January 07, 2019

MinKwon Center and APA Organizations Announce 2019 NY State Immigration Legislative Priorities

Flushing, NY — The MinKwon Center for Community Action hosted a press conference today with other Asian Pacific American community-based organizations and NY State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, NY Assemblymember David Weprin, representatives from NY Assemblymember Ron Kim’s office, announcing our New York State immigration legislative priorities for the 2019 legislative session. MinKwon’s priorities are for the NY State DREAM Act, which would provide state-level financial aid opportunities for all immigrant students pursuing higher education, and for the Green Light NY Campaign, which would provide access to state drivers’ licenses for all immigrant New Yorkers. MinKwon believes that 2019 will be a decisive year for immigrant communities to advance legislation that will expand and uphold the civil rights, equal opportunity and dignity of all New Yorkers.

“Immigrants across New York and the country have endured constant attacks to their safety, healthcare, education and economic opportunity emboldened by the Trump administration,” said John Park, Executive Director of the MinKwon Center. “Yet our communities turned out in record numbers for the 2018 midterm elections to vote for expanding access, rights, and dignity for all. Voter turnout in our borough of Queens nearly doubled compared to 2014! Our communities used their political voice to make themselves loud and clear — 2019 is the year New York makes a difference. All New Yorkers deserve to commute safely on the road, and have equal access to pursue higher education and greater opportunities. We recommit our efforts to push for the NY State DREAM Act and Green Light NY that will make these rights and opportunities a reality."

NY Assemblymember Ron Kim said, "I am pleased to join my colleagues and the many organizations of New York who represent our communities for this announcement of legislative priorities. With a unified legislature, I believe we are in a great position to achieve some of the ambitious goals that have been set forth, including the NY DREAM Act and Green Light campaign. I thank the MinKwon Center for organizing today's event and coordinating with our community's advocates and leaders in advancing some of the key priorities for this legislative session."

Kevin Cho, Immigration Program Manager & Community Liasion of Korean Community Services of Metro NY, said: "KCS is proud to be joining our immigrant communities, allies, and partners to advance immigrant justice and protect immigrants in New York. We would like to highlight the Green Light NY bill which would provide driver's licenses to all immigrants regardless of their immigration status in New York. This bill will ensure that immigrants can work and support their families and improve interaction with law enforcement and our state's economy as a whole. KCS will continue to support the immigrant communities in New York by providing the resources and services needed to ensure that they are protected and become a thriving member of our society."

"America is a nation of immigrants. New York State has had a proud culture of welcoming immigrants for a long time,” said Rev. Wontae Cho, Chair of the Korean Sanctuary Church Network, “KASCN hopes that New York State will pay more attention to the voices of immigrants. I urge New York State to be the leading state of human rights and social justice to protect immigrants. It is urged to ensure the survival of a variety of people and to create a law that will enable the blocked immigrants to dream."

Rev. Jin Eun Park, Executive Director of Wonkwang Community Service Center, said: "Though trivial for some, we have something really precious. Issuing a driver's license to all New Yorkers and the Dream Act for undocumented students can give them a truly precious dream and inspiration. We will always be with them. This is a great opportunity and it is time for us to gather strength."

“In New York City alone, the Asian Pacific American community has the highest poverty rate of all groups. While 78% of Asian Americans are foreign-born,” says Anita Gundanna, Co-Executive Director of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, the nation's only pan-Asian children's advocacy organization, “only U.S. citizens currently qualify for in-state scholarships and financial aid to attend college.” Vanessa Leung, Co-Executive Director of CACF, says, “In the face of rising costs in higher education, the NY DREAM Act will ensure that college will be more affordable to all immigrant students, regardless of immigration status. We are proud to stand with the Minkwon Center and other Asian Pacific American organizations on this NY State Immigration Legislative Agenda for the upcoming 2019 session.”

AAFE is proud to stand with our community partners in support of hard working immigrants who are striving to provide for their families and contribute to American society, said Jennifer Sun and Thomas Yu, co-executive directors of Asian Americans for Equality. The New York DREAM Act has languished in New York State for far too long and the proposed driver's license access law is important for enabling immigrants to participate more fully in our economy, while increasing road safety for all New Yorkers. We urge our elected officials to approve these measures, which would create more educational opportunity for our young people and allow undocumented immigrants to strengthen our economic vitality."

"For undocumented folks like myself and my family, the passage of the NYS DREAM Act and the NY Protect Our Courts Act, as well as the restoration and expansion of driversity licenses for all New Yorkers, would transform our daily lives and allow us to live without fear," said Stephanie Park, community organizer at the Asian American Legal Defense Education Fund. "In the face of the Trump administration's cruel and racist policies, it is more important than ever to work alongside state-level elected officials to provide real wins for our Asian American immigrant community.”

"CPC provides higher education counseling and support for Asian American Pacific Islander, low-income, and immigrant youth and families because we believe that college can be a gateway toward success and further the economic and social empowerment of individuals and communities," said Mitchel Wu, CPC Director of Queens Community Services. "We know that young people who pursue higher education graduate with the skills and knowledge to give back to, uplift, and advance their community. But as a counseling provider, CPC also knows firsthand how financial barriers and high tuition rates can mean the difference between making dreams come true or watching them fade away. The NY DREAM Act that provides state-level financial aid to all students regardless of status brings our state one step closer to making those dreams a reality."

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