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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn Fastest Growing Boroughs; NYC Population at All-Time High of 8,550,405

Such growth not experienced since the 1920s

NEW YORK––Three of New York City’s boroughs – Queens, Brooklyn and The Bronx, in that order ­– led the City and all New York State counties in numerical population growth over the last year, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today.
As a result, the city’s population grew by 55,000, reaching a record high of 8,550,405, with the three boroughs accounting for 84 percent of this growth. The Bronx grew by nearly one percent, the highest rate of growth in the State of New York.
Over the last five years, Brooklyn led in population growth, followed by the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island – as the chart below indicates. The City’s population increased by 375,000 residents or about 4.6 percent during this period, based on estimates of the population as of July, 2015. The city has not experienced such a robust rate of growth since the 1920s. The increase is fueled by a continued surplus of births over deaths, people continuing to move to the city and a decline in the number of people leaving the city.
Mayor Bill de Blasio
“The sustained population growth of our city is proof that New Yorkers not only want to remain at home, but that people are moving from all over to work and raise a family in the greatest city in the world,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The long-term prosperity of New York City hinges on our ability to keep pace with the housing and infrastructure demands of an ever-growing population throughout the five boroughs. Our progressive affordable housing plan, coupled with key transportation investments like the Brooklyn Queens Connector and Citywide Ferry Service, will ensure that our city is affordable, equitable and efficient for decades to come.”
In 2015, Queens grew by 16,700 compared to 16,015 in Brooklyn and 13,687 in the Bronx. Manhattan and Staten Island followed with 7,552 and 1,257 additional people respectively.
Each of the City’s five boroughs registered gains in population in the post-2010 period. Brooklyn saw the largest increase, up 5.3 percent or 132,000 persons, followed by the Bronx (5.1 percent or 70,300 persons), Queens (4.9 percent or 108,400 persons), and Manhattan (3.7 percent or 58,600 persons). Staten Island (1.2 percent or 5,800 persons) showed the smallest gains over the 63 month period.  The increase for the Bronx brings it close to its historical high, achieved in 1970, when the population of the borough was 1.472 million. 
“This is in many respects, the best of times. The City is at an all-time high in population and it’s at an all-time high in jobs. It’s one of the drivers that makes the housing program so important,” said New York City Planning Commission Chair Carl Weisbrod. “We’ve always been an extraordinarily welcoming city of people from all over the world and from all over the United States, but we also recognize the need to house our next generation and our growing senior population.”

Since 2010, New York City has been responsible for 90 percent of the growth in New York State, with its relative share of the State’s population rising from 42.2 percent to 43.2 percent in 2015.
The data show that “net migration” to the city was positive for the 2010-2015 period, meaning that more people are coming to New York City than leaving it.  The city gains almost 50,000 people through migration, with net losses through domestic migration more than offset by net inflows of international migrants. These sustained net inflows have not been experienced by the city for over a half-century. Queens and Manhattan showed the largest gains through migration, while Staten Island actually showed a modest loss through migration over the period.
The Census Bureau’s estimates are prepared using a combination of administrative records from vital statistics, tax returns, and Medicare, along with data from the American Community Survey.
Based on an analysis of the City’s long-term growth potential, City Planning demographers are projecting that its population will cross the 9 million mark by 2040.
For more detailed analysis, see

About the Department of City Planning
The Department of City Planning plans for the strategic growth and development of the City through ground-up planning with communities, the development of land use policies and zoning regulations applicable citywide, and its contribution to the preparation of the City’s 10-year Capital Strategy. DCP promotes housing production and affordability, fosters economic development and coordinated investments in infrastructure and services, and supports resilient, sustainable communities across the five boroughs for a more equitable New York City.
In addition, DCP supports the City Planning Commission in its annual review of approximately 450 land use applications for a variety of discretionary approvals. The Department also assists both government agencies and the public by advising on strategic and capital planning and providing policy analysis, technical assistance and data relating to housing, transportation, community facilities, demography, zoning, urban design, waterfront areas and public open space.

