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New York City Focuses on Inclusion

We attended a briefing and training workshop recently on New York City programs for its immigrant communities, co-hosted by the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs and the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Affairs, along with the New York Public Library. The session was primarily for consular staff to learn about these programs and how they can partner with the City to inform their constituent communities about available services and facilitate access to them. Representatives from several consulates attended, including Switzerland, Ukraine, Bolivia, and Angola.

International Affairs Commissioner Penny Abeywardena opened the session along with Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal and Ms. Caryl Soriano, head of the Mid-Manhattan Branch of the NYPL. They spoke about their collaborative relationship in advancing the de Blasio administration’s efforts to better serve immigrant communities and foster a more inclusive city, focusing on three main programs, IDNYC, We Are New York, and Know Your Rights.

After that, staff from Immigrant Affairs gave a more detailed explanation of the IDNYC program, including the various services and benefits it provides access to, application procedures, and opportunities to partner on educational and promotional events. They then introduced the Know Your Rights program, designed to inform immigrants about City services, important topics such as emergency preparedness, and ways they can become more involved in supporting their communities. And finally, they showcased the We Are New York video series, which combines English language lessons with information on how to find resources for dealing with topics of concern to immigrants, along with support from ESOL teachers and other trained professionals, to provide a comprehensive tool to address immigrant needs, especially for English Language Learners.

Finally, following a Q&A session, participants were able to see a registration center for IDNYC, located in the Midtown Manhattan branch, and a few even took advantage of the chance to apply for their own IDs. One big incentive is the chance to receive free or discounted memberships or admission to a variety of theaters, museums, zoos, and gardens, as well as discounts on YMCA, Parks, and CitiBike memberships.

For more information on IDNYC and We Are New York, you can go to the websites at and Information on Know Your Rights is available through


Matthew Gillam
October 2016