BY TRONE DOWD
Queens advocacy groups said that they will continue to support the undocumented population of “the world’s borough” in the face of tougher immigration policies.
Earlier this year, President Donald Trump announced plans for stricter immigration policies and groups representing Queens immigrants said that, as a result, they saw outrage spanning across a majority of the borough’s neighborhoods. Representatives from advocacy groups in the borough said they would fight tooth and nail to help prospective citizens get acquainted to their new home, especially in the current political climate.
Queens Borough President’s Office
“The World’s Borough” nickname was popularized by current Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who recently stood alongside activists and advocates at Borough Hall to rally for Queens’ immigrant population. Her office has hosted the Immigration Resource Fair every year since 2014. A spokesman for Katz told the Queens Tribune that the fair is meant to provide one-stop access to dozens of immigration organizations.
Katz has also been at the forefront of bringing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to Jamaica’s Joseph P. Addabbo Federal Building. By opening a field office in the borough, Katz thinks it would make handling issues dealing with immigration less of a burden for low to middle-income families. And Katz also has a borough task force to connect immigrants to the services they need.
“Borough President Katz’s Immigration Task Force, made up of advocates, service providers and local government officials who handle immigrant integration issues, meets regularly to collaborate on ways to better serve New Yorkers,” said Michael Scholl, a spokesman for Katz. “The task force publishes a directory of services that details assistance available to immigrants online.”
The directory’s website can be found at www.queensbp.org/policy/immigrant-and-intercultural-affairs/.
New York Immigration Coalition
The NYIC works primarily as a middleman for city immigrants and the services they require. It works with organizations like the Queens Community House, New Immigrant Community Empowerment and Ming Kwan Center for Community Action on everything from education to legal and health initiatives.
“A lot of the ways in which we get our information to the community is through a program of ours called Key to the City,” NYIC communications manager Thanu Yakupitiyage said. “People can speak to a lawyer, they can get information about financial literacy, speak to a health expert, renew their DACA or general information like what to prepare for given the current political climate.”
Immigration Advocacy Services
Astoria’s Immigration Advocacy Services (IAS) assists immigrants with the legal matters involved in becoming a citizen. The organization’s director, Antonio Meloni, said that immigration is one of the “toughest beasts to dissect.”
“Family based immigration law makes up of 80 percent of immigration related legal matters,” Meloni said. “We do walk-in services. Our employees will work with anyone who needs help.”
For the past 29 years, IAS has offered free consultation to persons needing to settle a variety of immigration related issues in a court of law. IAS works with both legal and illegal immigrants and Meloni said that in the current political climate, it has never been more important to provide such services.