Since the Big Apple first began growing, immigrants have been a valuable part of New York City. However, not even one of America’s most diverse metropolises, where immigrants make up a third of the population, is immune to the mass distrust of government brewing in Washington D.C. It was this atmosphere of mistrust, or more accurately, a desire to combat it, which prompted the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) and City Council to create the new NYC Immigrant Information Desks.
Described by MOIA acting commissioner Bitta Mostofi as a “one-stop shop” for immigrants and mixed-status families, the NYC Immigration Information Desks should be a first stop for any new in town New Yorkers. Multilingual program managers and “navigators” are on site to help immigrants access resources including immigration legal services, health insurance assistance, workforce development, and more. The desks’ locations—Coney Island, Flushing, and East Harlem—were carefully chosen as birthplaces of the initiative due to their large immigrant populations, meaning each desk visit immerses newcomers in one of New York City’s immigrant communities.
In 2013, New York City’s foreign-born immigrant population reached over 3 million, a number which, like the city’s commitment to keeping its doors open to all, has only grown in recent years. The opening of the NYC Immigrant Information Desks, according to Mostofi, is “another step in making New York City the most immigrant-inclusive city in America.” Thus, despite the anti-immigration rhetoric permeating contemporary political discourse, New York City, it seems, will not only remain a land of the free, but now, of the informed.