Founded in 1987, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) is an open-borders policy and advocacy organization that has taken a leadership role in the State of New York. NYIC is part of the Restore Fairness Campaign and the We Are America Alliance; it also operates as a leading member of the Center for Community Change’s massive Reform Immigration for America Coalition. Moreover, NYIC is a powerful coalition in its own right; its membership comprises more than 200 groups in New York State, including such prominent labor and progressive organizations as the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the American Friends Service Committee, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, CUNY Citizenship and Immigration Project, Human Rights First, Make the Road New York, Sanctuary for Families, the Service Employees International Union, and UNITE HERE!.
NYIC was originally established to rally New York’s immigrant community leaders to protest a provision in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 which made it illegal for any American employer to knowingly hire or recruit illegal immigrants. Since the late 1990s, NYIC has expanded into a multifaceted progressive group that combines community organizing with lobbying. Its major initiatives include the following:
Policy analysis and advocacy: NYIC pushes for “broad legislation and comprehensive immigration reform measures,” which are aimed at combating “discrimination” and providing “quality health care, health care, education, and housing” to immigrants.
2. Civic participation and voter education: NYIC has taken a leading role in citywide and statewide Get-Out-The-Vote campaigns. Launching the Immigrant Voter Action Campaign in 2008, NYIC sought to “mobilize immigrant voter power in New York as never before.” During the 2008 presidential campaign, NYIC’s efforts bolstered a national campaign to enlist new voters in order to push for an open-borders agenda.
3. Community education: NYIC has disseminated more than a million copies of various educational publications dealing with immigration law, the citizenship process, school registration, health care access, and voting rights.
4. Training and leadership development: NYIC’s Immigrant Concerns Training Institute offers classes on the social and legal services that are available to immigrants, legal and illegal.
Chung-Wha Hong – former head of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium – serves as NYIC’s Executive Director. New York Magazine and Crain’s have described her as one of the most influential women in New York. Hong contends that the federal government is chiefly to blame for the problem of illegal immigration. “The irresponsible immigration system […] creates this pool of undocumented immigrant workers […] undermining our security, undermining our economy and encourag[ing] employers to exploit immigrants,” she argues. Hong states that “[w]e can’t deport our way out of this [illegal immigration] problem,” because it is “too big.” In Hong’s view, the only solution is to grant amnesty to all the illegal aliens presently residing in the United States, as well as to many millions of their relatives south of the U.S.-Mexican border. Legalization would “bolste[r] our economy,” she affirms. “If you legalize all the workers and families that are here right now it will generate $1.5 trillion in gross domestic product.”
In the early months of 2010, NYIC was an instrumental participant in lobbying efforts to pressure the Democratic Party to make comprehensive immigration legislation an immediate priority. Meeting with New York Senator Chuck Schumer on February 5, Chung-Wha Hong and the leaders of 60 NYIC member groups pushed for stronger promises on reform. On March 11, Hong and activist leaders from around the U.S. met with President Obama to urge the passage of an amnesty bill.
In April of 2010, NYIC stepped up its lobbying and organizing efforts to protest a newly passed Arizona law, SB 1070, targeting illegal aliens. “The NYIC condemns the Arizona law in the strongest of terms,” declared Frances Liu, NYIC’s Immigration Advocacy Field Coordinator. “The ugliness of SB 1070 should serve as a wake-up call to the President and Congress to stop dragging their feet. They must address the crisis in our communities today, stop the senseless deportations, and enact just and humane immigration reform now.” According to Chung-Wha Hong, the Arizona law would ultimately “turn our country into a police state.”
Acting as a local arm of the national Reform Immigration for America Coalition, NYIC helped coordinate all the various May Day immigrant-rights demonstrations that were held throughout New York State in 2010. Rallying high-profile politicians and thousands of New York-area residents, NYIC denounced Arizona’s law, demanded action from President Obama, championed Congressman Luis Gutierrez’s open-borders legislative efforts in the House of Representatives, and blasted Republicans as “the party of obstruction.” Among the open-borders groups that joined NYIC’s May Day efforts were the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrants’ Rights.