The NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) today released its fourth Annual Report, “State of Our Immigrant City.” As the City agency devoted to promoting the well-being of three million immigrant New Yorkers and their families by advocating for policies that increase justice, equity, and empowerment, MOIA’s report provides a snapshot to help communities better understand the barriers and challenges that immigrants face.
Given their vulnerability in this time of crisis, the demographic characteristics presented in this report—with a special focus on indicators of the health and well-being of immigrant communities throughout the pandemic—support MOIA’s work to lead, support, and manage programs that help to successfully include immigrant New Yorkers in the civic, economic, and cultural life of the City.
MOIA’s Annual Report also outlines the agency’s 2020 activities, initiatives, and programming in partnership with City agencies, mayors and county executives across the country, elected officials, community-based organizations, and other partners to advocate for equitable access to resources, services, and justice for all, regardless of immigration status.
In particular, the Annual Report also highlights MOIA’s efforts to address the needs of immigrant communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic: promoting resources and key information in up to 26 languages, empowering immigrant New Yorkers to access vital city services, connecting immigrant communities with programs and direct support, and advocating for more inclusive relief for all New Yorkers.
The release of the Annual Report closes out MOIA’s 17th Annual Immigrant Heritage Week, a week-long celebration honoring and highlighting the stories, cultures, and contributions of immigrant New Yorkers. Both the Annual Report and Immigrant Heritage Week are important reflections of how critical immigrants are to the health and vitality of the City’s communities.
From food distribution volunteers and those working to ensure their communities have the latest information and resources in the languages they speak to frontline workers caring and advocating for immigrant New Yorkers, the stories shared throughout Immigrant Heritage Week were an important reminder of the irrefutable fact that immigrant New Yorkers deserve thanks and recognition for their invaluable contributions—before, during, and after the COVID-19 crisis.
“Immigrants are essential, and this has never been more apparent than during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we celebrate their critical contributions, we must also recognize the barriers they face and commit to addressing their needs,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs has done incredible work to empower our immigrant neighbors and build a stronger city for all of us.”
“The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs’ 2020 Annual Report brings new urgency to the task of expanding services and developing new initiatives to break down the long-standing inequities and barriers to immigrant New Yorkers’ full participation in our city,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives J. Phillip Thompson. “From empowering immigrant communities to be counted in the census, to directly meeting their needs at the height of the pandemic and leading advocate for a more just and humane immigration system, I applaud MOIA’s ongoing efforts to build a more inclusive and resilient city for all.”
“Our 2020 Annual Report reflects on the enormous sacrifices immigrant New Yorkers have made to support our city through its greatest time of need while suffering some of the pandemic’s most severe impacts. As our communities heal from both the pandemic and four years of racism and xenophobic policies from the Trump administration, we must ensure that the needs of our immigrant communities are central to our recovery,” said Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Bitta Mostofi. “Through critical cross-agency, intergovernmental, multi-city, and community partner collaborations, the City will continue to build out our capacity to help meet the needs of our immigrant communities, advocate for a more welcoming immigration system that is consistent with our values, and work together towards an equitable recovery for all New Yorkers.”
New data analysis about New York City’s immigrant population is available in the Annual Report. Major new findings include:
- The poverty rate among immigrant New Yorkers is higher than for New Yorkers born in the United States. Further, the poverty rate for undocumented immigrants is 29.2 percent, higher than the 27.1 percent for green card holders and immigrants with other statuses. The two groups in New York City with the lowest poverty rates are U.S.-born citizens and naturalized citizens.
- For the second year, the City experienced a decline of immigrant residents. Since 2008, the City’s non-citizen population has dropped about 10 percent overall.
The report also lays out MOIA’s 2020 state, federal, and regulatory advocacy priorities. MOIA’s advocacy work across all levels of government is critical, with ongoing opportunities to strengthen immigrant communities, including through federal advocacy for inclusive COVID-19 relief, advocating for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, and taking on the Trump administration’s harmful policies in court.