"Kapihan sa Manhattan" | NYC Forum on Presidential Candidates in the Philippines

"KAPIHAN - Know Your Candidates"

Forum jointly organized by the Philippine Consulate General & the Fil-Am Press Club of NY
March 30, 2016/ 6:30 PM 

Philippine Center - Kalayan Hall 
556 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10036

Get to know the Philippine presidential candidates running in the May 9, 2016 elections! A panel discussion/debate will feature community leaders who know them well and who will articulate where the candidates stand on key issues.

On the panel are –
• Jesse Arteche (for VP Jojo Binay)
• Art Garcia (for Senator Grace Poe)
• Sani Guillena (for Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte)
• Loida Nicolas Lewis (for Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas)

Archbishop Bernardito Auza | Statement On Women's Empowerment And Sustainable Development

H. E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza (
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, gave an intervention during the deliberations of the 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women of the United Nations dedicated to “Women’s Empowerment and the Link to Sustainable Development.”

In his statement, Archbishop Auza cited the commitment of Member States in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that “no one will be left behind” to ensure that women in vulnerable situations, “whose potential is often the least appreciated and realized,” are not forgotten. He mentioned the situation of women and girls who face violence in situations of war, who are trafficked for sexual exploitation or forced to convert, marry, or abort their children. He also called on the international community not to leave elderly women, mothers, or girls at the very start of life behind and to ensure women have adequate access to education and adequate health care.  
The statement can be found here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Photos | Mayor Rodrigo Duterte Birthday Celebration - New York Edition

Supporters of PH presidential candidate, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and VP candidate, Senator Alan Cayetano, hosted a birthday celebration for Davao City Mayor Duterte in Woodside, Queens, this past Easter Sunday at Payag Filipino restaurant. It was organized by members of the volunteer group NYC 4 Duterte-Cayetano 2016. March 27, 2016. New York.

Photos by Lambert Parong for Kababayan Media/ CC BY

Marj Banzon, Ethel Cantor Constantino & Noemi Caya

Joel Inocencio, Jasper Magbanua & Jocelyn Bebeth Cambaya

Miguel Braganza & Ethel Constantino

Rena Avendula

Sani Guillena

Joel Inocencio

Miguel Braganza & Ethel Constantino.

Bong Aralar & Ismael Jose.

Beaver Barril, Marj Banzon and fellow 'Duterte-Cayetano' supporters

Sani Guillena

Ismael Jose, Cesar Jose, Bong Aralar & Aris Aguirre, Brotherhood for Duterte.

Supporters of 'Duterte-Cayetano' at the birthday bash for Mayor Duterte in NYC

Governor Cuomo Bans Non-Essential State Travel to North Carolina

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed an executive order banning all non-essential state travel to North Carolina. The order requires all New York State agencies, departments, boards and commissions to immediately review all requests for state funded or state sponsored travel to the state of North Carolina, and bar any such publicly funded travel that is not essential to the enforcement of state law or public health and safety.

The ban, which takes effect immediately, follows North Carolina’s enactment of a law which bars transgender individuals from using restrooms appropriate for their gender identities, excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from state anti-discrimination protections, and prohibits municipalities from extending those protections to LGBT citizens. 

“In New York, we believe that all people – regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation – deserve the same rights and protections under the law,” said Governor Cuomo. “From Stonewall to marriage equality, our state has been a beacon of hope and equality for the LGBT community, and we will not stand idly by as misguided legislation replicates the discrimination of the past. As long as there is a law in North Carolina that creates the grounds for discrimination against LGBT people, I am barring non-essential state travel to that state.”

In 2015, Governor Cuomo banned non-essential state travel to the state of Indiana after that state’s legislature passed a controversial religious freedom measure that did not prohibit discrimination against LGBT citizens. The Indiana measure was later amended to prevent it from being used to discriminate against LGBT residents and travelers in Indiana, and that travel ban was lifted.

