The New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) Commissioner Bitta Mostofi today announced her plans to depart from the de Blasio administration, effective in early May. Commissioner Mostofi joined the de Blasio administration in 2014 and was appointed commissioner in 2018. She led the City’s fight against the Trump administration’s federal immigration policies that directly attacked and caused fear and confusion among immigrants, threatening the safety and health of communities across the country before and during the global public health crisis.
Under her leadership, the agency experienced dramatic growth in its programs and services that ensure access to justice, expand accessibility of City services, and provide educational opportunities for immigrant New Yorkers that encourage civic participation, among the many ways MOIA has supported the City’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts through outreach, direct assistance, language access, and more.
“I am grateful for Bitta’s fierce and tireless efforts to make New York City a more just and accessible place for immigrant families,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “From combating the Trump administration’s relentless attacks on immigrants head-on to leading the vision for a bold national strategy to further immigration reform, Bitta’s leadership has been critical for inclusive, equitable, and resilient communities for all.”
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“Bitta Mostofi’s exemplary work as MOIA Commissioner helped foster collaboration among advocates, community-based organizations, elected officials, and more to help build the necessary trust in local government needed to ensure that immigrant New Yorkers are empowered to access many City services available to all, regardless of immigration status,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives J. Phillip Thompson. “Under Bitta’s guidance, MOIA grew to become the nation’s largest local office dedicated to serving immigrants and centering the needs of our diverse communities through response and recovery efforts. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”
“It has been an honor to serve immigrant New Yorkers in this administration and I am humbled by the trust bestowed upon me during some of the most tumultuous years in the lives of so many immigrants across this great city,” said MOIA Commissioner Bitta Mostofi. “While there continues to be much work to be done, I am proud of the myriad achievements we have accomplished and the example we have set for local leadership across the country. None of this would have been possible without my incredible team at MOIA, colleagues across our administration, and the many community partners we work alongside. I am grateful to the Mayor for this opportunity and for his deep commitment to immigrant New Yorkers.”
Demonstrating the City’s commitment to immigrant New Yorkers, the de Blasio administration has made major investments in programs and initiatives that MOIA leads, manages, and supports to further include immigrant New Yorkers in the civic, economic, and cultural life of the City.
Since the start of the de Blasio administration, the City’s investment in access to justice programming—including comprehensive, community-based immigration legal services through MOIA’s ActionNYC program—has increased by 475 percent.
Additionally, the de Blasio administration has increased by 450 percent funding for programs that expand the accessibility of services such as IDNYC, the largest municipal identification program in the country, and through language access, including the implementation of the City’s language access law to ensure that City government can effectively communicate with and serve New Yorkers with Limited English Proficiency (LEP).
The City’s investment in immigrant rights and education programs that promote civic participation has also grown to an annual budget of $3.1 million during the de Blasio administration.
An additional $100 million has been invested in improving health care access through NYC Health + Hospitals’ NYC Care program.
New Yorkers who cannot afford or do not qualify for health insurance may be eligible to receive low-cost or no-cost services through NYC Care.
Through Mostofi’s tenure, MOIA’s accomplishments reflect an affirmative agenda to ensure all NYC immigrants can live full and complete lives.
● As co-chair of the City’s Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity (TRIE) subcommittee on undocumented immigrant workers, Mostofi led efforts to address the needs of low-wage workers and immigrants at imminent risk of deportation, and to address hesitancy among immigrants in seeking care and support through City-funded services and programs.
● MOIA has played a central role in efforts to address the inequities and disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 crisis on immigrant communities by expanding language access and implementing innovative solutions to address gaps in federal relief such as emergency cash relief, rental assistance, and burial assistance.
● Through creative and multilingual in-person, virtual, and digital outreach; hundreds of events and convenings with community partners, faith leaders, and community and ethnic media; and direct and culturally competent support and assistance, Mostofi led MOIA’s efforts to ensure access to COVID-19 testing and vaccine information, health and mental health services, emergency food assistance, rental assistance, workers’ rights information, and small business support, among many other critical resources.
