Task Force on New Americans to Host Monthly Civic Engagement and Education Initiative: Community For All
New York:____ The Task Force on New Americans Chair, Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, today announced the launch of a series of civic engagement and education town halls, which will start on Wednesday, April 14th, 2021. The “Community for All” initiative will include monthly webinars aimed at understanding the function of government and will encourage new Americans to become civically engaged. This first-of-its-kind initiative will teach attendees the different roles government entities and officials play at the various levels of government, the fundamentals of the redistricting process, ranked-choice voting, and civic engagement opportunities beyond the ballot box, as well as an overview of the U.S. naturalization process.
There are approximately 4.6 million new Americans in New York State, of which 2.6 million are United States citizens. New Yorkers with non-citizen status represent approximately 1.4 million of the state’s population (including permanent residents, DACA recipients, refugees, TPS, and other statuses), with an additional 800,000 who are undocumented. Unfortunately, immigrants are an underrepresented voting block. Accordingly, the Task Force will stress the importance of community for all, and will show new Americans how to become more involved in their local government. It is paramount that every American, regardless of immigration status, is provided with the guidance and education to have their voice heard.
Last year’s election resulted in the highest voter turnout in our nation’s history, but much more should have been done to engage new Americans. The series seeks to ensure that everyone — irrespective of age, ethnicity, or immigration status — can learn about the functions of government to better advocate on behalf of themselves and their communities, while simultaneously encouraging more eligible new American voters to cast their ballots. The webinars will be conducted in English and Spanish by leaders of prominent community-based organizations, and local elected officials will make guest appearances.
“The partnership between the Task Force on New Americans, NALEO Educational Fund, Generation Citizen, the New York Immigration Coalition, LatinoJustice and various other groups could not have come at a better time. New Yorkers must understand that their voice is imperative to their communities, and not just on Election Day. Noncitizens and youth under the age of 18 are also influential in holding their leaders accountable. They can garnish momentum on the critical issues they face and the decisions being made at every level of government that impact them. This webinar series will be an essential tool to ensure that all community members have the resources they need to have their voices heard.” said Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, Chair of the NYS Assembly Task Force on New Americans.
“Civically engaged communities are empowered communities,” said Juan Rosa, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Community & Northeast Programs for NALEO Educational Fund. “Understanding the functions of government and how eligible voters can harness their power at the ballot box are critical elements of preserving community resilience and a healthy democracy. And with Latinos being fundamental to the fabric of New York and the nation, ensuring the community is well-equipped with information around voting and civic life is paramount to maintaining a civically engaged society.”
“This pandemic has made one thing clear — we’re stronger together. And history shows that when we work together to solve our problems and allow for all voices to be heard, our democracy is stronger,” said Murad Awawdeh, interim co-Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition. “The “Community for All” initiative will ensure that immigrant New Yorkers have access to the information and tools they need to become civically engaged — from the ballot box to City Hall. Our democracy is strengthened when all of us are working together to tackle our problems and make life better for all of us.”
“LatinoJustice PRLDEF welcomes the opportunity to participate in the Task Force on New Americans’ Civic Engagement series,” said Fulvia Vargas-De Leon, Associate Counsel with LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “When we think of a government of the people, by the people, we envision a democracy centered around the collective voices of our communities. For LatinoJustice PRLDEF community engagement is not simply focused on asking for public input but encouraging and ensuring the active participation of individuals in decision making processes that shape the world around them. Through our efforts in fighting against vote denial and dilution, language access, and fair redistricting processes, we strive to ensure our community is empowered to act and effect change.”
“Generation Citizen is thrilled to be part of the ‘Community for All’ webinar series. As a civic education nonprofit working to transform social studies education so that young people are equipped and inspired to exercise their civic power, we believe all community members should have the resources that they need to take meaningful action and make their voices heard, as well as advocate for themselves and their communities” stated Generation Citizen New York Executive Director, Khin Mai Aungg.