Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/idnyc 2017-10-24T03:43:56+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Election Commissioner’s Rant Prompts Dispute Over IDNYC and Voter ID in New York 2016-10-13T04:00:00+00:00 2016-10-13T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6572:election-commissioner-s-rant-prompts-dispute-over-idnyc-and-voter-id-in-new-york Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/25921213744_f51332a042_z.jpg" alt="de blasio mccray arrive to vote" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Mayor de Blasio &amp; First Lady McCray arrive to vote (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">City Council Member Joe Borelli, one of three Republicans in the 51-seat City Council, on Tuesday called for a hearing on voter fraud and said that he supports a statewide voter identification law to combat potential fraud. Borelli&rsquo;s calls came after the release of a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=176&amp;v=jUDTcxIqqM0" target="_blank">secretly-recorded video</a> that showed a Democratic Commissioner for the city Board of Elections claiming significant voting fraud and criticizing the city&rsquo;s municipal identification program for contributing to it.</p> <p dir="ltr">Borelli, who sits on the Council&rsquo;s governmental operations committee, which has oversight of the Board of Elections, wrote to committee chair Ben Kallos, a Democrat from Manhattan, requesting the hearing. Kallos told Gotham Gazette on Thursday that he disagrees with Borelli about the need for a state voter identification law and said that he will bring up the fraud allegations by BOE Commissioner Alan Schulkin at an already-planned elections oversight hearing in October.</p> <p dir="ltr">Schulkin&rsquo;s comments and the call for a voter identification law also prompted strong rebukes from the offices of Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.</p> <p dir="ltr">The video in question, first <a href="http://nypost.com/2016/10/11/elections-official-caught-on-video-blasting-de-blasios-id-program/" target="_blank">reported by</a> the New York Post, is the work of Project Veritas, a conservative group that purports to investigate corruption in public institutions through hidden camera exposes. The group&rsquo;s founder, James O&rsquo;Keefe, has a checkered history of using &lsquo;gotcha&rsquo; tactics and manipulated videos to pursue his agenda.</p> <p dir="ltr">In the video, shot by a Project Veritas member at a holiday party hosted by the United Federation of Teachers in December, Schulkin, the Democratic election commissioner from Manhattan, said, &ldquo;I think there is a lot of voter fraud&rdquo; and claimed, falsely, that the city gives away its municipal identification card without any prerequisites. There is also no relationship between the municipal ID and voting in New York.</p> <p dir="ltr">The New York City Board of Elections is composed of a Democratic and Republican commissioner from each of the five boroughs. In the video, Schulkin suggested that IDNYC, the municipal ID card that is a signature accomplishment for both de Blasio and Mark-Viverito, can be used fraudulently, even to cast a vote, and that the law should establish a form of identification for voters.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You know, I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s too much to ask somebody to show some kind of an ID,&rdquo; Schulkin said. Schulkin clarified his remarks to the Post on Monday but did not entirely recant his words. &ldquo;I should have said &lsquo;potential fraud&rsquo; instead of &lsquo;fraud,&rsquo;&rdquo; he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">The de Blasio administration and other local elected officials didn&rsquo;t take kindly to the unsubstantiated claims made by Schulkin or the calls for voter identification.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;These allegations are not only false, they&rsquo;re racist,&rdquo; said Austin Finan, a mayoral spokesperson, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. &ldquo;Voter fraud fear-mongering is a rightwing smokescreen designed to not only disenfranchise the poor and people of color, but thwart efforts to deliver sorely needed electoral reforms in New York and across the country. New Yorkers deserve public officials who are committed to defending democracy, not undermining it.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Another spokesperson pointed out that the municipal ID program has built-in fraud prevention measures and involves layers of screening and authentication. According to the latest quarterly report from September, the program detected 92 instances of suspected fraud and prevented those applications from going through, out of more than 996,000 applications. In another 18 cases, an applicant may have applied with a different name and in a single case, the application documents could not be verified.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Borelli took Schulkin&rsquo;s allegations quite seriously in another way. In <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeBorelliNYC/status/785945655596294149" target="_blank">his letter</a> on Tuesday to Council Member Kallos, Borelli wrote, &ldquo;I believe that we have an obligation to our constituents to do our due diligence and investigate the veracity of these claims as they relate to potential fraudulent activities by perpetrators who fall under the jurisdiction of a city agency.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Saying that he was &ldquo;weary of the potential for fraud that could be committed by those that would abuse this program,&rdquo; Borelli pushed for a hearing where Schulkin should testify. He also said the &ldquo;merits and effectiveness&rdquo; of the IDNYC program should be evaluated to &ldquo;reassure taxpayers that their money is being spent judiciously and with proper oversight.&rdquo; When Gotham Gazette <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax/status/785867588115005440" target="_blank">asked</a> Borelli on Twitter whether he supports a voter identification law for New York, Borelli <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeBorelliNYC/status/785870244837335041" target="_blank">responded</a>, &ldquo;yes, statewide. Would be state law.&rdquo;</p> <p>During a phone interview Thursday evening, Borelli said, &ldquo;I want to remind the administration that this is a Democratic commissioner, and to my knowledge no Republican commissioner has made a claim of voter fraud.&rdquo;&nbsp;&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not sure why there&rsquo;s a hint of protectionism over what this person is saying,&rdquo; Borelli added, noting that "any other allegation of fraud from a commissioner anywhere would be investigated."</p> <p>&ldquo;How often is it you have an agency head saying there is fraud in their own agency and you have people trying to sweep it under the rug?&rdquo; Borelli asked, rhetorically.</p> <p dir="ltr">Any claim that the IDNYC can be used for voter fraud is dubious, since New York State requires no identification to vote except a signature -- something Borelli acknowledged Thursday, saying he is focused on the allegations of voter fraud.</p> <p dir="ltr">Voter identification laws, meanwhile, are almost always controversial and have been the subject of a number of legal battles across the country, particularly in Republican-led states. Those on the left say that there is scant evidence of voter fraud that would necessitate such laws and that such voting requirements tend to keep people of color from voting.</p> <p dir="ltr">A spokesperson for the New York Attorney General&rsquo;s office said in an email, &ldquo;We haven&rsquo;t received reports of widespread voter impersonation fraud discussed in the video.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Kallos told Gotham Gazette he &ldquo;fervently&rdquo; disagrees with Borelli. &ldquo;I do not believe that we need voter identification,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I believe it is a tool used to disenfranchise voters.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Kallos said he was &ldquo;troubled and concerned&rdquo; about Schulkin&rsquo;s comments in the video and would bring the issue up at an oversight hearing already in the works before Borelli sent his letter -- the City Council holds a hearing ahead of election administration.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Everything that was said is troubling,&rdquo; Kallos said of the video, which released the same day that Kallos hosted an IDNYC pop-up registration event on Roosevelt Island. &ldquo;We hope to have oversight of the BOE...to find out what happened, whether any of these views had an impact in the conduct of any of the presidential primary elections or any election since this man has been appointed to the BOE.&rdquo;</p> <p>Borelli wants to drill down on voter fraud. &ldquo;To say there are no individual cases of fraud within the Board of Elections system when we have annual hearings on fraudulent petition signatures would be false,&rdquo; he said Thursday. The Staten Island Council member pointed to discussions across the country about the possible need for voter identification and questioned the matching signatures approach currently used in New York, saying that he's sure there are instances where a voter's signature does not match what is in the sign-in book but the discrepancy is not reported.</p> <p dir="ltr">Kallos said the oversight hearing, which will be held by the end of October, already planned to focus on whether the Board of Elections is prepared for the presidential election on November 8. The agenda will touch upon the state voter file, whether or not voters who were incorrectly purged from the rolls before the April presidential primary had been restored, whether the BOE will have enough people to work on Election Day, and any concerns brought up by Council members, including Borelli.</p> <p>In an emailed statement, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said of the video, &ldquo;These uninformed opinions have no basis in fact.&rdquo; Spokesperson Eric Koch said the speaker does not believe in voter identification laws.</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Reporting contributed by Ben Max.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/25921213744_f51332a042_z.jpg" alt="de blasio mccray arrive to vote" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Mayor de Blasio &amp; First Lady McCray arrive to vote (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">City Council Member Joe Borelli, one of three Republicans in the 51-seat City Council, on Tuesday called for a hearing on voter fraud and said that he supports a statewide voter identification law to combat potential fraud. Borelli&rsquo;s calls came after the release of a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=176&amp;v=jUDTcxIqqM0" target="_blank">secretly-recorded video</a> that showed a Democratic Commissioner for the city Board of Elections claiming significant voting fraud and criticizing the city&rsquo;s municipal identification program for contributing to it.</p> <p dir="ltr">Borelli, who sits on the Council&rsquo;s governmental operations committee, which has oversight of the Board of Elections, wrote to committee chair Ben Kallos, a Democrat from Manhattan, requesting the hearing. Kallos told Gotham Gazette on Thursday that he disagrees with Borelli about the need for a state voter identification law and said that he will bring up the fraud allegations by BOE Commissioner Alan Schulkin at an already-planned elections oversight hearing in October.