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Immigration Advocates Lobby State Lawmakers to Support Immigrant Safety Legislation

CIANA, NYIC, STOP, and QDEP meeting with staff from Assembly Member Sandy Galef's office (bottom left) to lobby for the New York for All Act

On April 21, CIANA staff participated in virtual lobbying to pass the New York for All (NY4All) Act, a proposed bill in the state legislature that aims to protect immigrant families in New York from being profiled, harassed, and separated by ICE in collusion with local governments and police departments.

What is New York for All?

During the presidency of Donald Trump, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted numerous raids in immigrant-heavy towns and neighborhoods nationwide. ICE agents were frequently spotted in Jackson Heights and Corona, two areas of Queens largely populated with undocumented Latin American immigrants, whom President Trump had vowed to target with aggressive new immigration policies.

The mass arrests, detentions, and deportations that have taken place in recent years are enabled in part by the gathering of information on certain immigrants in order to take legal action against them. Doing so requires coordination between ICE, municipal governments, and local law enforcement agencies.

The New York for All Act will prohibit such collaboration in New York State. Local government agencies will no longer be able to share sensitive information with ICE, and local law enforcement cannot be charged with enforcing federal immigration laws. The Act will also limit the places ICE can go to make arrests.

New York for All is necessary because even now, more than a year into the Biden Administration, no meaningful steps have been taken on a federal level to protect immigrants’ safety from ICE and its unethical yet legally protected activities. As a result of government inaction, many immigrants continue to live in fear and distrust of government and police. The New York for All Act seeks to enhance immigrants' sense of security in their daily lives and lessen their apprehension towards seeking and receiving government assistance, and towards authority in general.

What took place at the lobby day?

After a kick-off meeting with NY4All bill sponsor Senator Julia Salazar of Brooklyn, participants met with various legislators in small-group Zoom meetings alongside other allies, activists, and community organizations from across the state.

Together with representatives from the New York Immigration Coalition, New York Civil Liberties Union, Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, and Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, CIANA met first with staff from Assembly Member Helene Weinstein of Brooklyn, and then later with staff from Assembly Member Sandy Galef of Westchester.

At each meeting, CIANA’s staff recalled the fear felt by Middle Eastern and South Asian immigrants due to bigotry-fueled government surveillance after 9/11, which in turn led to CIANA’s founding in 2006. We also highlighted the sharp increase in clients who live in neighborhoods frequently targeted by ICE, the fear they tell us about, and the distrust we observe when doing outreach in their communities.

Just like our visit to Albany earlier this month to advocate for the AAPI Equity Budget, our hope was to convince lawmakers and their staff to either co-sponsor or support NY4All in order to protect immigrant families.

Certain localities in New York State have passed measures to protect immigrants from ICE surveillance and harassment. Westchester County, for instance passed the Immigrant Protection Act in March 2018, which prohibits county officials from assisting in federal investigations pertaining to one's identity, such as national origin. NY4All will apply this standard across the entire state.

Time will tell whether our efforts proved successful for the passage of the Act. Meanwhile, we continue to advocate for the safety and protection of our clients, their families, and their communities at large.


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