Access to Services
Key to the work Commissioner Mostofi led for the agency was expanding immigrant access to the City services and resources.
● Leading the IDNYC campaign to bring the City’s free municipal identification program to more than 1.3 million New Yorkers, deepening immigrant communities’ sense of belonging in our city;
● Expanding ActionNYC and institutionalizing City-funded, comprehensive, and community-based immigration legal services including in rapid response legal services for immigrants facing imminent deportation;
● Creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Renewal Fund to help NYC Dreamers apply for and receive financial assistance to renew their DACA, and expanding it into the Immigration Application Fee Fund to open up use of additional funding to cover fees for a diverse range of immigration applications;
● Championing health care for all by partnering with sister agencies to create and implement NYC Health + Hospitals’ NYC Care, a major initiative to ensure that New Yorkers who cannot afford or do not qualify for health insurance can apply for low-cost or no-cost services;
● Reducing communication barriers and ensuring inclusion for New Yorkers with LEP by overseeing the implementation of Local Law 30 across citywide initiatives; and
● Supporting the City’s commitment to community and ethnic media through Executive Order 47, which requires all city agencies to spend at least 50 percent of their annual print and digital publication advertising in community and ethnic media.
Community Engagement and Rights Education
MOIA’s programs and initiatives have helped immigrants connect more deeply to the city and empowered immigrant New Yorkers to act on their rights and participate in civic life.
This was demonstrated through:
● Growth of MOIA’s We Speak NYC free English language learning program, which helps immigrant New Yorkers practice English conversation skills through content-based, civic-focused instruction and Emmy-award winning videos;
● MOIA’s Know Your Rights forums provided in workplaces and in communities to ensure that immigrant New Yorkers understand their rights and protections under the law, are supported in navigating confusing changes to federal immigration policy, and are empowered to fully participate in civic life;
● Deepened civic engagement with immigrant communities through expanded poll site interpretation services for LEP New Yorkers and an effort to adopt poll site interpretation services into New York City’s charter; and
● Collaboration with the NYC Census 2020 team to empower all New Yorkers to get counted through virtual and in-person events, direct sign-ups, and amplification of Census messaging through all public channels and other programs like We Speak NYC.
When the Trump administration sought to separate immigrant children from their parents, escalate immigration enforcement efforts, and attack Dreamers, Commissioner Mostofi led the City’s aggressive response to combat these egregious policies, launch rapid response legal and outreach support to address immigration enforcement, and fight to defend DACA at the federal level.
Under Commissioner Mostofi’s leadership and in working with partners across the city and country through Cities for Action—a bipartisan coalition of nearly 200 U.S. cities and counties, founded by Mayor de Blasio in 2014, that advocates for pro-immigrant federal policies and the civic inclusion of immigrant communities—New York City stood up for immigrant residents in federal courts by:
● Leading local response and joining litigation against the Trump administration’s public charge rule, now permanently blocked from going into effect nationwide, and its harmful effect on immigrants’ use of public benefits for which they are lawfully eligible;
● Advocating for the reunification of families and to keep families together, responding to family separation with resources for children and families in New York City, and sending a delegation of lawyers and social workers to the border to provide support for families; and
● Defending DACA at the federal level including leading amicus briefs and the creation of Cities for Action’s Cities for DACA campaign to highlight the stories of Dreamers, illustrate the countless contributions Dreamers make to our communities, and raise awareness about the negative consequences ending DACA would have nationwide.
For additional information about the agency’s programming and advocacy view MOIA’s Annual Report, “State of Our Immigrant City.”
The NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) promotes the well-being of NYC’s immigrant communities by advocating for policies that increase justice, equity, and empowerment. MOIA leads, supports, and manages programs that help to successfully include immigrant New Yorkers into the civic, economic, and cultural life of the City.
For more information on all MOIA services and the City’s many resources for immigrant New Yorkers, go to nyc.gov/immigrants; call the MOIA hotline at 212-788-7654 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday or send an email to AskMOIA@cityhall.nyc.gov; and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Medium.