</p> <p dir="ltr">Schulkin&rsquo;s comments and the call for a voter identification law also prompted strong rebukes from the offices of Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.</p> <p dir="ltr">The video in question, first <a href="http://nypost.com/2016/10/11/elections-official-caught-on-video-blasting-de-blasios-id-program/" target="_blank">reported by</a> the New York Post, is the work of Project Veritas, a conservative group that purports to investigate corruption in public institutions through hidden camera exposes. The group&rsquo;s founder, James O&rsquo;Keefe, has a checkered history of using &lsquo;gotcha&rsquo; tactics and manipulated videos to pursue his agenda.</p> <p dir="ltr">In the video, shot by a Project Veritas member at a holiday party hosted by the United Federation of Teachers in December, Schulkin, the Democratic election commissioner from Manhattan, said, &ldquo;I think there is a lot of voter fraud&rdquo; and claimed, falsely, that the city gives away its municipal identification card without any prerequisites. There is also no relationship between the municipal ID and voting in New York.</p> <p dir="ltr">The New York City Board of Elections is composed of a Democratic and Republican commissioner from each of the five boroughs. In the video, Schulkin suggested that IDNYC, the municipal ID card that is a signature accomplishment for both de Blasio and Mark-Viverito, can be used fraudulently, even to cast a vote, and that the law should establish a form of identification for voters.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You know, I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s too much to ask somebody to show some kind of an ID,&rdquo; Schulkin said. Schulkin clarified his remarks to the Post on Monday but did not entirely recant his words. &ldquo;I should have said &lsquo;potential fraud&rsquo; instead of &lsquo;fraud,&rsquo;&rdquo; he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">The de Blasio administration and other local elected officials didn&rsquo;t take kindly to the unsubstantiated claims made by Schulkin or the calls for voter identification.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;These allegations are not only false, they&rsquo;re racist,&rdquo; said Austin Finan, a mayoral spokesperson, in a statement to Gotham Gazette. &ldquo;Voter fraud fear-mongering is a rightwing smokescreen designed to not only disenfranchise the poor and people of color, but thwart efforts to deliver sorely needed electoral reforms in New York and across the country. New Yorkers deserve public officials who are committed to defending democracy, not undermining it.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Another spokesperson pointed out that the municipal ID program has built-in fraud prevention measures and involves layers of screening and authentication. According to the latest quarterly report from September, the program detected 92 instances of suspected fraud and prevented those applications from going through, out of more than 996,000 applications. In another 18 cases, an applicant may have applied with a different name and in a single case, the application documents could not be verified.</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Borelli took Schulkin&rsquo;s allegations quite seriously in another way. In <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeBorelliNYC/status/785945655596294149" target="_blank">his letter</a> on Tuesday to Council Member Kallos, Borelli wrote, &ldquo;I believe that we have an obligation to our constituents to do our due diligence and investigate the veracity of these claims as they relate to potential fraudulent activities by perpetrators who fall under the jurisdiction of a city agency.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Saying that he was &ldquo;weary of the potential for fraud that could be committed by those that would abuse this program,&rdquo; Borelli pushed for a hearing where Schulkin should testify. He also said the &ldquo;merits and effectiveness&rdquo; of the IDNYC program should be evaluated to &ldquo;reassure taxpayers that their money is being spent judiciously and with proper oversight.&rdquo; When Gotham Gazette <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax/status/785867588115005440" target="_blank">asked</a> Borelli on Twitter whether he supports a voter identification law for New York, Borelli <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeBorelliNYC/status/785870244837335041" target="_blank">responded</a>, &ldquo;yes, statewide. Would be state law.&rdquo;</p> <p>During a phone interview Thursday evening, Borelli said, &ldquo;I want to remind the administration that this is a Democratic commissioner, and to my knowledge no Republican commissioner has made a claim of voter fraud.&rdquo;&nbsp;&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not sure why there&rsquo;s a hint of protectionism over what this person is saying,&rdquo; Borelli added, noting that "any other allegation of fraud from a commissioner anywhere would be investigated."</p> <p>&ldquo;How often is it you have an agency head saying there is fraud in their own agency and you have people trying to sweep it under the rug?&rdquo; Borelli asked, rhetorically.</p> <p dir="ltr">Any claim that the IDNYC can be used for voter fraud is dubious, since New York State requires no identification to vote except a signature -- something Borelli acknowledged Thursday, saying he is focused on the allegations of voter fraud.</p> <p dir="ltr">Voter identification laws, meanwhile, are almost always controversial and have been the subject of a number of legal battles across the country, particularly in Republican-led states. Those on the left say that there is scant evidence of voter fraud that would necessitate such laws and that such voting requirements tend to keep people of color from voting.</p> <p dir="ltr">A spokesperson for the New York Attorney General&rsquo;s office said in an email, &ldquo;We haven&rsquo;t received reports of widespread voter impersonation fraud discussed in the video.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Council Member Kallos told Gotham Gazette he &ldquo;fervently&rdquo; disagrees with Borelli. &ldquo;I do not believe that we need voter identification,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I believe it is a tool used to disenfranchise voters.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">Kallos said he was &ldquo;troubled and concerned&rdquo; about Schulkin&rsquo;s comments in the video and would bring the issue up at an oversight hearing already in the works before Borelli sent his letter -- the City Council holds a hearing ahead of election administration.</p> <p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Everything that was said is troubling,&rdquo; Kallos said of the video, which released the same day that Kallos hosted an IDNYC pop-up registration event on Roosevelt Island. &ldquo;We hope to have oversight of the BOE...to find out what happened, whether any of these views had an impact in the conduct of any of the presidential primary elections or any election since this man has been appointed to the BOE.&rdquo;</p> <p>Borelli wants to drill down on voter fraud. &ldquo;To say there are no individual cases of fraud within the Board of Elections system when we have annual hearings on fraudulent petition signatures would be false,&rdquo; he said Thursday. The Staten Island Council member pointed to discussions across the country about the possible need for voter identification and questioned the matching signatures approach currently used in New York, saying that he's sure there are instances where a voter's signature does not match what is in the sign-in book but the discrepancy is not reported.</p> <p dir="ltr">Kallos said the oversight hearing, which will be held by the end of October, already planned to focus on whether the Board of Elections is prepared for the presidential election on November 8. The agenda will touch upon the state voter file, whether or not voters who were incorrectly purged from the rolls before the April presidential primary had been restored, whether the BOE will have enough people to work on Election Day, and any concerns brought up by Council members, including Borelli.</p> <p>In an emailed statement, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said of the video, &ldquo;These uninformed opinions have no basis in fact.&rdquo; Spokesperson Eric Koch said the speaker does not believe in voter identification laws.</p> <p>

***
by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Reporting contributed by Ben Max.</p>
A Budget for the City of Immigrants 2016-05-24T15:21:53+00:00 2016-05-24T15:21:53+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6353:a-budget-for-the-city-of-immigrants Aaron Holmes <p>&nbsp;<img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2015/adult-lit-classes-12.jpg" width="600" height="450" alt="adult lit classes 12" /></p> <p>Students of an adult literacy class (photo: Make the Road New York)</p> <hr /> <p>In recent years, New York City has taken major strides forward in its engagement with immigrant communities. Under the leadership of Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and the Council as a whole, our city has adopted and invested in new initiatives to welcome and protect immigrants and embrace their tremendous economic, cultural, and political contributions.</p> <p>Now, with the 2017 budget process in final negotiations, our leaders have a key opportunity to further address the barriers to opportunity and equity that immigrant communities continue to face. That’s why today, five leading immigrant organizations are releasing a new report, “<a href="http://www.maketheroad.org/report.php?ID=4279" target="_blank">A Budget for the City of Immigrants</a>,” which identifies key policy areas in which immigrant communities need further investment.</p> <p>Despite path-breaking initiatives like IDNYC (the municipal identification card program), ActionNYC (one of the nation’s first large-scale municipal navigation and outreach programs to connect people to free immigration legal screenings), and the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (the nation’s first program to guarantee counsel to low-income immigrants facing deportation), immigrants still face enormous challenges in accessing public services, getting the support to succeed in the workforce, and being informed of their rights.</p> <p>The new report highlights key priorities across various issue areas, ranging from adult education to youth programs to health care access, but a few priorities bear particular mention.</p> <p>First, our City must expand its investment in adult literacy to a baselined $16 million per year.</p> <p>Adult newcomers who have come here to work and support their families often struggle with limited English proficiency (LEP). Despite enormous demand for adult literacy classes, supply has lagged—less than three percent of those in need can access community-based adult education programs. A recent Make the Road New York and Center for Popular Democracy report, “<a href="http://www.maketheroad.org/report.php?ID=4259" target="_blank">Teaching Toward Equity</a>: The Importance of English Classes to Reducing Economic Inequality in New York,” highlights how meeting the language needs of LEP New Yorkers would both further immigrant integration and generate billions of dollars in new earnings. New York City can lead again by making sure that adult immigrants can learn English and develop the tools they need to thrive.