Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, Chair of the Assembly Task Force on New Americans, and Governor Kathy Hochul announced today the launch of New York State’s Institute for Immigrant Integration Research & Policy to help immigrants transition to community life, further education, and the workforce. The Institute, which received funding in the FY 2023 State Budget, will be housed at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, the State University of New York’s public policy think tank. The announcement coincides with the selection of an Advisory Board of community leaders, who will set in motion groundbreaking policy development and select an Executive Director and Assistant Director in the coming months.
Upon arrival, immigrants often struggle to learn English, help their children to assimilate in school, find safe and affordable housing, secure jobs with a livable wage, secure transportation to commute to said jobs, and access available services—often for fear of deportation. The Institute’s Executive Director and Assistant Director will analyze real-time immigration, economic, labor, and other data and identify potential solutions for policymakers to help build on the state’s commitment to supporting immigrants of all ages, nationalities, and backgrounds.
According to the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), 900 refugees and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders resettled in New York State in 2021, primarily from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Afghanistan, and Burma. In the last 12 months, at least 1,300 Afghan evacuees were resettled in NYS as well as recent refugees from the Ukraine.
Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, Chair of the New York State Assembly Task Force on New Americans, said, “I am proud to have led the effort to create this Institute, which will focus on helping better shape policies that will improve the social, economic, and political integration of our state’s large and growing immigrant communities. SUNY's vast resources of talent and experts in related fields is a promise of excellent research and policy recommendations that will improve the lives of all New Yorkers. The strong financial support provided for the Institute by Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie and the Assembly Majority is an enormous step in continuing to ensure New York leads the nation in not just welcoming immigrants but working to ensure they fulfill their American Dream.”
SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley said, “SUNY campuses comprise one of the world’s most diverse learning opportunities, and welcome students from all walks of life, countries, and backgrounds. We are honored to have the Rockefeller Institute of Government house this Institute and facilitate its much-needed work to advance our state’s longstanding commitment to supporting and welcoming immigrants and ensuring their success. I thank Governor Hochul and the Legislature – particularly Assembly Member Catalina Cruz – for filling a critical policy need through the creation of this Institute, and also extend my gratitude to our esteemed advisory board members for their service.”
The Institute’s Advisory Board is a broadly based group of accomplished leaders who bring an array of experiences and relationships, as well as a shared commitment to immigration integration to the Institute’s work. The Advisory Board—which will also provide the Institute with guidance and recommendations with respect to research, programming, fundraising opportunities, and community events—includes:
Wilma Alvarado-Little, MA, MSW, Director of Minority Health and Health Disparities Prevention, NYSDOH
Dr. Laura Anker, Professor, American Studies, SUNY Old Westbury
Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition
Marcos Crespo, Board Trustee, SUNY
Dr. Isaac Ehrlich, Professor, Economics, University at Buffalo
Lucia Gomez, Political Director, New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Laura Gonzalez-Murphy, Executive Director, Office for New Americans, NYS Department of State
Ramona Hernandez, Director of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, CUNY
Paola Martinez, Institute Board Chair, SUNY
Cesar Perales, Board of Trustees Vice Chairman, SUNY
Dr. Dina Refki, Director of the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society, University at Albany
Jennifer Rizzo-Choi, Executive Director, International Institute of Buffalo
Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation