MOIA Update: December 2020

  •  New York City hosted a convening for Cities for Action (C4A), which represents nearly 200 U.S. mayors and county executives who advocate for pro-immigrant and inclusive immigration policies and programs. Representatives of 38 local jurisdictions from across the country met with representatives for the incoming Biden administration and Biden-Harris transition team. In January 2021, C4A will release recommendations to ensure that key stakeholders, including the incoming Biden administration and the 117th U.S. Congress, make decisions that keep the vision and priorities of local governments in mind for the next four years.

     In addition to mapping out a long-term vision for more inclusive and welcoming local communities, the coalition will set the priorities needed to create a strong and equitable COVID-19 recovery, one that centers the needs of immigrants and their families and recognizes the outsized harms suffered and enormous contributions made by our immigrant communities, many of whom are keeping our cities and counties running in essential occupations. Read the press release for more information.

    Happy Fifth Anniversary, ActionNYC!

    While immigrant families across the five boroughs faced cruel, xenophobic threats by the Trump Administration, New York City stood by its commitment to providing free, safe immigration legal help to all New Yorkers in the languages our communities speak and regardless of their immigration status.

    We are proud to celebrate the 5 year anniversary of ActionNYC! Since its 2015 launch, ActionNYC has served over 37,000 immigrant New Yorkers and filed over 19,000 cases, including green card renewals, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals renewals, Temporary Protected Status applications, and citizenship applications.

    As we announced in September, over the next 2.5 years, 21 community-based organizations and legal service providers will be funded to continue providing high-quality immigration legal services to our immigrant communities through ActionNYC. You can check out posts about this milestone, with quotes from a few of our partners, on LinkedInFacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

    Help New Yorkers Learn English with WeSpeakNYC

     Earlier this month, we celebrated International Volunteer Day, which represents a call to the world not only to celebrate volunteerism, but to recognize the role that volunteers play in building and supporting resilient communities. While ways to volunteer during the COVID-19 pandemic have shifted significantly, there are still many ways to get involved and do your part to help support your community—including remotely by volunteering with We Speak NYC as a facilitator. 

     Our We Speak NYC program, created in partnership with the City University of New York, empowers immigrant New Yorkers by helping them practice English and learn about City services through volunteer-led conversation groups.

     Visit to learn more about volunteering for a course. If you are interested in taking a We Speak NYC online class or using our free English language learning resources online, please visit

    Immigration Policy Developments

    Victory for Immigrant Justice: DACA Reinstated & TPS Extended


    Following lengthy legal battles and unprecedented organizing by advocates and immigrant communities, the immigrant justice movement scored a major victory for two critical programs protecting immigrant residents: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

     The DACA program has been fully reinstated following a federal court ruling. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reopened applications for first-time DACA requests, DACA renewals, and advance parole, and is extending renewal grants from one to two years.

     The TPS program has also been extended for TPS holders from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Honduras, and Nepal. This extension applies for nine months through October 4, 2021, from the current expiration date of January 4, 2021.

     Now is the time for eligible New Yorkers to get the legal help they need on these vital programs, and the City of New York is here for you. New Yorkers who have questions about DACA and TPS can call the ActionNYC hotline at 1-800-354-0365, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., to access timely and trusted information and connections to City-funded, free and safe immigration legal help. For more information, visit and For information about resources for DACA recipients, including financial resources, and  tools to elevate the voices of DACA recipients, visit

    Seek Care Without Fear: Fight Against the Public Charge Rule Continues


    On December 2, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision that temporarily blocks the new USCIS Public Charge rule in certain states. The new Public Charge rule is still in effect in New York State. New York City’s litigation against the new Public Charge rule is not over.

     All New Yorkers in need of medical care, food assistance, and other benefits and services should seek the help they need without fear. Many health and social services—including COVID-19 testing and care, food assistance, tenant protection, and free legal help—are available to New Yorkers regardless of immigration status, ability to pay, or employment status. Visit or call 311 to learn about available services and resources in your language.

     Visit for the latest updates and view the flyer from NYC Health + Hospitals, available in multiple languages, for more information about receiving healthcare. New Yorkers with questions about the Public Charge rule can call the ActionNYC hotline at 800-354-0365, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and say “public charge.”

    ICE Out of Courts

     On December 15, Governor Cuomo signed the Protect Our Courts Act to ensure New Yorkers can freely access the justice system without fear of being targeted by federal immigration authorities. The legislation addresses longstanding concerns that federal immigration enforcement was deterring immigrants from appearing in New York State courts and impeding the fair administration of justice. It builds upon a prior executive order by the Governor and a directive by the chief judge of the New York State Unified Court System.

     This law makes our communities safer and is a step forward in ensuring equitable access to the justice system. All New Yorkers should be able to pursue due process in court without fear of arrest by ICE.

