New York City was founded on an open ended policy of immigration and that has colored every aspect of life in the City. Being a gateway for immigration for the nation, NYC life has always been colored by an acceptance, tolerance and ability to value the gifts immigrants bring no matter where they are from. And that welcoming attitude is still obvious today with the issue of undocumented immigration now a widely debated topic in the nation
No aspect of teh current debate has stirred more controversy than that of unaccompanied minors arriving in the country and how the nation should respond. As arrangements stand at the moment the Department for Health and Human Services takes charge and places children in different cities while their immigration status is investigated and if possible regularized. NYC has accepted many of these children and New Yorkers have risen to the challenge of helping them.
Organizations such as Make the Road New York and the New York Immigration Coalition now perform the work that was historically performed by NYC groups originally from places like Germany or Italy helping other German or Italian immigrants as they in turn arrive. These present day organizations work tirelessly to help these children and other immigrants settle in, inform them of their rights and advocate on their behalf.
As well the city Council has been active in setting up a program to help unaccompanied immigrant children get legal representation so they do not face Immigrant Court alone. Most of the children come from Central America. See the first video which tells the story of one young Cantral American young lady who arrived with her family and the issues she faces as an undocumented immigrant. In the second video there is a survey of NYC’s role as the most significant point of entry for millions of immigrants right through to the present day.
NYC has always benefitted enormously from the contributions immigrants make to the life of the City and that is as true of new immigrants today as it has demonstrably been true of past immigrants. Today’s immigrants come to make a better life and they work hard to do that. And one of the great gifts past immigrants have given the city is a maturity of vision about the nature of immigration and a deeply held humanitarian impulse to help those who dare to reach for a better life.