Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke has welcomed a plan by New York City to aid undocumented Caribbean immigrants.
New York City officials say the city will spend US$18 million to help undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants find jobs.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a mayoral candidate, said the money will fund adult education classes and legal services that the federal government requires immigrants to take to qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project will provide free legal services to immigrants threatened with deportation who are unable to represent themselves in proceedings.
“New York has always been a city of immigrants within a nation of immigrants,” said Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn.
“Under this program, thousands of immigrants in Brooklyn and other parts of the City will finally have an opportunity to challenge the deportation proceedings that separate families and weaken communities,” she added.
“I am proud of New York City for leading the nation in creating this program, which provides an important example for Congress,” Clarke continued. “That is why I continue to encourage the House of Representative to consider a comprehensive immigration reform bill as soon as possible. American families are depending on it.”
“It’s exciting to be the first city in America to make this investment in our young immigrants who, in turn, have so much to offer our city,” said Quinn in a statement.
“We can’t let the opportunity of these federal actions fall short, because we didn’t do what we needed to do,” she added. “We’re talking about children who were brought here by their parents. They’re New Yorkers, for God’s sakes.”
The program permits immigrants to live and work in the U.S., regardless of the outcome of an immigration reform bill currently in the House of Representatives, provided they are between 15 and 31 years old as of June 15, 2012.
Quinn said nearly 80,000 immigrants living in New Yorker are eligible for the deferred action, but she said about 16,000 need to enroll in an adult education program to qualify.
She said New York City will provide US$13.7 million to community-based organizations to conduct outreach and increase class size.
Quinn said an additional US$4.3 million will be awarded to the City University of New York to add seats to classes and increase professional development.