In the Wake of Intensifying Anti-Immigrant Sentiment, New York City Council Passes Resolutions Calling for Federal Action To Welcome and Protect Syrians and Ecuadorians

council member stephen levin
Parbat Chapagai, refugee from Bhutan

Parbat Chapagai, refugee from Bhutan

CITY HALL―Today, the New York City Council passed two resolutions that reject increasingly pervasive anti-immigrant sentiments and called for federal action to support Syrian refugees and individuals displaced by the earthquake in Ecuador.
 
Together, the resolutions deliver a strong message that New York City will continue to welcome all people with compassion, respect, and generosity:

  • Resolution 1105 calls upon the President and the State Department to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. by the end of fiscal year 2016 and to increase such number to 65,000 by the end of fiscal year 2017.
  • Resolution 1103 calls upon the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to designate Ecuador for Temporary Protected Status to provide temporary immigration relief to eligible Ecuadorian nationals in the wake of a devastating earthquake.

“Tens of thousands of Ecuadorians live in the New York metro area, many of them in my district,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. “In Ecuador, many of their families have lost all they own and the country is dealing with overwhelming human and economic costs to rebuilding. I am proud to stand with my colleagues to ask the Department of Homeland Security to grant TPS. New York City should always welcome immigrants and refugees—from Ecuador to Syria—with open arms.”
 
Resolution 1103 was introduced in response to the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that devastated Ecuador on April 16, 2016, leaving 660 people dead and injuring more than 16,000, as well as displacing over 28,000 individuals. Ecuadorians are still recovering from tremendous widespread damage and the government of Ecuador has formally requested TPS for Ecuadorians in the U.S. TPS is a program that allows the government to extend the stay of foreigners whose countries have experienced a natural disaster, conflict, or other urgent need that makes it too dangerous for safe return. New York City is home to nearly 140,000 Ecuadorian immigrants.  
 
 
“In a political climate increasingly hostile to immigrants, we must stand up for the rights and dignity of all people – especially the most vulnerable in our global community,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, co-prime sponsor on Resolution 1105. “Our New York values guide us to reject xenophobia and welcome refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants with open arms because we recognize that our diversity strengthens our City and enables us to flourish. I stand in solidarity with Council Members Menchaca and Ferreras-Copeland to call on the federal government to fulfill and expand our commitments to refugees and immigrants in a spirit of compassion and generosity.”

Resolution 1105 was introduced in response to the five-year civil war in Syria, which has taken an estimated 250,000 lives and has caused more than 11 million people to flee their homes. The current refugee crisis has been called the most complex humanitarian disaster of our time, with Syrians as the world’s largest refugee population under the U.N.’s mandate.

The Council passes this resolution as New York City prepares to host world leaders for a September high-level Summit for Refugees and Migrants where world leaders will discuss an international response to large movements of refugees and migrants now and in the future.

Chair of the Committee on Immigration, Carlos Menchaca said, “Here, in New York City, we must show strong support for immigrants and call on our federal government to take the necessary steps to finally bring comprehensive immigration reform and create more humane laws and policies that treat immigrants with dignity and respect.” 

On Heels of Supreme Court Decision and Rising Global Anti-Immigrant Sentiment, Council Members Unite in Call for Federal Action to Welcome and Protect Syrians, Ecuadorians

Speaker Mark-Viverito, and Council Members Menchaca, Levin, and Ferreras-Copeland called for federal action so support refugees

Speaker Mark-Viverito, and Council Members Menchaca, Levin, and Ferreras-Copeland called for federal action so support refugees

Parbat Chapagai, refugee from Bhutan

Parbat Chapagai, refugee from Bhutan

Today, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Members Carlos Menchaca, Stephen Levin, and Julissa Ferreras-Copeland came together to publicly reject increasingly pervasive anti-immigrant sentiments and called for federal action to support Syrian refugees and individuals displaced by the earthquake in Ecuador.
 
Council Members stood in solidarity with a coalition of resettlement agencies, service providers, advocates, and members of displaced communities, such as refugees and recipients of Temporary Protective Status (TPS). Together, they delivered a strong message that New York City will continue to welcome all people with compassion, respect, and generosity.
 
“Temporary Protective Status (TPS) serves as a critical humanitarian lifeline that will permit those affected by the Ecuadorian earthquake to legally stay and work in the U.S. to sustain themselves and their families,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “In a time where there is disgusting rhetoric about immigrants, along with the rising global xenophobia that has been spreading, now is not the time, for our city nor our nation, to turn our backs on them. With many Syrians fleeing persecution and violence, we are also calling on the U. S. to allow more Syrian refugees into the United States. To continue denying people to want to come here, make a better life for themselves and contribute to our society, goes against the very fabric of what this great country stands for. I urge the Obama administration to act quickly and help these vulnerable groups.”
 
The proposed resolutions to be heard this afternoon by the Committee on Immigration promote a pro-immigrant message of inclusiveness:
 
Resolution 1105 calls upon the President and the State Department to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. by the end of fiscal year 2016 and to increase such number to 65,000 by the end of fiscal year 2017.

Resolution 1103 calls upon the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to designate Ecuador for Temporary Protected Status to provide temporary immigration relief to eligible Ecuadorian nationals in the wake of a devastating earthquake.
 
Resolution 1105 was introduced in response to the five-year civil war in Syria, which has taken an estimated 250,000 lives and has caused more than 11 million people to flee their homes. The U.N. has reported that more than half of Syrian refugees are children under 18 years old, many of whom are separated from their parents and have been out of school for months, if not years. 
 
“In a political climate increasingly hostile to immigrants, we must stand up for the rights and dignity of all people – especially the most vulnerable in our global community,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, co-prime sponsor on Resolution 1105. “Our New York values guide us to reject xenophobia and welcome refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants with open arms because we recognize that our diversity strengthens our City and enables us to flourish. I stand in solidarity with Council Members Menchaca and Ferreras-Copeland to call on the federal government to fulfill and expand our commitments to refugees and immigrants in a spirit of compassion and generosity.”

The current refugee crisis has been called the most complex humanitarian disaster of our time, with Syrians as the world’s largest refugee population under the U.N.’s mandate.

“I hope and I believe that the more we can all do to support and understand the lives of refugees and asylum seekers, the more we can ensure that families like mine can be successful in starting their new lives,” said Parbat Chapagai, a student and refugee from Bhutan.

In this fiscal year, a total of 132 refugees from 19 countries have resettled in New York City.