The New York Immigration Coalition hosted a resource fair Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Flushing YMCA, where local community-based organizations provided resources for health access, education, and public benefits enrollment.
The event was targeted mainly towards assisting residents who only spoke Mandarin or Korean, but assistance was available for people of all backgrounds. The New York Legal Assistance Group was on hand to provide free immigration consultations. Additionally, free food and family essentials were distributed at the event.
According to New York Immigration Coalition Vice President of Policy and Programs Theodore Moore, the organization has been running programs like this for 12 years. He stressed the importance of providing immigrants and their families with essential services that they need, all in one place.
“A lot of times, they would have to travel all over the borough, all over the city, to get all of these services” Moore said. “But here, we have legal services, health services, education, food, all in one place. Personally, it’s just me fulfilling my duties as a New Yorker. New York gives back and this is part of giving back. If there’s people in need, people who need assistance, that’s just our role.”
Moore said the community feedback for holding events like this resource fair has been very positive. He said that in some cases, there have been lines formed that stretch around the block before the resource fair has even begun.
According to Moore, among the more common needs expressed by those who attend events like this are the need for legal services for those going through the deportation process or attempting to naturalize. He also said education services was a big topic, especially when it came to asylum seekers. Additionally, he brought up access to health services as an important issue.
Founded in 1987, the New York Immigration Coalition represents more than 200 immigrant and refugee rights groups across the state. Its membership base includes grassroots and nonprofit community organizations, religious and academic institutions, labor unions and legal and socioeconomic justice organizations. This umbrella policy and advocacy organization establishes a forum for immigrant groups to voice their concerns and provides a platform for collective action to drive positive social change.
The coalition works to transform the lives of all New Yorkers by strengthening and building the power of its members, organizing and educating communities and the public and using their collective voice to advocate for opportunity and justice. The New York Immigration Coalition advocates for laws and policies to improve the lives of immigrants as well as all New Yorkers, particularly those that live in lower income communities.
The New York Immigration Coalition has evolved into a powerful voice of advocacy by spearheading innovative policies, promoting and protecting the rights of immigrant communities, improving newcomer access to services, developing leadership and capacity, expanding civic participation and mobilizing member groups to respond to the fluctuating needs of immigrant communities. They also offer annual workshops and presentations on immigration law and other issues affecting immigrants on a daily basis. The New York Immigration Coalition also provides guidance to community groups, advocates and legal providers on how to better serve constituents.