Additional notable statistics from the report about immigrant New Yorkers include:
- New Yorkers by Immigration Status: 63 percent U.S.-born citizens; 21 percent naturalized citizens; 10 percent green card holders or other status; and 5 percent undocumented.
- Top Ten Countries of Birth for Immigrant New Yorkers, from Highest Population to Lowest: Dominican Republic, China, Jamaica, Mexico, Guyana, Ecuador, Bangladesh, Haiti, India, and Trinidad & Tobago.
- Top Ten Languages of Immigrant New Yorkers with Limited English Proficiency (LEP), in Order: Spanish, Chinese (including Cantonese and Mandarin), Russian, Bengali, Haitian Creole, Korean, Arabic, Polish, Urdu, and Italian.
- Nearly 62 percent of New Yorkers live in family households with at least one immigrant.
- About 12 percent of New Yorkers live in mixed-status households, in which at least one undocumented person lives with other persons who have legal status.
- About 14 percent of all children or 240,000 live in mixed-status families.
- 80 percent of undocumented immigrants (age 16 and older) are in the labor force, compared to 65 percent of all New Yorkers.
- Immigrant New Yorkers contributed $244 billion to the city’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), about 23 percent of its total GDP.
- 12 percent of immigrant New Yorkers lack health insurance, compared to 4 percent of U.S.-born New Yorkers.
- 46 percent of undocumented New Yorkers lack health insurance.
- 13 percent of undocumented children (under age 19) in New York City lack health insurance, despite the fact universal coverage is available to all children, regardless of immigration status, in New York State.
The full report has additional information about immigrant New Yorkers, MOIA programming and advocacy, and federal and state policy developments.
“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a disproportionate toll on the health and livelihood of the more than three million immigrants in New York City. For this reason, we applaud the work and efforts of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, in conjunction with other City agencies as the Department of Health, to respond to the COVID-19 impacts and inequities among immigrant New Yorkers,” said Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Doctor Dave A. Chokshi.
“The City’s public health system has valued its partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs for years, but our collaboration proved more critical this past year considering the COVID-19 pandemic and the health impacts it had on our valued immigrant communities,” said NYC Health + Hospitals (H+H) President & CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “We look forward to continuing our work with MOIA and ensuring our immigrant communities have the necessary information on the affordable, high-quality health care access the city provides and they have a right to.”
“In this year of unprecedented tragedy and turmoil, immigrant communities across the five boroughs have been a source of inspiration, continuing to give back to communities, supporting neighbors in need, and embodying the compassion that is fundamental to New York City,” said Department of Social Services (DSS) Commissioner Steven Banks. “As we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we at DSS-HRA-DHS are committed to building upon the important progress we’ve already achieved with MOIA and our other partner agencies in support of these essential communities of New Yorkers, ensuring our City remains the most inclusive and equitable city for all—regardless of immigration status.”
“Our immigrant students and families reflect the rich diversity of New York City, and we’re thankful for agency partners like MOIA for working hand in hand with us to provide all children with access to a high-quality education, particularly in these unprecedented times,” said Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter. “We want all immigrant families to know that our school communities are here to support and empower them regardless of immigration status.”
“New York City is a city of immigrants—it’s what makes us the amazing city we are,” said Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “Our ongoing collaboration with MOIA has always been an essential part of our efforts to educate New Yorkers about their consumer and worker rights as we work to protect and enhance their daily economic lives. During the past year of uncertainty, that partnership has been more vital than ever as we all worked to disseminate constantly changing information about workplace safety and rights, and to protect consumers from price gouging, scams, and more.”
“Our City continues to rely on immigrant New Yorkers, who make up nearly half of the City’s workforce and small businesses,” said Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Jonnel Doris. “MOIA’s new Annual Report provides detailed information on the critical role immigrant New Yorkers play in our society, and shows the power of the City’s diversity.”
“IDNYC is a powerful tool for making sure all New Yorkers can participate in the full life — civic, economic, and cultural — of their city,” said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Gonzalo Casals. “We are grateful to the dozens of arts and cultural organizations who have stepped up in this incredibly difficult year to continue offering free memberships and other benefits to IDNYC cardholders, contributing to the sense of inclusion, solidarity, and belonging that has helped so many of us in these challenging times.”