</p> <p>Second, our city must direct $13.5 million for immigration legal services for complex cases.</p> <p>Currently, New York City provides few resources for complex immigration legal cases where an individual is facing imminent deportation yet cannot be served under most existing funding streams. This leaves thousands of immigrants on waiting lists. A survey by the New York Immigration Coalition of the city's legal services providers noted that 60% of immigrants seeking their services had complex cases that need intensive representation. Further resources must focus on these complex immigration cases—especially for families who are on the verge of being torn apart without adequate legal representation.</p> <p>Third, our city must expand its investment in Access Health NYC to $5 million.</p> <p>This new City Council initiative has shown tremendous promise by working with community organizations like the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families to educate immigrants about health care options and enroll them for coverage, wherever possible. Health care access is another area where our city has shown leadership, and it should expand its commitment in this budget year.</p> <p>Fourth, our city must move forward with the investment of $868 million in capital funding for the construction of new classrooms and schools to combat overcrowding and pursue additional means to meet the more than 100,000 school seats needed citywide.</p> <p>The 2017 budget must include strong investment to address this widespread problem, while our leaders explore further action in future years to fix it once and for all.</p> <p>Finally, New York City must take further steps to strengthen the landscape of grassroots, immigrant-led nonprofit organizations that are the backbone of our communities yet often struggle, as the Asian American Federation and the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies have noted, to operate on a level playing field with larger organizations.</p> <p>By increasing the Nonprofit Stabilization Fund to $5 million and amending municipal contracting policies to open new opportunities for these smaller organizations, the city can go a long way to strengthening immigrant communities as well.</p> <p>The priorities outlined in A Budget for the City of Immigrants, of which these are just a few, show concrete opportunities to consolidate the progress our city has made with respect to immigrant communities and ensure that we continue to move forward. With immigrant communities at the heart of our global city, we must use this budget cycle to continue to lead the way in welcoming and protecting immigrants.</p> <p>What is good for immigrant communities is good for New York City, the city of immigrants.</p> <p>***<br /><em>Javier H. Valdés is the Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. Steve Choi is the Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. On Twitter: <a href="http://twitter.com/maketheroadny" target="_blank">@MaketheRoadNY</a> &amp; <a href="http://twitter.com/thenyic" target="_blank">@thenyic</a>.</em></p> <p>

***
Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
<p>&nbsp;<img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2015/adult-lit-classes-12.jpg" width="600" height="450" alt="adult lit classes 12" /></p> <p>Students of an adult literacy class (photo: Make the Road New York)</p> <hr /> <p>In recent years, New York City has taken major strides forward in its engagement with immigrant communities. Under the leadership of Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and the Council as a whole, our city has adopted and invested in new initiatives to welcome and protect immigrants and embrace their tremendous economic, cultural, and political contributions.</p> <p>Now, with the 2017 budget process in final negotiations, our leaders have a key opportunity to further address the barriers to opportunity and equity that immigrant communities continue to face. That’s why today, five leading immigrant organizations are releasing a new report, “<a href="http://www.maketheroad.org/report.php?ID=4279" target="_blank">A Budget for the City of Immigrants</a>,” which identifies key policy areas in which immigrant communities need further investment.</p> <p>Despite path-breaking initiatives like IDNYC (the municipal identification card program), ActionNYC (one of the nation’s first large-scale municipal navigation and outreach programs to connect people to free immigration legal screenings), and the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (the nation’s first program to guarantee counsel to low-income immigrants facing deportation), immigrants still face enormous challenges in accessing public services, getting the support to succeed in the workforce, and being informed of their rights.</p> <p>The new report highlights key priorities across various issue areas, ranging from adult education to youth programs to health care access, but a few priorities bear particular mention.</p> <p>First, our City must expand its investment in adult literacy to a baselined $16 million per year.</p> <p>Adult newcomers who have come here to work and support their families often struggle with limited English proficiency (LEP). Despite enormous demand for adult literacy classes, supply has lagged—less than three percent of those in need can access community-based adult education programs. A recent Make the Road New York and Center for Popular Democracy report, “<a href="http://www.maketheroad.org/report.php?ID=4259" target="_blank">Teaching Toward Equity</a>: The Importance of English Classes to Reducing Economic Inequality in New York,” highlights how meeting the language needs of LEP New Yorkers would both further immigrant integration and generate billions of dollars in new earnings. New York City can lead again by making sure that adult immigrants can learn English and develop the tools they need to thrive.</p> <p>Second, our city must direct $13.5 million for immigration legal services for complex cases.</p> <p>Currently, New York City provides few resources for complex immigration legal cases where an individual is facing imminent deportation yet cannot be served under most existing funding streams. This leaves thousands of immigrants on waiting lists. A survey by the New York Immigration Coalition of the city's legal services providers noted that 60% of immigrants seeking their services had complex cases that need intensive representation. Further resources must focus on these complex immigration cases—especially for families who are on the verge of being torn apart without adequate legal representation.</p> <p>Third, our city must expand its investment in Access Health NYC to $5 million.</p> <p>This new City Council initiative has shown tremendous promise by working with community organizations like the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families to educate immigrants about health care options and enroll them for coverage, wherever possible. Health care access is another area where our city has shown leadership, and it should expand its commitment in this budget year.</p> <p>Fourth, our city must move forward with the investment of $868 million in capital funding for the construction of new classrooms and schools to combat overcrowding and pursue additional means to meet the more than 100,000 school seats needed citywide.</p> <p>The 2017 budget must include strong investment to address this widespread problem, while our leaders explore further action in future years to fix it once and for all.</p> <p>Finally, New York City must take further steps to strengthen the landscape of grassroots, immigrant-led nonprofit organizations that are the backbone of our communities yet often struggle, as the Asian American Federation and the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies have noted, to operate on a level playing field with larger organizations.</p> <p>By increasing the Nonprofit Stabilization Fund to $5 million and amending municipal contracting policies to open new opportunities for these smaller organizations, the city can go a long way to strengthening immigrant communities as well.</p> <p>The priorities outlined in A Budget for the City of Immigrants, of which these are just a few, show concrete opportunities to consolidate the progress our city has made with respect to immigrant communities and ensure that we continue to move forward. With immigrant communities at the heart of our global city, we must use this budget cycle to continue to lead the way in welcoming and protecting immigrants.</p> <p>What is good for immigrant communities is good for New York City, the city of immigrants.</p> <p>***<br /><em>Javier H. Valdés is the Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. Steve Choi is the Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. On Twitter: <a href="http://twitter.com/maketheroadny" target="_blank">@MaketheRoadNY</a> &amp; <a href="http://twitter.com/thenyic" target="_blank">@thenyic</a>.</em></p> <p>

***
Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
The Next Step to Helping Immigrant Families Thrive 2016-03-28T16:40:48+00:00 2016-03-28T16:40:48+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6247:the-next-step-to-helping-immigrant-families-thrive Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/menchaca_idnyc.jpg" alt="menchaca idnyc" height="472" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Council Member Menchaca, a co-author, promotes IDNYC (photo: @IDNYC)</span></p> <hr /> <p>In recent years, New York City has taken tremendous strides forward in supporting immigrants. Many of Mayor de Blasio's signature initiatives—particularly universal pre-kindergarten (UPK), IDNYC, and community schools—have offered vital new services to New Yorkers across the city that have been tremendously beneficial for immigrants seeking to fully integrate themselves into our society and see their families thrive.</p> <p>Now, there's another critical step that New York City can take to build on these immigrant integration successes: investing in adult education.</p> <p>New York City has the largest immigrant community of any city in the United States, with three million immigrants from all over the world—that's more than the entire population of Chicago. Immigrants help drive our city—accounting for 45 percent of the workforce and 49 percent of small business owners, and endowing the Big Apple with much of its incredible cultural vibrancy.</p> <p>New York City has led the way in offering vital services to immigrant communities, in particular to children from immigrant households. But it's critical that we now move forward to ensure that immigrant parents are equally equipped to take advantage of new path-breaking city programs, and that means supporting adult literacy initiatives that help immigrant New Yorkers learn English and ensure basic reading and writing skills.</p> <p>Adult literacy is crucial for helping parents know how to navigate the city and unlock the power of major policy achievements. To make UPK, IDNYC, and community schools live up to their potential, for example, we need to make sure parents are equipped with the tools they need to access them. English-speaking parents have a much easier time ensuring their children's educational success—for example, by being able to fully engage during parent-teacher meetings—and being able to proactively seek out the indispensable services provided at community schools.