April 16, 2024

Community Justice, Disability Justice, Health Justice, Immigrant Justice, Media Coverage, News, UndocuCare, UndocuCare TGNCI+

Image shows a NYLPI sign on the steps of New York's Tweed Courthouse in Lower Manhattan

Arielle Wisbaum, staff attorney in NYLPI’s UndocuCare TGNCI+ program, submitted testimony to New York City Council Committees regarding access to shelter, health outcomes, and asylum services for Black migrants in New York. She encouraged the Council’s attention to reporting and testimony by Black-led organizations, as well.

On Tuesday April 16, 2024, over 1,000 migrants showed up at City Hall Park to share the challenges they have faced as Black asylum seekers in the shelter system. They came to be seen and have their voices heard as council members, city administrative agencies, and immigration advocates testified inside. Black-led organizations including Afrikana, UndocuBlack, BAJI and local mosques largely housing Black asylum seekers as the city neglects to do so, expressed the realities Black migrants are confronted with after they’ve come to seek refuge in New York: disproportionate eviction rates from shelter, exclusion from employment, and steep language access barriers when navigating housing and healthcare.

Arielle attended the hearing and submitted written testimony to the City of New York Committees on Immigration and Hospitals about tracking inequitable access to shelter, healthcare, immigration legal services, and employment for Black and LGBTQ+ migrants in New York City. The testimony affirmed NYLPI’s support for Int. Nos. 0085-2024, 0084-2024 and 0739-2024, which will increase transparency from city agencies on such inequities through reporting and trendspotting, allowing informed response to areas needing improvement.

“For Black and LGBTQ+ immigrants who are not detained or who are released from detention on bond or parole, immediate connection to supportive services that reduce stigma, safe housing, and experienced immigration legal service providers are crucial to survival and embrace basic human rights. Upon entry to the U.S. or release from immigration detention, LGBTQ+ asylum seekers and those living with HIV may choose New York City as their destination due to its reputation for having LGBTQ+ community support networks and affirming healthcare access. However, several barriers continue to stand in the way of asylum seekers needing this care, including cruel shelter eviction policies or shelter conditions which perpetuate discrimination and harassment against Black and LGBTQ+ migrants, inequitable access to healthcare and health insurance, and staffing and training issues at New York City’s Department of Social Services/Human Resources Administration (HRA). 

New York must act to truly earn its reputation of being a safe place for all LGBTQ+ community members. . . Informed by our clients’ experiences, NYLPI supports legislation that will identify and track access to healthcare, shelter, and immigration legal support for asylum seeking populations—a crucial first step to ensure that when New York City agencies provide such services, they are doing so in an equitable manner that does not leave Black and LGBTQ+ migrants behind.”

Read or download Arielle’s full testimony here.

Learn more about UndocuCare TGNCI+ here

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