Immigration: Challenges Ahead, Solutions On The Horizon

“Queens is an immigrant community,” Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) said.

As of 2012, approximately 27.9 percent of the residents living in Queens identified as Latino. That number has continued to increase. However, many Latinos still face many challenges because of their immigrant status.

According to Moya, “[Queens] is a multicultural place; I represent the most diverse district, with 200 nationalities (Corona, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights). It lends to the great history and it is people from all walks of life that have settled down.”

The road to citizenship can be tough, especially on the Latino community, who may have trouble being able to afford the costs associated with it.

The road to citizenship can be tough, especially on the Latino community, who may have trouble being able to afford the costs associated with it.

Many Latino immigrants reside in the Borough because their families also reside in Queens. However, many Latino immigrants continue to face challenges.

The assemblyman said he is trying to be the solution to many of the problems that Latino immigrants face.
“I have introduced legislation that has protected immigrants,” he said.

Moya is the lead sponsor of the New York State DREAM Act. The DREAM Act is legislation that will help children of undocumented immigrants get funding to go to state colleges. Moya mentioned that he has helped to pass the legislation for the past two years in the Assembly. He was, however, very disappointed with the Senate’s unwillingness to pass the legislation, but hopeful for the next year.

“Although I am deeply disappointed that the DREAM Act failed to become a reality this year, I am heartened by the significant progress we’ve made,” Moya said in a press release. “We were able to secure the unmitigated support of the Assembly two times over, the majority of votes in the Senate, and a firm commitment from the Governor that he will make sure the DREAM Act becomes law next year.”

Moya has also introduced legislation that protects immigrants against employment agencies who exploit them by forcing them to pay money up front without providing them employment. Moreover, he introduced a law which protects Latinos from fatal falls in their work environment. The Assemblyman says that 40 percent of construction workers are Latinos and 74 percent of those who were involved in fatal falls were also Latinos.

“We have been at the forefront of fighting to insure that wage fraud does not continue to happen,” Assemblyman Moya said. “[We] go out to those that are exploiting immigrants in the restaurant industries, [we introduce] legislature to protect the workers.”

The Assemblyman has teamed up with Make the Road New York, an organization that provides immigration services, citizenship services, helping immigrants fill out citizenship forms, practice for exams and represents people that are facing deportation and deferred action application for children.

Daniel Coates, one of the leaders at MRNY said, “There are big challenges that our communities faces. Our members face challenges in a lot of things [from] good jobs, good wages, overcrowding in schools. Tenants are subject to discrimination from their landlords and police discrimination.”

Coates said he believes that another challenge Latino immigrants face is the cost of the naturalization process. Coates says that many people are unable to become naturalized because of the cost, therefore they remain immigrants. The cost of applying to become a U.S. citizen is $680 that consists of $595 application fee and $85 fingerprinting fee.

Coates says a great thing happening is that people will soon be able to receive ID cards. Anyone will be able to receive ID cards regardless of immigration status. Coates says this will help immigrants get jobs, pay for English classes and receive other opportunities that they are not afforded without the card.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced that the Council would vote this week on a plan City Identity Cards. The legislation would allow undocumented immigrants access to a number of key services previously out of reach.

-Esther Shittu