</p> <p>Adult literacy is necessary for our immigrant communities, and more broadly, it's important for the economic well-being of our city. As <a href="https://populardemocracy.org/news/publications/teaching-toward-equity" target="_blank">a new report</a> by the Center for Popular Democracy and Make the Road New York has found, directing additional resources toward adult literacy will raise immigrant New Yorkers' wages and increase tax revenues.</p> <p>Take the example of Yanilda, a Dominican immigrant enrolled in English classes at Make the Road New York in Bushwick. Since beginning her classes, Yanilda notes, "I can help my niece with her homework. She's in kindergarten now and when I help her read her books, I learn too." Yanilda is also confident that her steadily improving English will help her get a better job. For her and thousands of others citywide who are lucky enough to have a spot in a free English class, adult literacy programs offer a win-win.</p> <p>There are 1.7 million and 2.3 million Limited-English proficient residents like Yanilda, in New York City and New York State, respectively, according to the Census, and many others in need of basic literacy courses. Within immigrant communities there is a tremendous unmet need for English classes and adult basic education, with state funding now only sufficient to accommodate one of every 39 New Yorkers who need ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) classes. Simply put, adult literacy funding has not kept pace with the need.</p> <p>That's why we need New York City to dedicate $16 million in its upcoming budget to new investments to help 13,300 students access adult literacy programs, including ESOL, Basic Education in Native Language (BENL), Adult Basic Education (ABE), and High School Equivalency Preparation (HSE).</p> <p>We've made so much progress in expanding services to immigrant New Yorkers since Mayor de Blasio took office. It's time for New York City to take the next step in full immigrant integration by investing in adult literacy.</p> <p>***<br />Carlos Menchaca is a member of the New York City Council. Theo Oshiro is the Deputy Director Make the Road New York. On Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/cmenchaca" target="_blank">@cmenchaca</a>&nbsp;&amp;&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/MaketheRoadNY" target="_blank">@maketheroadny</a>.</p> <p>

***
Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/menchaca_idnyc.jpg" alt="menchaca idnyc" height="472" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Council Member Menchaca, a co-author, promotes IDNYC (photo: @IDNYC)</span></p> <hr /> <p>In recent years, New York City has taken tremendous strides forward in supporting immigrants. Many of Mayor de Blasio's signature initiatives—particularly universal pre-kindergarten (UPK), IDNYC, and community schools—have offered vital new services to New Yorkers across the city that have been tremendously beneficial for immigrants seeking to fully integrate themselves into our society and see their families thrive.</p> <p>Now, there's another critical step that New York City can take to build on these immigrant integration successes: investing in adult education.</p> <p>New York City has the largest immigrant community of any city in the United States, with three million immigrants from all over the world—that's more than the entire population of Chicago. Immigrants help drive our city—accounting for 45 percent of the workforce and 49 percent of small business owners, and endowing the Big Apple with much of its incredible cultural vibrancy.</p> <p>New York City has led the way in offering vital services to immigrant communities, in particular to children from immigrant households. But it's critical that we now move forward to ensure that immigrant parents are equally equipped to take advantage of new path-breaking city programs, and that means supporting adult literacy initiatives that help immigrant New Yorkers learn English and ensure basic reading and writing skills.</p> <p>Adult literacy is crucial for helping parents know how to navigate the city and unlock the power of major policy achievements. To make UPK, IDNYC, and community schools live up to their potential, for example, we need to make sure parents are equipped with the tools they need to access them. English-speaking parents have a much easier time ensuring their children's educational success—for example, by being able to fully engage during parent-teacher meetings—and being able to proactively seek out the indispensable services provided at community schools.</p> <p>Adult literacy is necessary for our immigrant communities, and more broadly, it's important for the economic well-being of our city. As <a href="https://populardemocracy.org/news/publications/teaching-toward-equity" target="_blank">a new report</a> by the Center for Popular Democracy and Make the Road New York has found, directing additional resources toward adult literacy will raise immigrant New Yorkers' wages and increase tax revenues.</p> <p>Take the example of Yanilda, a Dominican immigrant enrolled in English classes at Make the Road New York in Bushwick. Since beginning her classes, Yanilda notes, "I can help my niece with her homework. She's in kindergarten now and when I help her read her books, I learn too." Yanilda is also confident that her steadily improving English will help her get a better job. For her and thousands of others citywide who are lucky enough to have a spot in a free English class, adult literacy programs offer a win-win.</p> <p>There are 1.7 million and 2.3 million Limited-English proficient residents like Yanilda, in New York City and New York State, respectively, according to the Census, and many others in need of basic literacy courses. Within immigrant communities there is a tremendous unmet need for English classes and adult basic education, with state funding now only sufficient to accommodate one of every 39 New Yorkers who need ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) classes. Simply put, adult literacy funding has not kept pace with the need.</p> <p>That's why we need New York City to dedicate $16 million in its upcoming budget to new investments to help 13,300 students access adult literacy programs, including ESOL, Basic Education in Native Language (BENL), Adult Basic Education (ABE), and High School Equivalency Preparation (HSE).</p> <p>We've made so much progress in expanding services to immigrant New Yorkers since Mayor de Blasio took office. It's time for New York City to take the next step in full immigrant integration by investing in adult literacy.</p> <p>***<br />Carlos Menchaca is a member of the New York City Council. Theo Oshiro is the Deputy Director Make the Road New York. On Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/cmenchaca" target="_blank">@cmenchaca</a>&nbsp;&amp;&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/MaketheRoadNY" target="_blank">@maketheroadny</a>.</p> <p>

***
Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
New Data Indicates IDNYC Popularity Among Immigrants 2016-01-14T00:15:25+00:00 2016-01-14T00:15:25+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6085:new-data-indicates-idnyc-popularity-among-immigrants Carmen Russo <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/idny_bdb_mmv_museum.jpg" alt="idny bdb mmv museum" height="398" width="600" /></p> <p>The Mayor &amp; others flash their IDNYC (photo: Madeleine Ball)</p> <hr /> <p>It has been one year since New York City launched its ambitious municipal identification program, dubbed IDNYC, and reports show that the program has been a resounding success. More than 725,000 card applications have been approved, about 10 percent of the eligible population of New Yorkers 14 years of age or older.</p> <p>One of the primary purposes of the program is to provide valid identification for undocumented immigrants living in New York City, of which there are <a href="http://www.latinpost.com/articles/32277/20150116/top-counties-high-undocumented-immigrants-concentration.htm" target="_blank">an estimated</a> 640,000. By the very nature of the program -- accepting applications regardless of immigration status and not asking about it on application forms -- quantifying enrollment among undocumented immigrants is hard, if not impossible. But, as the success of the card has led to its celebration and assumptions that undocumented New Yorkers are taking advantage of the program, there is indeed evidence that the de Blasio administration and advocates point to.</p> <p>Ancillary data provided to Gotham Gazette by the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, which is one of the agencies leading implementation of IDNYC, indicates that immigrants in large numbers have availed of the program.</p> <p>By the end of last year, 732,630 people had applied for the ID, with a high ratio of enrollment coming from immigrant-rich communities across the five boroughs. In Queens, 25,366 identity cards were issued in Corona, another 28,707 in Flushing and 13,654 in Jackson Heights. In Sunset Park, Brooklyn, 22,139 people were issued IDNYC. In Manhattan, 10,142 Chinatown residents and 27,213 people from Washington Heights enrolled in the program.</p> <p>In providing further indication of interest from immigrant New Yorkers, MOIA reported that 52 percent of IDNYC inquiries to the city's 311 helpline were from non-English speakers. Of these, 88 percent spoke Spanish, 4.6 percent spoke Mandarin, followed in turn by Cantonese, Russian, Korean, and at least nine other languages.</p> <p>"We knew there was a huge need for identification but the dramatic response was more than we expected," said MOIA Commissioner Nisha Agarwal in an interview. "This indirect data suggests that immigrants are benefitting from it."</p> <p>Non-profit organizations that work with immigrants agree that IDNYC has been an unqualified success. "If hundreds of thousands of people are getting the IDs, you can imagine that tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants are getting it," said Thanu Yakupitiyage, communications manager for the New York Immigration Coalition. NYIC is an umbrella advocacy organization that works with more than 200 groups across the city helping immigrants and refugees.</p> <p>"Immigrants now feel that they're part of the city in a meaningful way," said Yakupitiyage. "For immigrants, the IDNYC is supporting police-community relations. They can now enter municipal and federal buildings, sign a lease and get a bank account. It's a badge of being a New Yorker." She also cited the program's unprecedented success compared to other municipal identification initiatives elsewhere in the country, such as San Francisco, where enrollment in the first year only touched about two percent.</p> <p>Other groups tell similar stories. Jose Calderon, president of the Hispanic Federation, said that thousands of the people they serve have received the identity cards and now feel a sense of safety and security from it. "It's changed lives in ways that it's hard to quantify, but it's transformative," he said. "It has opened up a new city to people who for decades, even generations have been denied it."</p> <p>Calderon said the next step forward would be ensuring that immigrants can receive all the benefits of the card. "We're hoping this ID creates a bridge between the financial sector and this largely unbanked community," he said. "The hope is to make that connection that's long been missing."