, press can RSVP here.

Immigrant Workers Panel
Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, New York City Department of Small Business Services
Thursday, April 21, 6:00 PM
NYU Law – Vanderbilt Hall Room 220
40 Washington Square South, New York, 10012

Know Your Rights Forum on Immigration 
Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs and Community Job Center
Friday, April 22, 7:00 PM 
774 Port Richmond Ave, Staten Island 10302

For a full calendar of community events, visit

“New York’s history is one of wave upon wave of immigration, each new community adding to and building upon the richness of our city’s heritage,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “This is a place where you can come from anywhere and do anything. Keeping it that way, and helping the newest New Yorkers realize that dream, is how we live up to that heritage.”

"In this city, we proudly celebrate our immigrant New Yorkers. Our national political leaders need to wake up and embrace the truth:  when we open the doors of government to everyone, we move our cities and nation forward in the name of human dignity and progress," said Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Committee on Immigration.

"New York City is one of the most vibrant places on earth thanks to our immigrant friends, neighbors and family members," said Council Member Daniel Dromm. "I am pleased to join the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs in celebrating Immigrant Heritage Week 2016, a time to recognize the many contributions immigrants have made to NYC. As a Council Member representing one of the largest immigrant populations in the city, I will continue to do all that I can to ensure that the needs of our newest New Yorkers are being met."

"New York City must provide the tools so that immigrants and all other workers can access good quality jobs. To that end I have been a vocal advocate of worker cooperatives, which treat every worker equally, with good wages, stable hours, and an equal share of business. I want to thank the Mayor's Office for Immigrant Affairs, the Department of Small Business Services, and the NYU Law School for bringing us all together to discuss worker cooperatives and other opportunities for immigrant workers," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

Javier H. Valdés, co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York, said, “In this city of immigrants, it’s critical to highlight the tremendous contributions of immigrants to our cultural landscape, economy, and to the struggle for respect and dignity for all New Yorkers. Make the Road New York is proud to stand with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs in this weeklong celebration and in our ongoing efforts to build on the de Blasio administration’s strong record of immigrant integration efforts.” 
"New York City's Immigrant Heritage Week is an important time to reflect on the many cultures and communities that make up this great city," said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. "We applaud the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs for honoring the many contributions of immigrants in robust programming in this week-long celebration that helps our communities learn from each other."

“Centering the cultural contributions, histories, and voices of immigrant New Yorkers is essential in building healthy, connected communities. Immigrant Heritage Week reminds us that, as a city, we are interconnected and our success depends on recognizing we are one,” said Kayhan Irani of Artivista.

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