“New York City is home to immigrants from every country in the world – we move, thrive, eat, and heal because of our immigrant communities,” said NYC Commission on Human Rights Chair and Commissioner Carmelyn P. Malalis. “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York City, immigrant New Yorkers did not back down, but rather stepped up and continued to operate the subway, work grueling shifts in medical facilities, provide food and household necessities through neighborhood restaurants and businesses, and keep the city functional. Even when faced with racism and xenophobia, Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander New Yorkers continued to believe in the city and worked to keep New York City alive. The New York City Commission on Human Rights celebrates the richness and vibrancy immigrants bring to life in NYC.”
“New York City values its immigrant communities and is committed to supporting them,” said Community Affairs Unit (CAU) Commissioner Roberto Perez. “As the City builds back better, we must continue to advocate for policies that empower our immigrant communities.”
“Immigrant New Yorkers are New Yorkers — hard stop. This City is committed to an equitable recovery that meets the needs of all New Yorkers, which is why we’re proud to partner with MOIA on important initiatives like Project Parachute to help tenants, regardless of immigration status, to stay in their homes during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Louise Carroll. “We applaud MOIA’s leadership and advocacy work over what has been a very difficult year and look forward to continuing to work together to connect immigrant New Yorkers with critical resources to support their housing needs, such as Housing Connect and the citywide Housing Resource Portal.”
“New York’s immigrant communities are microcosms of our great city, and this includes immigrants with disabilities,” said Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) Commissioner Victor Calise. “MOPD was proud to partner with MOIA to include a tactile indicator for people who are blind or have low vision on the IDNYC card. We commend them on the release of this report and will continue working with them to ensure that programs and services are accessible to all.”
“NYC is a leader in addressing the needs of immigrant families. Based on data from this report we know there are challenges ahead, especially as the city continues to move forward in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Commissioner David A. Hansell, Commissioner. “Ensuring our immigrant communities are supported, empowered and included are critical factors for success. We are grateful to Commissioner Mostofi and MOIA for sharing these insights, and we look forward to working together on initiatives and strategies that provide additional resources and support to all families, regardless of immigration status.”
“Vulnerable individuals need us now more than ever in these extraordinary times,” said Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence (ENDGBV) Commissioner Cecile Noel. “We are proud to partner with MOIA to make a difference in the lives of survivors by offering them multiple avenues of support against all forms of domestic and gender-based violence, and in telling survivors that help is here for them and that they are never alone.”
“We always enjoy partnering with the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs but are especially proud of our collaboration during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when we worked together to ensure that the Big Apple’s immigrant communities not only had access to technology but also were able to learn how to use that technology in whichever language they were most comfortable,” said John Paul Farmer, Chief Technology Officer of the City of New York. “Immigrants are and always have been essential to the fabric of this city. We are proud to work with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs to serve this diverse and vibrant community of New Yorkers.”
“Immigrant communities were especially hard-hit during the pandemic, with many undocumented New Yorkers and families of mixed-status lacking job security and access to federal assistance. Through MOIA, the City has made great strides in increasing food and healthcare access, language assistance, and other supports for immigrant families and communities,” said Sideya Sherman, Executive Director of the NYC Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity. “This report is a call to action for us to continue addressing the unique barriers immigrant communities face and collectively advocate for pro-immigrant policies at all levels of government.”
“The Mayor’s Fund applauds the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs for its efforts to address the inequities compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, for its leadership on institutionalizing legal support for immigrants, and for empowering immigrant communities to get counted in the 2020 Census,” said Daniele Baierlein and Jorge Luis Paniagua Valle, Co-Executive Directors of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. “We are also proud to have partnered with MOIA and the Open Society Foundations last year to provide emergency support to thousands of immigrant New Yorkers unable to access federal relief funds. We look forward to continuing our partnership with MOIA in service of the three million immigrants who make New York City their home.”