</p> <p>This will take some work. Major banks operating in New York <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/24/business/dealbook/banks-reject-new-york-city-ids-leaving-unbanked-on-sidelines.html" target="_blank">recently announced</a> that they would not be accepting IDNYC as a primary source of identification in opening a bank account. This was met with disappointment by leading elected officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller SCott Stringer, and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. Amalgamated Bank, among about a dozen financial institutions operating about 75 branches across the city, does accept IDNYC for banking purposes.</p> <p>In announcing an expanded year two for IDNYC in December, de Blasio called it "the leading municipal identification program in the country, and an example to cities all across the world."</p> <p>In a statement at the time, Mark-Viverito pointed to access for all, saying, "No matter your status, whether it's immigrant, economic, financial, or if you're homeless or transgender, New Yorkers will be able to take advantage of benefits by signing up for this valuable card."</p> <p>Make the Road New York's co-executive director, Javier Valdes, called IDNYC a "homerun." He said it provides immigrants security and alleviates the anxiety in interactions with the police. His main concern is related to banking, he said.</p> <p>Valdes also hoped that the program stays affordable. "It's going to be free for the second year as well, which I think should be done in perpetuity," he said. There had been some speculation that the card would cost around ten dollars in the second year, but the city announced it would remain free and that there were enhanced benefits, continuing its efforts to make the card appealing to all New Yorkers.</p> <p>Besides keeping IDNYC free of cost, the city has already announced partnerships with more cultural institutions for 2016, bringing the total to more than 40 museums and other organizations. The IDNYC also provides discounts on pet adoptions, the New York Theatre Ballet, soccer matches of New York Football Club, and CitiBike memberships, among other benefits.</p> <p>For MOIA's Agarwal, the next big step is increasing outreach efforts, particularly in immigrant communities. Last year, IDNYC held pop-up enrollments in 53 locations and the outreach team attended at least 1,700 community events, besides its massive advertising campaign. Agarwal said they would set up more pop-up enrollment centers and also look into bringing art and culture to the program with the help of an artist-in-residence at MOIA.</p> <p>"We're exploring the next generation of IDNYC enrollment," she said. Her focus will be reaching out to vulnerable groups such as youth populations (Last year, 21,239 minors received the card) and using more portable technology to work with seniors while making it easier to connect the card with city services.</p> <p>"I think it unifies our city," said Valdes from Make the Road NY, "regardless of who you are, where you live or where you're from."</p> <p>***<br />by Samar Khurshid, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/samarkhurshid" target="_blank">@samarkhurshid</a>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/idny_bdb_mmv_museum.jpg" alt="idny bdb mmv museum" height="398" width="600" /></p> <p>The Mayor &amp; others flash their IDNYC (photo: Madeleine Ball)</p> <hr /> <p>It has been one year since New York City launched its ambitious municipal identification program, dubbed IDNYC, and reports show that the program has been a resounding success. More than 725,000 card applications have been approved, about 10 percent of the eligible population of New Yorkers 14 years of age or older.</p> <p>One of the primary purposes of the program is to provide valid identification for undocumented immigrants living in New York City, of which there are <a href="http://www.latinpost.com/articles/32277/20150116/top-counties-high-undocumented-immigrants-concentration.htm" target="_blank">an estimated</a> 640,000. By the very nature of the program -- accepting applications regardless of immigration status and not asking about it on application forms -- quantifying enrollment among undocumented immigrants is hard, if not impossible. But, as the success of the card has led to its celebration and assumptions that undocumented New Yorkers are taking advantage of the program, there is indeed evidence that the de Blasio administration and advocates point to.</p> <p>Ancillary data provided to Gotham Gazette by the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, which is one of the agencies leading implementation of IDNYC, indicates that immigrants in large numbers have availed of the program.</p> <p>By the end of last year, 732,630 people had applied for the ID, with a high ratio of enrollment coming from immigrant-rich communities across the five boroughs. In Queens, 25,366 identity cards were issued in Corona, another 28,707 in Flushing and 13,654 in Jackson Heights. In Sunset Park, Brooklyn, 22,139 people were issued IDNYC. In Manhattan, 10,142 Chinatown residents and 27,213 people from Washington Heights enrolled in the program.</p> <p>In providing further indication of interest from immigrant New Yorkers, MOIA reported that 52 percent of IDNYC inquiries to the city's 311 helpline were from non-English speakers. Of these, 88 percent spoke Spanish, 4.6 percent spoke Mandarin, followed in turn by Cantonese, Russian, Korean, and at least nine other languages.</p> <p>"We knew there was a huge need for identification but the dramatic response was more than we expected," said MOIA Commissioner Nisha Agarwal in an interview. "This indirect data suggests that immigrants are benefitting from it."</p> <p>Non-profit organizations that work with immigrants agree that IDNYC has been an unqualified success. "If hundreds of thousands of people are getting the IDs, you can imagine that tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants are getting it," said Thanu Yakupitiyage, communications manager for the New York Immigration Coalition. NYIC is an umbrella advocacy organization that works with more than 200 groups across the city helping immigrants and refugees.</p> <p>"Immigrants now feel that they're part of the city in a meaningful way," said Yakupitiyage. "For immigrants, the IDNYC is supporting police-community relations. They can now enter municipal and federal buildings, sign a lease and get a bank account. It's a badge of being a New Yorker." She also cited the program's unprecedented success compared to other municipal identification initiatives elsewhere in the country, such as San Francisco, where enrollment in the first year only touched about two percent.</p> <p>Other groups tell similar stories. Jose Calderon, president of the Hispanic Federation, said that thousands of the people they serve have received the identity cards and now feel a sense of safety and security from it. "It's changed lives in ways that it's hard to quantify, but it's transformative," he said. "It has opened up a new city to people who for decades, even generations have been denied it."</p> <p>Calderon said the next step forward would be ensuring that immigrants can receive all the benefits of the card. "We're hoping this ID creates a bridge between the financial sector and this largely unbanked community," he said. "The hope is to make that connection that's long been missing."</p> <p>This will take some work. Major banks operating in New York <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/24/business/dealbook/banks-reject-new-york-city-ids-leaving-unbanked-on-sidelines.html" target="_blank">recently announced</a> that they would not be accepting IDNYC as a primary source of identification in opening a bank account. This was met with disappointment by leading elected officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller SCott Stringer, and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. Amalgamated Bank, among about a dozen financial institutions operating about 75 branches across the city, does accept IDNYC for banking purposes.</p> <p>In announcing an expanded year two for IDNYC in December, de Blasio called it "the leading municipal identification program in the country, and an example to cities all across the world."</p> <p>In a statement at the time, Mark-Viverito pointed to access for all, saying, "No matter your status, whether it's immigrant, economic, financial, or if you're homeless or transgender, New Yorkers will be able to take advantage of benefits by signing up for this valuable card."</p> <p>Make the Road New York's co-executive director, Javier Valdes, called IDNYC a "homerun." He said it provides immigrants security and alleviates the anxiety in interactions with the police. His main concern is related to banking, he said.</p> <p>Valdes also hoped that the program stays affordable. "It's going to be free for the second year as well, which I think should be done in perpetuity," he said. There had been some speculation that the card would cost around ten dollars in the second year, but the city announced it would remain free and that there were enhanced benefits, continuing its efforts to make the card appealing to all New Yorkers.</p> <p>Besides keeping IDNYC free of cost, the city has already announced partnerships with more cultural institutions for 2016, bringing the total to more than 40 museums and other organizations. The IDNYC also provides discounts on pet adoptions, the New York Theatre Ballet, soccer matches of New York Football Club, and CitiBike memberships, among other benefits.</p> <p>For MOIA's Agarwal, the next big step is increasing outreach efforts, particularly in immigrant communities. Last year, IDNYC held pop-up enrollments in 53 locations and the outreach team attended at least 1,700 community events, besides its massive advertising campaign. Agarwal said they would set up more pop-up enrollment centers and also look into bringing art and culture to the program with the help of an artist-in-residence at MOIA.</p> <p>"We're exploring the next generation of IDNYC enrollment," she said. Her focus will be reaching out to vulnerable groups such as youth populations (Last year, 21,239 minors received the card) and using more portable technology to work with seniors while making it easier to connect the card with city services.</p> <p>"I think it unifies our city," said Valdes from Make the Road NY, "regardless of who you are, where you live or where you're from."</p> <p>***<br />by Samar Khurshid, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/samarkhurshid" target="_blank">@samarkhurshid</a>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> In New De Blasio Heath Care Plan, Limited Coverage for Undocumented Immigrants 2015-11-03T03:26:57+00:00 2015-11-03T03:26:57+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5965:in-new-de-blasio-heath-care-plan-limited-coverage-for-undocumented-immigrants Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/bdb_mmv_idnyc_alatriste.jpg" alt="bdb mmv idnyc alatriste" width="600" height="418" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio holds his IDNYC (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p>According to a recent report from Mayor Bill de Blasio's office, there are 345,507 undocumented immigrants in New York City who do not have health insurance. The Mayor's Task Force on Immigrant Health Care Access seeks to provide coverage next year to 1,000 of those individuals.