The Governor’s executive order banning non-essential travel to North Carolina is available here, and the text can be found below: 


WHEREAS, New York State is a national leader in protecting the civil rights and liberties of all of its citizens;

WHEREAS, New York State in 1945 enacted the first state law against discrimination in the nation, which now prohibits discrimination on many bases including age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, gender identity, marital status, and disability; 

WHEREAS, ensuring that persons are free from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is a compelling state sanctioned government interest;

WHEREAS, protecting New York State from inadvertently financing discrimination against protected classes, including sexual orientation and gender identity, is a compelling state sanctioned government interest;

WHEREAS, the state of North Carolina has enacted legislation to bar transgender persons from using bathrooms and changing facilities corresponding to such persons’ gender identities, has excluded sexual orientation and gender identity from that state’s anti-discrimination protections, and has prohibited units of local government from extending such protections to lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens; 

WHEREAS, in a free society the equal rights of all citizens, including LGBT citizens, must be protected and cherished;

WHEREAS, in a free society the will of the many cannot be the basis for discrimination against the few;

WHEREAS, it is the policy of the state of New York to promote fairness, protect the welfare of the citizens of the state of New York, and combat discrimination;

NOW THEREFORE, I ANDREW M. CUOMO, Governor of the State of New York, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by my office, the New York State Constitution, and the Statutes of the state of New York, do hereby ORDER AND DIRECT:
  • All agencies, departments, boards, authorities and commissions to review all requests for state funded or state sponsored travel to the state of North Carolina so long as there is law in effect there that creates the grounds for discrimination against LGBT citizens; and
  • To bar any such publicly funded or publicly sponsored travel to such location, unless such travel is necessary for the enforcement of New York State law, to meet prior contractual obligations, or for the protection of public health, welfare, and safety.

New York State’s ban on publicly funded travel shall take effect immediately and shall continue until such law is repealed.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Video | 'Raised Pinay' Director JL Umipig and Producers Justine Fonte & Rachelle Ocampo Short Interview

Kababayan TV | 'Raised Pinay' to Premiere in New York City

"Raised Pinay" is a community-centered benefit production based on original stories & performances by an all-Pilipina cast. 

Through original story submissions, an all-pinay cast will perform stories of Pinayhood that have formed our identity. The process brings together a group of intergenerational pinays who want to share unique and powerful stories to collaborate, relate to each other’s struggles, celebrate these experiences, and share them with the NYC community.

For more information, visit:

To purchase tickets:

To watch the trailer:

Proceeds for this event will benefit Roots of Health, a 501c3 non-profit organization providing free reproductive clinical and educational services to wom*n and girls in Puerto Princesa, Palawan (

Silent Art (and other) Auction will take place for each of the 3 shows!


*Beneficiary: Roots of Health (Ugat Ng Kalusugan)
*Director: Jana Lynne Umipig of The Journey of a Brown Girl (2014)
*Producers: Justine Fonte & Rachelle Peraz Ocampo (Board of Directors Roots of Health)
*Partners: Pilipino American Unity for Progress (UniPro), International Filipino Association at NYU, Philippine Consulate General, New York, Synergy Production & Marketing Inc.
*Pre-Production Food & Happy Hours Sponsored by Ugly Kitchen and VC Eats

*Total of 3 Shows in NYC: 

Opening Show
Thursday, March 31 - 6pm Reception, 7pm Show:
Philippine Consulate General, New York
(556 5th Ave, New York, NY 10036)

Matinee Show
Saturday April 2 - 1pm Reception, 2pm Show:
NYU Kimmel Center 905 - 
60 Washington Sq. South
Tickets are available online AND at the door ($10 service fee at the door)

Closing Show
Saturday April 2 - 6pm Reception, 7pm Show:
NYU Palladum Hall
(140 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003)
Tickets are available online AND at the door ($10 service fee at the door)


