Hillary Clinton Receives Endorsement of New York Immigrant Rights Coalition and Unveils New Policies to Help Immigrant Families

Today in New York, Hillary Clinton received the endorsement from the New York State Immigrant Action Fund, one of the largest immigrant rights groups in New York and the sister organization to the New York Immigration Coalition. Clinton announced that, as president, she would create a new national Office of Immigrant Affairs that will be a pro-active effort to coordinate policies and programs both across federal agencies and with state and local governments.

In addition, Clinton will make key investments to help break down barriers for immigrant families.  As President, Clinton will:

  • Create a national Office of Immigrant Affairs to ensure successful immigrant and refugee integration in every community.  In too many communities, immigrants still face significant language, education, and economic barriers that prevent them from fully adjusting in their new home. Given the cross-cutting nature of immigrant integration policy concerns, Hillary believes it is critical that there be a pro-active effort to coordinate policies and programs across federal agencies and with state and local governments.  In 2014, the Obama Administration announced a Task Force to study integration services and make recommendations for improvements.  Hillary would work to implement the Task Force’s recommendations, and create the first ever federal Office of Immigrant Affairs to ensure there is a dedicated place in the White House where integration services for immigrants and refugees are managed.
  • Support affordable integration services through $15 million in new grant funding for community navigators and similar organizations. Hillary would create a new competitive grant program to supplement current funding streams for naturalization, focusing on building the capacity of organizations in the field to take a naturalization program to scale.  By investing in efforts like Community Navigators, Hillary will ensure that more immigrants can receive the support they need to apply for naturalization or DAPA and DACA, seek out education and workforce training, and navigate their new communities.
  • Significantly increase federal resources for adult English language education and citizenship education. For too many immigrants, accessing affordable and effective English Language Learning resources continues to be a struggle. As president, Hillary will greatly expand the federal resources devoted to adult English language education and citizenship education—ensuring that immigrants, citizenship applicants, parents of schoolchildren, and others, can access the programming they need, whether at community colleges, public libraries, or through new innovative platforms and other community organizations.
  • Promote the benefits of citizenship and eliminate cost barriers to naturalization. There are an estimated 9 million lawful permanent residents (green card holders) in the United States who are eligible to become U.S. citizens. As President, she will work to expand fee waivers and enhance outreach and education on the benefits of citizenship so that more of the working poor can assume the full rights and responsibilities of becoming U.S. citizens.

The transcript of the remarks, as delivered, is below:

“I am absolutely delighted and so honored to be here and I thank Immigrant Action for this endorsement.

But more than that, I thank you for your advocacy, for your strong, consistent voice on behalf of immigrants and immigrants’ families and immigrants’ aspirations. And I enjoyed working with you in the Senate for eight years and if I am so fortunate enough to be President, I would certainly look forward to working with you again.

I want to thank 1199 SEIU for hosting this event here today. They too are strong advocates for the immigrant community and represent many immigrants as well. And it’s always a pleasure to be here with the Speaker. Melissa, as we already said is a strong voice on many things, but has been especially focused on making clear that the elected leadership here in the City of New York, a city built by immigrants in a nation built by immigrants, will always have a strong, consistent representation in our elected officials and thank you so much, Madam Speaker. I also thank you for everything you do, and I want to also thank Assembly Member Michaelle Solages who, I was just told, is the first Haitian American elected in the State Assembly in New York.

I will have the opportunity in a few minutes to hear from our panelists who, as Steven said, represent the immigrant experience in New York. From many parts of the world, first and second generation, they are really on the front lines. So when we talk about what we want to do, they listen. They’re the ones trying to figure out how they’re going to get ahead and stay ahead. They’re going to provide for their children. Their children will get good educations, how they will manage so many of the daily challenges of life as they become a contributing member of our society. I thank each and every one of them for this.

Now, next Monday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in case US v. Texas. There is a lot at stake in this Supreme Court decision. I believe strongly that the President’s action on behalf of DACA and DAPA were rooted in law and precedent, that he was acting in a way consistent with prior judgments and executive actions that they took, both Democrats and Republicans. And I am certainly very hopeful that we will see a positive outcome from this really important decision that many millions of people living in our country are holding their breaths over, because it will have very significant effects in the lives of so many. As Steven said, I wanted to list some of the actions that I intend to take on as president, to further the work that is done by immigrant action, by activists, by elected officials, and immigrants themselves.

The first is naturalization. We currently have nine million people in our country who are eligible for naturalization. They work and pay taxes, but they can’t vote, serve on juries, or even join our military in most instances. Unless they become citizens, they remain at risk of being separated from their own families. But only seven percent of those eligible naturalize every year. It is a broken system. It is easier they believe to stay here on a green card. They’re here legally. They get to work. The hassle of becoming a citizen is sometimes just overwhelming.

We should not have such a series of barriers. I am running this campaign to knock down all the barriers that stand in the way of people getting ahead and staying ahead, and I want to do that when it comes to naturalization. I will work to expand fee waivers so that those seeking naturalization can get a break on the costs. I will step up our outward outreach and education, so more people know their options.

No one who can be a citizen and want to be a citizen should miss out on doing that. So let’s make this a high priority in the next few […].

I also want to do much more to further our goal of integration. Because integration is an issue as Melissa, Michelle, and I and Steven were talking earlier. It’s an issue that cuts across all levels of government, federal, state, and local. I would create the first ever Office of Immigrant Affairs. It would build on the work of the Obama administration’s task force, and create a dedicated place in the White House to coordinate immigration policies across the federal government and with state and local government as well.

We also know that integration begins at the local level. I will provide 15 million dollars in competitive grants to fund efforts like the community navigators, who help guide immigrants through this system and enroll in DACA and DAPA and more. I visited a session of community navigators in Chicago when I was there for the Illinois primary and I was so impressed.

There were people of all ages who were serving as navigators for immigrants to learn how to be naturalized, to learn what they were eligible for and we want to expand that. We will also work hard to provide more support and federal resources to help immigrants learn English-language skills.

That will help them thrive even more. We’ll be working with public libraries, community colleges and other platforms, again, taking our lead from local communities – where are places that will work? I remember visiting the library in Queens in Flushing many years ago. It was packed with people from all over the world looking for information and it is a perfect platform.

That’s where people feel they can go, they believe it’s a trusted platform. Well, we need to propagate those and have more opportunities both for information and for acquiring English-language skills. Now I want to thank Steven for this endorsement, but it was a great privilege to work with Immigrant Action when I was in Senate.

It was a privilege to endorse the DREAM Act every Congress that I served. It was a privilege to vote for what many said was our best chance at passing comprehensive immigration reform in the past: legislation sponsored by the late Senator Ted Kennedy and John McCain that then Republican President Bush promised to sign.

And I will continue to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship, but it’s important that we also stand up against the voices of hate and divisiveness, whether they are in our communities or running for President.

I have said frequently about Donald Trump, Basta, enough prejudice and the bluster and the bigotry and all of the appeals to fear and anxiety and anger. What is great about our country, which is great in so many ways already, is how we work together, how we pull together, how we welcome new people to our shores, new immigrants to our country, our society, our economy and our political system.

So I’m excited and I thank you so much for this endorsement and I really look forward to working with you in the years ahead.

Thank you. Thank you all.”