New York City is holding community meetings to help immigrants learn about local programs. The meetings describe police precinct councils, community boards and zoning laws in city neighborhoods. The meetings also tell people about food stamps, discrimination in the workplace and the public schools.
Recent meetings in neighborhoods have been held with Haitians, Bangladeshi, West Africans, Albanians and Mexicans.
The program is called: One N.Y.C., One Nation. Officials say immigrants are sometimes suspicious of local authorities or do not know about city services. It recognizes that many immigrants are not part of the mainstream. The first forums have found many immigrants do not trust the local police, do not talk to their elected officials and cannot find good legal help for their immigration problems.
A New York City official said, “The success of the city will always be dependent on people being a part of their communities. Now more than ever we have to make sure that immigrants trust us.”
In the future, posters and speakers will urge immigrants to become more involved with their children’s schools, to participate in English study programs and to open bank accounts. College readiness seminars and financial literacy sessions will be offered.
More cities and states are now trying to help immigrants become part of the community. This is because congress is not now reforming immigration laws. New York City says it is taking the lead in helping immigrants contribute to and gain from living in the city.
One person said, “As an immigrant, we don’t know our rights, how to get help, who to talk to. You never know when you’re going to need help.”