</p> <p><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/oES5saltVgdFIbukucCckkyc4z1WOUchUVvEv0N7eRAloPI1C7yKCm9V9DnRlEP4iFqer2tEijAJyzwt4eUWUXNTiS47WSNPdvPC2PiKKCkU09L2TxqD4U3krODPs6isCRhDwBdq" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" width="NaN" height="275px;" /></p> <p>A new plan from the de Blasio administration, <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/701-15/mayor-de-blasio-plan-improve-immigrant-access-health-care-services" target="_blank">called Direct Access</a>, is intended to expand health care to New Yorkers who do not have it and diminish the mounting number of undocumented immigrants without insurance. Direct Access is lauded by Task Force members, whose work led to the plan, but has critics and immigrants wondering if it is enough.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Direct Access program will launch in the Spring of 2016 as a year-long pilot, coordinating access for 1,000 uninsured, undocumented immigrant New Yorkers, while accomplishing other goals. The launch is intended to be a preliminary step to collect data to design a larger citywide model. The estimated cost of the pilot is $6 million, paid for by a mix of public and private funds.</p> <p dir="ltr">Dr. Ramin Asgary, professor of population health at the NYU School of Medicine, is skeptical. “The thinking is right, but it is nothing and close to a joke,” he said of the plan and its affect on the overall population of uninsured undocumented New Yorkers. “On paper they can say we are doing something, but it is a drop in a bucket in the ocean.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Nancy Berlinger of the Hastings Center for Bioethics and Public Policy defended the number. “You don’t want to launch a citywide program and then realize you don’t have enough doctors, social workers, and nurses,” she said. “You make a commitment to people when you promise ‘direct access.’” The Hastings Center co-released a report on immigrant health care access with the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) in March with recommendations for the mayor’s office.</p> <p dir="ltr">Uninsured undocumented immigrants in New York City have a handful of insurance options, but all come with hurdles in an increasingly complex health system.</p> <p dir="ltr">For instance, the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is not an option. The healthcare legislation from 2009 shut out undocumented immigrants, and made them ineligible for federal Medicaid. As a result of few options, 64 percent of undocumented immigrants in New York City go uninsured.</p> <p dir="ltr">In emergencies, older immigrants use safety net health insurance at some hospitals. The <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5939-as-healthcare-landscape-changes-city-hospital-authority-charts-new-path" target="_blank">New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation</a> (HHC) and community health centers are the primary safety-net providers that care for uninsured New Yorkers.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, some undocumented people find the cost of care prohibitive, and have major gaps in referrals to specialists for chronic conditions, according to the Hastings Center and NYIC report. Community centers and hospitals do not have access to the same specialists, so health providers often find themselves at a loss for where they can send their patients in situations of chronic conditions like diabetes and arthritis.</p> <p dir="ltr">Young people are the select few with the opportunity to apply for help through Medicaid, but only on a state level, and only after applying for the protected status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). While the program’s participants are not eligible for the Affordable Care Act at the national level, five states, including New York, offer health insurance to low-income youth granted DACA.</p> <p dir="ltr">Direct Access, Mayor de Blasio’s plan, aims to address four issues for the undocumented uninsured: language barriers; coordination shortfalls between health centers and hospitals; lack of education of healthcare options; and the mountain of high-priced services.</p> <p dir="ltr">The mayor’s task force brought together 25 agencies and nonprofits beginning in June of 2014. The plan, released in early October, estimated the large number of undocumented immigrants who are uninsured, a higher figure than the previous estimate of 250,000 in Beringer’s 2015 report. The NYC Center for Economic Opportunity's Poverty Research Unit worked with the task force to develop a model to estimate the number of uninsured undocumented immigrants in New York City based on information contained in the Census Bureau's American Community Survey data.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Young Adults Struggle through a Two-Step Process</strong><br />Applying for DACA is no easy task.</p> <p dir="ltr">The initial deferred action application requires applicants to prove their age; that they arrived to the U.S. before their 16th birthday; have continuously resided in the US since 2007; were physically present on June 15, 2012 - the date of the president's announcement; are currently in educational programs (school, vocational training, etc.) or graduated from high school/have a GED; and haven't been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or more than three misdemeanors.</p> <p dir="ltr">Many of the above are difficult for people who did not keep records, don't have a bank account, cannot speak English, or were not enrolled in school. Limited DACA enrollment keeps undocumented youth from accessing Medicaid, and creates more need for a program like de Blasio’s Direct Access.</p> <p dir="ltr">Cesar Andrade is a 23-year-old deferred action holder interested in becoming a physician in order to address the very problem he endured— lack of access to vital services for undocumented immigrants. Andrade was insured through the Children's Health Insurance Program, which expired when he was 19. He was uninsured between the ages of 19 and 22, while he was attending CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I always had to be cautious,” Cesar explained, “If you play soccer and tear your ACL, that’s a lot of physical therapy. Once I got insurance, there was a sense of relief. I got glasses and got treatment for an autoimmune disorder.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In the meantime, CUNY was able to offer him clinic check-ups, which cost $20 each. Cesar became insured last year through Medicaid after DACA made him eligible.</p> <p dir="ltr">Deferred action applications are seven-page forms, and must be mailed to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services along with a $465 fee. Cesar said it was straightforward if you know English, but what gets most people, other than any language barrier, is the evidence one must submit.</p> <p dir="ltr">Claudia Calhoon, director of health advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition said, “The take home is really that given how tough it is for you and me to understand, you can imagine how this is for an immigrant with low-English proficiency, who may be new to navigating the U.S. healthcare system.”</p> <p dir="ltr">As DACA enrollment continues, the number of enrollees in Medicaid will increase. According to the New York State Statistical Handbook, the average monthly number of Medicaid beneficiaries in New York has increased, with approximately 424,740 new enrollees in 2013. Sixty-three percent of the recipients lived in New York City. An unspecified number were new DACA holders and thus undocumented immigrants.</p> <p dir="ltr">Kinsey Dinan, acting deputy commissioner of the city’s Human Resources Administration’s Office of Evaluation and Research said in an email, “We do not have the ability to specifically identify DACA clients in our Medicaid data.”</p> <p dir="ltr">An unknown number of DACA recipients are accessing an already existing healthcare option. One of the plans for the Direct Access program is to educate uninsured immigrants on the options they may have if they have a protected status like DACA. &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Harvard Professor Roberto Gonzales is working on an initiative, the National UnDACAmented Research Project, which is a study to assess the effects DACA access has among undocumented young adults.</p> <p dir="ltr">Gonzales and the American Immigration Council published a report in 2014 that announces preliminary findings where over 21 percent of survey participants obtained health care since receiving the benefit. Although the number of applicants to health insurance is low, he thinks there are reasonable explanations for this.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The more likely option is that some DACA beneficiaries are acquiring health care coverage through work and college. Our survey was carried out in late 2013, 16 months after the initiation of deferred action. I suspect that since then more of our respondents have acquired health insurance.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Still, Medicaid for deferred action recipients only addresses a small percentage of the 345,000 uninsured immigrants in New York City.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Can Community Health Centers and HHC serve the rest of the population?</strong><br />Community health centers do not ask for documentation for patient treatment, so undocumented immigrants often go to these centers for emergency procedures. Over 400,000 of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation’s <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5939-as-healthcare-landscape-changes-city-hospital-authority-charts-new-path" target="_blank">1.4 million annual patients</a> are uninsured.</p> <p dir="ltr">For those earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, these patients are offered a sliding scale for HHC health care services, including prescription drugs. However, patients and taxpayers often fall under tremendous financial burdens from copayments and subsidized care.</p> <p dir="ltr">“If they are undocumented and don’t have financial resources, they aren't going to be able to pay the bill. The government will have to pay the bill. It is a cost effective perspective that is idiotic not to address,” said Dr. Asgary, of NYU Medical.</p> <p dir="ltr">Asgary also mentioned that most undocumented immigrants do not have preventative care options that accompany being insured. “Imagine if someone has diabetes or heart problems, and doesn’t see a doctor in ten years. If they have kidney failure or an emergency, society has to pay for dialysis or surgery. One single night in a CCU in a public hospital will cost [taxpayers] $6,000. Five nights in a hospital will cost 20-30K, and they will need follow-up care. Forget just being a decent human being. There are a lot of costs on the line.”</p> <p dir="ltr">An official statement from the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene mentioned the expansion of current safety net services as outlined in the task force plan.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The Direct Access program will build on New York City’s strong safety-net health care system. It will help make our safety net system more coordinated, will focus on prevention and primary care by providing “primary care homes” and will improve coordination of care while still preserving federal and state funds,” a representative from DOHMH wrote.