Ambassador Willy C. Gaa (
NEW YORK – The New York Filipino community gathered together at the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center to honor and pay tribute to the late Ambassador Willy C. Gaa in the evening of Friday, 18 March 2016.  Ambassador Gaa, well known for his reputation as a mild-mannered and soft-spoken career diplomat, was very well acquainted with the Northeast U.S. Filipino community, having first served as a Consul at the Consulate General in New York from 1981 to 1985, and years later rose through the ranks to serve as Consul General from 1997 to 1999.  The beloved Ambassador’s last diplomatic posting before retiring was in Washington D.C., where he served as the Philippine Ambassador to the United States from 2006 to 2011.  He had also served as Ambassador to Libya (1993-1997), Australia (2002-2003) and China (2003-2006), as well as Consul General in Los Angeles for six months before his assignment in Washington, D.C.  Ambassador Gaa passed away after a lingering illness on 08 December 2015 at the age of 69.

New York Consul General Mario L. De Leon, Jr. opened the program with his welcoming remarks and memories working shortly with Ambassador Gaa back when he was a Consul, then as Chief Coordinator at the Home Office in Manila, as well as when he began his tour of duty as Consul General here in New York in 2011 just when Ambassador Gaa was about to retire from the diplomatic service.  

Community leaders, former colleagues and personal friends of Ambassador Gaa then took their turn in sharing their fond personal remembrances having worked with and becoming acquainted with him during his past tour-of-duties in New York, and even during his yearly visits to the area after his retirement.  The speakers included current Philippine Ambassador to Norway Bayani Mercado, former New York Tourism Representative Emma Ruth Yulo-Kitiyakara, former New York Consul Nini Garcia, former Jersey City Deputy Mayor Ador Equipado, and community figures 2015 PIDC Chairman Atty. Reuben Seguritan, Mrs. Nelia Ferrette, Ms. Aida Bartolome, Mr. LP Pelayo (son of deceased ‘Filipino Reporter’ publisher Libertito Pelayo), Ms. Vangie Lazaro and friends from his Upsilon fraternity Mr. Andrew Casino and Mrs. Marilen Paderon, wife of Willy Paderon and daughter of the late Philippine actor Mario Montenegro.      

In between the shared testimonies, a short slideshow of photos from Ambassador Gaa’s time as New York Consul General in the late 1990s and then as Philippine envoy to Washington, D.C. in the late 2000s was shown on the auditorium screen.   

Wendell Gaa, son of the late Ambassador and staff employee at the Consulate, then gave his words of gratitude on behalf of his attending mother Erlinda Gaa and his absent brother Warren, proclaiming how the spirit, memory and legacy of his father as both a diplomat and a family man would be well preserved and carried on through the mutual love and support given to him by his family, colleagues and friends in the community alike.    

Ambassador Gaa in his two past postings in New York was active in enhancing the consular, cultural and substantive services of the Consulate General, endearing him to the Tri-State Metropolitan Filipino community.  Even during his stint as Philippine Ambassador to the U.S., he would frequently attend official and social functions sponsored by the community, reuniting with old colleagues and friends in the process.

The memorial program was jointly organized by the Consulate General, Mrs. Ferrette, Mrs. Carol Baluyot and Mr. Nanding Mendez of the Fiesta in America.  

Ambassador Gaa is survived by his wife Erlinda Concepcion and two sons, Wendell and Warren.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Monday, March 21, 2016

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS | 2016 Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas

The Philippine Consulate General in New York is pleased to announce that the 2016 Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas is now open for nominations.

The awards, which was institutionalized through E.O 498 in 1991, are conferred by the President of the Philippines every two years on meritorious individuals and organizations overseas to give the highest recognition to their work in the service of the Filipino community or nation, and for exceptional achievements or excellence in the pursuit of their endeavors.

The awards shall be open to Filipino and foreign individuals and organizations overseas. Nominees should have accomplished at least five years work or contribution in the field to which they are nominated.

