Mayoral candidate Eric Adams unveiled on June 3, 2021 his “WeRISE” agenda to raise immigrant safety and empowerment at a town hall for ethnic and community media.
A 2015-19 estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that 36.8 percent of this city’s residents — more than one out of every three — is foreign-born, living across the five boroughs.
“My Administration will lift up immigrants as high as Lady Liberty lifts her torch in our harbor, as a beacon of hope for all who come to our shores,” said Eric Adams. “Too many of our neighbors live in the shadows, scarred by the abusive rhetoric and tactics of the Trump era and fearing a denial of their rights. The intimidating complexity of our City bureaucracy is compounded by the challenges that immigrants with limited English proficiency face in navigating everything from education to housing to healthcare. In addition to building on our existing efforts to increase civic engagement to new levels and foster the leadership of voices from every community, we will ensure that together WeRISE.”
Adams announced that he would launch a $50 million annual Immigrant Venture Fund for small businesses started by first- and second-generation New Yorkers, with a special weight toward businesses that support the immigrant community.
According to a 2018 report from the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), 52 percent of the city’s businesses are immigrant-owned. To pay for this Venture Fund, his administration would divert funds from the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC)’s budget that are historically allocated for discretionary tax benefits and tax-exempt financing for major companies seeking City support.
Regarding immigrant safety, Adams declared that he would direct all city agencies to make their services accessible without putting immigrants at risk of law enforcement action, expand already existing legal services, and severely restrict cooperation between the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — including ensuring that ICE is removed from all City buildings and facilities — until there is major federal reform, including the use of body cameras by all ICE agents. He also reaffirmed that he would combat hate crime with a zero-tolerance policy, including attacks targeting immigrant communities.
Noting that more than 150 different languages are spoken in the city, Adams said he would direct the NYPD to prioritize language justice for victims to make it easier to safely report, as well as work in partnership with district attorneys to ensure that they have the resources they need to swiftly identify, apprehend, and prosecute those who prey on innocent New Yorkers through these cowardly acts. Additionally, his administration would take a more robust approach with the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes that includes rapid graffiti removal, support for expanded anti-hate curriculums in our public schools, and innovative cross-cultural dialogue initiatives like his “Breaking Bread, Building Bonds” program at Brooklyn Borough Hall that brings together everyday people each from all various ethnicities, identities, and faiths around a dinner and conversation.
Adams’ “WeRISE” agenda also includes:
· Boosting funding for NYC Cares to expand outreach to immigrant communities and enroll them in the City’s health plans for which they are already eligible;
· Creating one-stop-shop health centers in underserved communities, sited in NYCHA complexes and open storefronts that are accessible to any New Yorker — no matter their legal status in the U.S., as well as pairing safety-net hospitals with wealthier ones to share cost burdens;
· Prioritizing language justice, and funding it, with qualified City translators and stipend-based fellows expand language access for City services and resources.
· Enhancing the IDNYC program with extraordinary security to protect users, an improved MyCity platform that provides direct connection to social services through a single portal, and mandating access to this program for any person leaving Rikers Island and needing proof of identity.
· Using our leverage as a client to create a fairer economy for immigrants, rewarding businesses that hire local workers and benefit minority and female owners and workers — especially on City-financed projects.
· Hiring a Chief Diversity Officer to drive change on equity for minorities and women, and also create a tool to track the share of M/WBE contracts and how much the City is spending on those companies versus others in real-time.
· Bolstering City legal services battling discrimination in the workplace, such as cases of wage theft and unjust denial of Section 8 vouchers, as well as any other forms of harassment based on immigration status.
· Instituting a robust program for culturally-aware professional development of educators.
· Opening a new Mayor’s Office of Community and Ethnic Media, to expand the resources they need to continue bringing vital information to New Yorkers.