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>The Plan</strong><br />Launching in the Spring of 2016, the initial $6 million cost of the plan will be partially funded by the Robin Hood Foundation through the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. The New York City Council has also committed $2.5 million toward related education and outreach efforts, including a recommended medical interpreter training program to address language barrier issues in immigrant health care access.</p> <p dir="ltr">In a statement, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs expanded on the details: “The Direct Access program will provide predictable costs, provide a primary care home, and increase coordination of care. By providing a defined network and package of health services, set eligibility criteria and predictable fees, we will be enhancing the existing system for the uninsured in our city.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The hope is that the program will expand access to health care, and coordinate many independent efforts throughout the city, including the new Caring Neighborhoods initiative, recently announced by Mayor de Blasio. Caring Neighborhoods, &nbsp;a new program led by HHC and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), will expand community health centers in all five boroughs, so that 100,000 new patients will be able to receive care. The City is dedicating $20 million over two years to cover costs for new health centers.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to the de Blasio administration press release on Caring Neighborhoods, the initiative will complement the Direct Access plan for immigrant New Yorkers by expanding services at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in neighborhoods with high concentrations of immigrants.</p> <p dir="ltr">There is also hope that the recently launched municipal identification card program, IDNYC, will play into removing the paperwork barrier for the undocumented. The Direct Access program will require a verification of identity and residency in New York. The program will allow use of IDNYC to verify both, and as a participant ID card that will expedite access to care.</p> <p dir="ltr">Berlinger, of the Hastings Center, is hopeful that the plan will bring together private and public health providers who do not typically work together. “You have to figure out how they share information, how they work together, how they share patient info. Then you have to figure out what it is a better way to reach the population,” she explained.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Enough?</strong><br />Not everyone is satisfied with the plan as it stands. The Task Force report shows that in the neighborhood of Flushing, 14-37 percent are uninsured non-citizens.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/OaebPaaUOU6kFFadygJve3JGszZd0_miXYa5zRKecyWejTeVqfmL95fR0WSZV-n8Sc-JXQ8C7dbvi5xEfNHefPwxEDbCdeNYyW7Ez_yedzeeoco2UVMIQ_iVtHMq0_5xjKRhl9o1" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" width="NaN" height="425px;" /></p> <p dir="ltr">City Council Member Peter Koo, of Flushing, is aware of the high population of uninsured undocumented immigrants, and has held community meetings that promote the use of MetroPlus Health Plan, the insurance plan of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation.</p> <p dir="ltr">A recent Monday afternoon meeting had 75 attendees. Koo’s Chief of Staff, Elaine Cheung, said, “In terms of the Mayor’s Task Force report, Councilman Koo believes that there will be a huge demand for these services and we would like to see the number of participants expanded, especially in an community such as Flushing.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In Brooklyn, 14-37 percent residents in Sunset Park are also uninsured non-citizens. City Council Member Carlos Menchaca addressed the issue in a statement: “The inaccessibility of care for immigrant communities in our City continues to be of great concern for me, and for the City Council as a whole. In the Council, we’ve allocated millions of dollars in the last year alone to help bridge some of the information and access gaps that exist on this front.” The Caring Neighborhoods Initiative recently announced that two of the community health expansion sites would be in Sunset Park and Queens.</p> <p dir="ltr">Asgary recommends the pilot target senior citizens. “I would target the elderly undocumented. In terms of cost saving, it should be directed toward elderly. They are equally neglected as children. This program moves in the right direction but needs to be expanded.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The Direct Access plan is modeled after assessments of several other cities’ health plans for immigrants. The plan, with adjustments, is based on Los Angeles’ My Health LA, a no-cost program for low-income residents regardless of immigration status. It offers care through 164 community clinics, and incorporates a preventative health approach.</p> <p dir="ltr">Of the estimated 400,000 remaining uninsured in Los Angeles County, 280,000 are being served through the plan.</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />by Sarah Betancourt for Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p dir="ltr">Note: this article has been corrected to note that the Hastings estimate for undocumented uninsured New Yorkers is 250,000, not 150,000; to remove mention of use of passport for DACA age verification; and to clarify City Council funding toward relevant initiatives and rates of non-citizens who are uninsured in certain neighborhoods.</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/bdb_mmv_idnyc_alatriste.jpg" alt="bdb mmv idnyc alatriste" width="600" height="418" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio holds his IDNYC (photo: William Alatriste)</p> <hr /> <p>According to a recent report from Mayor Bill de Blasio's office, there are 345,507 undocumented immigrants in New York City who do not have health insurance. The Mayor's Task Force on Immigrant Health Care Access seeks to provide coverage next year to 1,000 of those individuals.</p> <p><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/oES5saltVgdFIbukucCckkyc4z1WOUchUVvEv0N7eRAloPI1C7yKCm9V9DnRlEP4iFqer2tEijAJyzwt4eUWUXNTiS47WSNPdvPC2PiKKCkU09L2TxqD4U3krODPs6isCRhDwBdq" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" width="NaN" height="275px;" /></p> <p>A new plan from the de Blasio administration, <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/701-15/mayor-de-blasio-plan-improve-immigrant-access-health-care-services" target="_blank">called Direct Access</a>, is intended to expand health care to New Yorkers who do not have it and diminish the mounting number of undocumented immigrants without insurance. Direct Access is lauded by Task Force members, whose work led to the plan, but has critics and immigrants wondering if it is enough.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Direct Access program will launch in the Spring of 2016 as a year-long pilot, coordinating access for 1,000 uninsured, undocumented immigrant New Yorkers, while accomplishing other goals. The launch is intended to be a preliminary step to collect data to design a larger citywide model. The estimated cost of the pilot is $6 million, paid for by a mix of public and private funds.</p> <p dir="ltr">Dr. Ramin Asgary, professor of population health at the NYU School of Medicine, is skeptical. “The thinking is right, but it is nothing and close to a joke,” he said of the plan and its affect on the overall population of uninsured undocumented New Yorkers. “On paper they can say we are doing something, but it is a drop in a bucket in the ocean.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Nancy Berlinger of the Hastings Center for Bioethics and Public Policy defended the number. “You don’t want to launch a citywide program and then realize you don’t have enough doctors, social workers, and nurses,” she said. “You make a commitment to people when you promise ‘direct access.’” The Hastings Center co-released a report on immigrant health care access with the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) in March with recommendations for the mayor’s office.</p> <p dir="ltr">Uninsured undocumented immigrants in New York City have a handful of insurance options, but all come with hurdles in an increasingly complex health system.</p> <p dir="ltr">For instance, the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is not an option. The healthcare legislation from 2009 shut out undocumented immigrants, and made them ineligible for federal Medicaid. As a result of few options, 64 percent of undocumented immigrants in New York City go uninsured.</p> <p dir="ltr">In emergencies, older immigrants use safety net health insurance at some hospitals. The <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5939-as-healthcare-landscape-changes-city-hospital-authority-charts-new-path" target="_blank">New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation</a> (HHC) and community health centers are the primary safety-net providers that care for uninsured New Yorkers.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, some undocumented people find the cost of care prohibitive, and have major gaps in referrals to specialists for chronic conditions, according to the Hastings Center and NYIC report. Community centers and hospitals do not have access to the same specialists, so health providers often find themselves at a loss for where they can send their patients in situations of chronic conditions like diabetes and arthritis.</p> <p dir="ltr">Young people are the select few with the opportunity to apply for help through Medicaid, but only on a state level, and only after applying for the protected status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). While the program’s participants are not eligible for the Affordable Care Act at the national level, five states, including New York, offer health insurance to low-income youth granted DACA.</p> <p dir="ltr">Direct Access, Mayor de Blasio’s plan, aims to address four issues for the undocumented uninsured: language barriers; coordination shortfalls between health centers and hospitals; lack of education of healthcare options; and the mountain of high-priced services.</p> <p dir="ltr">The mayor’s task force brought together 25 agencies and nonprofits beginning in June of 2014. The plan, released in early October, estimated the large number of undocumented immigrants who are uninsured, a higher figure than the previous estimate of 250,000 in Beringer’s 2015 report. The NYC Center for Economic Opportunity's Poverty Research Unit worked with the task force to develop a model to estimate the number of uninsured undocumented immigrants in New York City based on information contained in the Census Bureau's American Community Survey data.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Young Adults Struggle through a Two-Step Process</strong><br />Applying for DACA is no easy task.</p> <p dir="ltr">The initial deferred action application requires applicants to prove their age; that they arrived to the U.S. before their 16th birthday; have continuously resided in the US since 2007; were physically present on June 15, 2012 - the date of the president's announcement; are currently in educational programs (school, vocational training, etc.) or graduated from high school/have a GED; and haven't been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or more than three misdemeanors.</p> <p dir="ltr">Many of the above are difficult for people who did not keep records, don't have a bank account, cannot speak English, or were not enrolled in school. Limited DACA enrollment keeps undocumented youth from accessing Medicaid, and creates more need for a program like de Blasio’s Direct Access.