New York City Provides US$1.5 Million in Funding to Help Newly-Arrived Haitians

New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Raquel Batista

NEW YORK, New York – New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) Commissioner Raquel Batista on Wednesday announced that the City will provide US$1.5 million in funding to help newly-arrived Haitians in New York access immigration legal assistance and social services.

“This investment is part of the City’s continued commitment in responding to Haiti’s compounding crises over the past few months,” Batista said.

“We are excited to work with CBOs [community-based organizations] staffed by Haitian New Yorkers, and located immediately within our City’s Haitian communities, who provide daily support and services to their fellow community members including those who have recently resettled in New York City.”

J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives, said that while Haitian migrants continue to face an uncertain future, “it is imperative we continue to work with CBOs who have been leaders in helping this community”.

“I am looking forward to how this partnership will help expand the City’s reach to the Haitian community and connect them to critical resources for their resettlement process,” he said.

“As a proud Haitian immigrant, I understand the importance of prioritizing the needs of Haitian asylum seekers.”

Magalie Desroches Austin, senior advisor and director of the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC): “I am glad to see the administration supporting Haitian resettlement services through Haitian run CBOs and hope that more municipalities follow New York City’s lead.”

Batista said that the funds will be distributed to community-based partners that will provide linguistically- and culturally-responsive case management and immigration legal services to newly-arrived Haitian New Yorkers.

She said case managers will work with newly-arrived Haitians to determine eligibility for benefits and connect them to resources and services.

Batista said legal services will include assistance in accessing Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and other humanitarian forms of relief, removal and deportation defense, and immigration legal services capacity-building among local CBOs and pro bono attorneys.

Efforts will also include an anti-fraud and information messaging campaign across community and ethnic media, Batista said.

In recent months, she said there has been a heavy increase in Haitian arrivals to the US due in part to natural disasters and political upheaval in Haiti.

“Many of these new arrivals have resettled in the state of New York, which has the second-largest population of foreign-born Haitians in the United States,” Batista said.

“This investment will provide the supports needed so that community-based partners can help address the critical and social service needs of newly-arrived Haitians and better understand additional challenges anticipated over the coming months.

Haitian American New York City Member Farah Louis told CMC that after travelling across several miles and months to seek refuge in the US, thousands of Haitian New Yorkers need critical resources and supportive services to recover from the emotional, mental and physical toll of this ordeal.

“The allocation of US$1.5 million towards trusted community-based organizations will be instrumental in bolstering the extraordinary work already underway to empower, equip and engage these families,” said the daughter of Haitian immigrants, who represents the predominantly 45th Council District in Brooklyn.

“We are removing societal barriers to legal assistance and social services by working together to ensure that our newest neighbors have a fighting chance to remain in the US, where they can pursue new opportunities and no longer have to live in fear.

Louis thanked Mayor Bill de Blasio, MOIA Commissioner Raquel Batista, and Pastor A.R. Bernard for their support in expanding access to much-needed assistance.

New York State Assembly Member Bichotte Hermelyn, another daughter of Haitian immigrants, who chairs the Brooklyn Democratic Party, said that by providing aid to displaced Haitians who have settled in New York, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs is “demonstrating a commitment not only to racial justice but to human rights”.

“Immigrants built our nation; and, by ensuring they have the resources needed to resettle, we are investing in the future success of our city and state,” said Bichotte Hermelyn, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn. “I look forward to partnering with the organization selected by MOIA and thank the Mayor (Bill de Blasio) for his continued commitment to making our city more just and equitable in our recovery,” she said.