    COVID-19 and Citywide Updates

    Apply for the NY State COVID Rent Relief Program by February 1

    The New York State COVID Rent Relief Program application ( is now open and the deadline to apply is February 1, 2021

     The New York State Legislature established the COVID Rent Relief Program to help households experiencing an increase in their rent burden due to a loss of income during the COVID-19 crisis. This program provides eligible households with a one-time rental subsidy that will be sent directly to the household’s landlord. Applicants will not need to repay this assistance. Households can apply for up to four months of rental assistance.

     To be eligible for the program, you no longer need to show that you were “rent burdened,” paying more than 30% of income for rent, before March 7. However, you do still need to show that you were rent burdened during the pandemic, between April 1 to July 31.

     For more information about eligibility and application requirements, visit the NY State COVID Rent Relief Program website, or contact the City’s Tenant Helpline by calling 311 and saying “tenant helpline.”

    New Paid Sick Leave Rules Go Into Effect January 1

     Paid sick leave, your right to be paid while staying home when you don’t feel well, is a critical tool in our continued fight against the coronavirus. Under new rules set to go into effect on January 1, 2021, employers with 100 or more employees must provide up to 56 hours of paid leave. This builds on new rules that went into effect in September, ensuring that newly-hired employees can begin to take paid leave immediately with no waiting period, among other changes.

     Paid sick leave can be used for a broad range of services, including to get a flu shot; recovery, quarantine, or preventative care relating to COVID-19; to care for a child whose school has been closed as a result of the pandemic; or if their workplace has been closed by an Executive Order relating to the pandemic.

     These new protections help advance public health for all New Yorkers. Paid sick leave allows those who feel sick to do their part and stay home to stop the spread without losing income. For more information, for both employers and employees, visit or call 212-436-0380.

    New Yorkers Urged to Donate Blood | GiveBloodNYC Sweepstakes Ends December 31


    Donating blood continues to be one of the most critical and impactful ways New Yorkers can support the health of their communities. But 75% of New York City’s incoming blood supply has been interrupted by the pandemic and blood supply is historically low during winter months.

     Individuals who feel healthy and well are urged to step up and do their parts to support our health system by donating blood. You can make an appointment to donate blood at or find a community blood drive at

    By giving blood you can win one of 50 prizes through the GiveBloodNYC Sweepstakes! New York City residents who donate at one of New York Blood Center’s NYC locations by December 31 can enter the sweepstakes by completing an entry form at For the full contest rules, visit

    New Yorkers Advised to Stay Home and Get Tested During Holiday Season

     Given the rising rates of COVID-19, all New Yorkers are urged not to travel for the holidays this year. The NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene has a number of tips on safer holiday activities and guidelines to follow during your own holiday celebrations. View the ‘Tips for a Safer Holiday Season’ flyer available in 15 languages.

     New Yorkers who do travel out of state must be prepared to quarantine for 14 days upon return to New York State. However, this quarantine period can be ended early if you receive two negative COVID-19 tests within 72 hours prior to arrival back in New York and 4 days after your return. For more information on these requirements, including guidelines for essential workers, view the ‘Traveling During COVID-19’ flyer available in 15 languages.

     While indoor dining is currently on pause in New York City to protect the health of all, New Yorkers are urged to continue supporting their local restaurants. Outdoor dining and delivery will continue as weather permits.

    As always, New Yorkers should continue to stay home if sick, keep six feet apart, wear a mask, wash hands, and get a COVID-19 test, even if they don’t feel sick. For more information on COVID-19 testing, visit or call 212-COVID19.

    Bronx NYC Council District 12 Special Election on December 22

     While the Presidential election is now over, the electoral cycle isn’t done yet. Election Day for New York City Council District 12 is December 22. If you vote by mail, your ballot must either be postmarked by December 22 or dropped off at a polling site by election day. Eligible voters can find early voting and election day poll sites at Learn more at

     Even if you’re not voting, you can still help shape our democracy. All New Yorkers are invited to help get out the vote with our neighbors in District 12 by joining DemocracyNYC’s phone banks on December 22. Sign up at

    Additional special elections are set to take place in February and March.

    New Opportunities for Retiring Small Business Owners — and their Employees

     Small business owners throughout NYC have been struggling with major challenges and many have felt the pressure to retire, but without buyers, retirement can mean closing a business. Alternatives are available to help business owners secure the financial benefits of their investment and hard work, and ensure that their business can continue.

     This month, the City of New York launched a new initiative to expand employee ownership of small businesses. The new business transition hotline, Owner to Owners, helps business owners explore the option of selling their company to their employees at a fair market price while preserving jobs. For more information, visit the Owner to Owners website at or call the hotline at 646-363-6592.


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