</p> <p dir="ltr">Cesar Andrade is a 23-year-old deferred action holder interested in becoming a physician in order to address the very problem he endured— lack of access to vital services for undocumented immigrants. Andrade was insured through the Children's Health Insurance Program, which expired when he was 19. He was uninsured between the ages of 19 and 22, while he was attending CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I always had to be cautious,” Cesar explained, “If you play soccer and tear your ACL, that’s a lot of physical therapy. Once I got insurance, there was a sense of relief. I got glasses and got treatment for an autoimmune disorder.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In the meantime, CUNY was able to offer him clinic check-ups, which cost $20 each. Cesar became insured last year through Medicaid after DACA made him eligible.</p> <p dir="ltr">Deferred action applications are seven-page forms, and must be mailed to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services along with a $465 fee. Cesar said it was straightforward if you know English, but what gets most people, other than any language barrier, is the evidence one must submit.</p> <p dir="ltr">Claudia Calhoon, director of health advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition said, “The take home is really that given how tough it is for you and me to understand, you can imagine how this is for an immigrant with low-English proficiency, who may be new to navigating the U.S. healthcare system.”</p> <p dir="ltr">As DACA enrollment continues, the number of enrollees in Medicaid will increase. According to the New York State Statistical Handbook, the average monthly number of Medicaid beneficiaries in New York has increased, with approximately 424,740 new enrollees in 2013. Sixty-three percent of the recipients lived in New York City. An unspecified number were new DACA holders and thus undocumented immigrants.</p> <p dir="ltr">Kinsey Dinan, acting deputy commissioner of the city’s Human Resources Administration’s Office of Evaluation and Research said in an email, “We do not have the ability to specifically identify DACA clients in our Medicaid data.”</p> <p dir="ltr">An unknown number of DACA recipients are accessing an already existing healthcare option. One of the plans for the Direct Access program is to educate uninsured immigrants on the options they may have if they have a protected status like DACA. &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Harvard Professor Roberto Gonzales is working on an initiative, the National UnDACAmented Research Project, which is a study to assess the effects DACA access has among undocumented young adults.</p> <p dir="ltr">Gonzales and the American Immigration Council published a report in 2014 that announces preliminary findings where over 21 percent of survey participants obtained health care since receiving the benefit. Although the number of applicants to health insurance is low, he thinks there are reasonable explanations for this.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The more likely option is that some DACA beneficiaries are acquiring health care coverage through work and college. Our survey was carried out in late 2013, 16 months after the initiation of deferred action. I suspect that since then more of our respondents have acquired health insurance.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Still, Medicaid for deferred action recipients only addresses a small percentage of the 345,000 uninsured immigrants in New York City.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Can Community Health Centers and HHC serve the rest of the population?</strong><br />Community health centers do not ask for documentation for patient treatment, so undocumented immigrants often go to these centers for emergency procedures. Over 400,000 of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation’s <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5939-as-healthcare-landscape-changes-city-hospital-authority-charts-new-path" target="_blank">1.4 million annual patients</a> are uninsured.</p> <p dir="ltr">For those earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, these patients are offered a sliding scale for HHC health care services, including prescription drugs. However, patients and taxpayers often fall under tremendous financial burdens from copayments and subsidized care.</p> <p dir="ltr">“If they are undocumented and don’t have financial resources, they aren't going to be able to pay the bill. The government will have to pay the bill. It is a cost effective perspective that is idiotic not to address,” said Dr. Asgary, of NYU Medical.</p> <p dir="ltr">Asgary also mentioned that most undocumented immigrants do not have preventative care options that accompany being insured. “Imagine if someone has diabetes or heart problems, and doesn’t see a doctor in ten years. If they have kidney failure or an emergency, society has to pay for dialysis or surgery. One single night in a CCU in a public hospital will cost [taxpayers] $6,000. Five nights in a hospital will cost 20-30K, and they will need follow-up care. Forget just being a decent human being. There are a lot of costs on the line.”</p> <p dir="ltr">An official statement from the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene mentioned the expansion of current safety net services as outlined in the task force plan.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The Direct Access program will build on New York City’s strong safety-net health care system. It will help make our safety net system more coordinated, will focus on prevention and primary care by providing “primary care homes” and will improve coordination of care while still preserving federal and state funds,” a representative from DOHMH wrote.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>The Plan</strong><br />Launching in the Spring of 2016, the initial $6 million cost of the plan will be partially funded by the Robin Hood Foundation through the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. The New York City Council has also committed $2.5 million toward related education and outreach efforts, including a recommended medical interpreter training program to address language barrier issues in immigrant health care access.</p> <p dir="ltr">In a statement, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs expanded on the details: “The Direct Access program will provide predictable costs, provide a primary care home, and increase coordination of care. By providing a defined network and package of health services, set eligibility criteria and predictable fees, we will be enhancing the existing system for the uninsured in our city.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The hope is that the program will expand access to health care, and coordinate many independent efforts throughout the city, including the new Caring Neighborhoods initiative, recently announced by Mayor de Blasio. Caring Neighborhoods, &nbsp;a new program led by HHC and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), will expand community health centers in all five boroughs, so that 100,000 new patients will be able to receive care. The City is dedicating $20 million over two years to cover costs for new health centers.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to the de Blasio administration press release on Caring Neighborhoods, the initiative will complement the Direct Access plan for immigrant New Yorkers by expanding services at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in neighborhoods with high concentrations of immigrants.</p> <p dir="ltr">There is also hope that the recently launched municipal identification card program, IDNYC, will play into removing the paperwork barrier for the undocumented. The Direct Access program will require a verification of identity and residency in New York. The program will allow use of IDNYC to verify both, and as a participant ID card that will expedite access to care.</p> <p dir="ltr">Berlinger, of the Hastings Center, is hopeful that the plan will bring together private and public health providers who do not typically work together. “You have to figure out how they share information, how they work together, how they share patient info. Then you have to figure out what it is a better way to reach the population,” she explained.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Enough?</strong><br />Not everyone is satisfied with the plan as it stands. The Task Force report shows that in the neighborhood of Flushing, 14-37 percent are uninsured non-citizens.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/OaebPaaUOU6kFFadygJve3JGszZd0_miXYa5zRKecyWejTeVqfmL95fR0WSZV-n8Sc-JXQ8C7dbvi5xEfNHefPwxEDbCdeNYyW7Ez_yedzeeoco2UVMIQ_iVtHMq0_5xjKRhl9o1" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" width="NaN" height="425px;" /></p> <p dir="ltr">City Council Member Peter Koo, of Flushing, is aware of the high population of uninsured undocumented immigrants, and has held community meetings that promote the use of MetroPlus Health Plan, the insurance plan of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation.</p> <p dir="ltr">A recent Monday afternoon meeting had 75 attendees. Koo’s Chief of Staff, Elaine Cheung, said, “In terms of the Mayor’s Task Force report, Councilman Koo believes that there will be a huge demand for these services and we would like to see the number of participants expanded, especially in an community such as Flushing.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In Brooklyn, 14-37 percent residents in Sunset Park are also uninsured non-citizens. City Council Member Carlos Menchaca addressed the issue in a statement: “The inaccessibility of care for immigrant communities in our City continues to be of great concern for me, and for the City Council as a whole. In the Council, we’ve allocated millions of dollars in the last year alone to help bridge some of the information and access gaps that exist on this front.” The Caring Neighborhoods Initiative recently announced that two of the community health expansion sites would be in Sunset Park and Queens.</p> <p dir="ltr">Asgary recommends the pilot target senior citizens. “I would target the elderly undocumented. In terms of cost saving, it should be directed toward elderly. They are equally neglected as children. This program moves in the right direction but needs to be expanded.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The Direct Access plan is modeled after assessments of several other cities’ health plans for immigrants. The plan, with adjustments, is based on Los Angeles’ My Health LA, a no-cost program for low-income residents regardless of immigration status. It offers care through 164 community clinics, and incorporates a preventative health approach.</p> <p dir="ltr">Of the estimated 400,000 remaining uninsured in Los Angeles County, 280,000 are being served through the plan.</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />by Sarah Betancourt for Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/GothamGazette" target="_blank">@GothamGazette</a></p> <p dir="ltr">Note: this article has been corrected to note that the Hastings estimate for undocumented uninsured New Yorkers is 250,000, not 150,000; to remove mention of use of passport for DACA age verification; and to clarify City Council funding toward relevant initiatives and rates of non-citizens who are uninsured in certain neighborhoods.</p>