“As MOIA’s valuable annual report makes clear, immigrants are central to the dynamism of New York City, and focusing on the well-being of immigrant communities is crucial to an equitable and successful recovery for the city as a whole,” said Matthew Klein, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund for Economic Opportunity (NYC Opportunity). “Our office is proud of our partnerships with MOIA, including in the work of analyzing poverty among immigrants, and in helping New Yorkers access available services, including pathways to citizenship, which lead to greater upward economic mobility.”
“The Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes is proud to partner with MOIA on programs and initiatives that support and empower immigrant New Yorkers,” said Deborah Lauter, Executive Director of the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes (OPHC). “During the past year, MOIA not only stepped up with resources to help the immigrant communities deal with the health and economic crises but also worked with our office to respond to the troubling virus of hate directed at members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities who have been falsely and unfairly blamed for the pandemic. Having materials, town hall meetings, and training in multiple languages to explain how to report bias incidents and hate crimes and the importance of doing so, has been extremely important and helpful in supporting the AAPI community and keeping them safe.”
“As New York City begins to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, it is essential that we center the inequities and barriers that many New Yorkers face, especially in our immigrant communities,” said Dr. Sarah Sayeed, Chair & Executive Director of The New York City Civic Engagement Commission (CEC). “The Civic Engagement Commission is proud to partner with MOIA in tackling a range of crucial issues from language access to civic education. Together, we can make sure that we are building an inclusive and equitable recovery.”
“During a crucial year for our city, from preparing for local elections to recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must continue to center immigration justice and equity in our collective work,” said Laura Wood, Senior Advisor, and General Counsel to DemocracyNYC. “MOIA’s report offers crucial insights into the barriers still facing immigrant communities here in NYC, many of which have become more urgent during the ongoing pandemic. DemocracyNYC is proud to partner with MOIA on ongoing programming and initiatives that empower immigrant communities and ensure access to civic engagement opportunities for all New York City residents.”
“MOPT and MOIA have worked together during this difficult year to keep immigrant communities in their homes, ensure they know their rights, and are able to access the benefits and resources that the city offers,” said Ricardo Martínez Campos, Deputy Director of the Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants (MOPT). “We congratulate MOIA on accomplishing so much during this past year, and we look forward to continuing our work together.”
“In a year like no other, it’s critical to fully understand how to best support the diverse needs in our immigrant communities,” said Acting NYC Chief Service Officer Laura Rog. “We look forward to using MOIA’s research to build on equitable and inclusive programming for immigrant New Yorkers to fully engage in civic life.”
“When the City Council mandated the creation of MOIA’s Annual Report in 2017, we knew it would become an indispensable summary of what life is like for immigrant New Yorkers,” said City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Committee on Immigration. “Commissioner Bitta Mostofi and the team at MOIA deserve credit for consistently engaging with the Committee on improvements to reporting, and ways in which data can consistently inform their programs. We look forward to discussing the new questions this report raises, as we work together to improve the lives of some of our most vulnerable neighbors.”
“As the Council Member for one the most immigrant-rich communities in New York City, I strongly commend MOIA for their hard work,” said City Council Member and NYC Council Finance Chair Daniel Dromm. “This data is vitally important for us to properly serve our people. New York was built by immigrants and it is especially important that we understand their impact during Immigrant Heritage Week. I look forward to sharing the 2020 annual report with colleagues and constituents.”
“I’m the proud son of Ecuadorian immigrants, one of the largest groups in New York City. Immigrants have not only contributed to the success and fabric of our city, but also of this nation. They also have sacrificed so much for us to get through this pandemic while bearing the brunt of COVID-19. We need to ensure that, as the greatest city in the world, we understand the barriers and address the inequities our immigrant communities face so they can thrive, not just survive,” said City Council Member Francisco Moya, who represents District 21 in Queens.
“CUNY applauds MOIA for another successful year in helping New York’s immigrants,” said Allan Wernick, CUNY Citizenship Now! Director. “In a particularly difficult year for New York’s immigrant community, MOIA rose to the occasion ensuring that the community got much-needed legal and social services.”
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.