Following are the four categories of awards:
  1. Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino (Linkapil Award) – This award is conferred on Filipino associations or individuals for their exceptional or significant contribution to reconstruction, progress and development in the Philippines. 
  2. Banaag Award – This award is conferred on Filipino individuals or associations for their significant contribution to advance the cause or promote the interests of overseas Filipino communities. 
  3. Pamana ng Pilipino Award – This award is conferred on Filipinos overseas who, in exemplifying the talent and industry of the Filipino, have brought the country honor and recognition through excellence and distinction in the pursuit of their work or profession.
  4. Kaanib ng Bayan Award – This award is conferred on foreign individuals or organizations for their exceptional or significant contribution to Philippine reconstruction, progress and development, or have significantly benefited a sector or community in the Philippines, or advances the cause of overseas Filipino communities. 
The Commission on Filipino Overseas, who manages the Presidential Awards, must receive the nomination forms, together with the Endorsement Forms of the Awards Committee headed by the Philippine Consulate General in New York, on or before 31 May 2016. For this reason, nominations must be submitted to the Philippine Consulate General for review by 31 March 2016. This will give time for the Awards Committee, headed by the Consul General, to review, validate and endorse the nominations to the Commission on Filipinos Overseas in Manila.

For further details, a copy of Primer of the 2016 Presidential Awards can be downloaded from the following link:

The Primer contains the following information and forms:
  1. Awards Categories
  2. Evaluation Criteria
  3. Rules on the Filing of Nominations
  4. Requirements
  5. Deadline for Submission
  6. Awarding Ceremony
  7. Selection Process
  8. Gallery of Presidential Awardees
  9. Nomination Form for Individuals
  10. Nomination Form for Organizations/Entities, and 
  11. Endorsement Form

For other queries, please call the Cultural Section at telephone 212-819-9655 or send an email to (subject: 2016 Presidential Awards). 

Asia Society Celebrates 60 Years of Building Bridges Between the U.S. and Asia

NEW YORK — Asia Society will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2016 with special exhibitions and signature events across the Society’s global network that kick off this week in New York.
Asia Society was founded on June 28, 1956, by John D. Rockefeller 3rd in New York to build understanding between the peoples of Asia and the United States. The Society has since grown from a small New York institution to a global organization with 12 centers across Asia, the U.S. and Europe, and unparalleled networks in the field of Asian arts, policy and education.
“Six decades ago, John D. Rockefeller 3rd had the vision to create an institution that would build bridges between the U.S. and Asia, at a time when Asia was poorly understood,” said Asia Society President and CEO Josette Sheeran. “He saw the potential of Asia when few did — and today that vision has proved prescient. Today, Asia is rising in every way — in influence, in standards of living, and in the global imagination — and this year we will honor Rockefeller’s vision, and his great legacy.”
Asia Society Museum will honor the Rockefeller legacy in the arts with the New York exhibition “In and Out of Context,” which juxtaposes historical and contemporary works to trigger more informed and distinctive ways of thinking about the artworks, their creators, and how they are displayed. Works of traditional art from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art, bequeathed to Asia Society in 1979 after Rockefeller’s death, are displayed next to contemporary works from the Asia Society Museum Collection. “In and Out of Context” runs through January 8, 2017.
Also on display at Asia Society New York is the installation “60 on 60: Asia Society Celebrates Six Decades in Photographs,” which presents some of the highlights of the organization’s history in snapshot form. From Rockefeller’s early stewardship of the institution to its global expansion, from its impactful policy and education work to its inspiring exhibitions and performances, these photographs capture the essence of what has transpired at Asia Society in New York and its other centers around the world.Asia Society is also marking the anniversary with a short documentary film about the organization’s history, narrated by NBC News anchor and Asia Society Trustee Emeritus Tom Brokaw. A collection of articles from Asia Society leaders, past presidents, and global thinkers reflecting on Asia’s role in the world today and its future will be published as a magazine — in print and online. Commemorative exhibitions and events are also being planned across Asia Society’s global network.
“60 is an important number in many Asian cultures,” Sheeran said. “It signifies that one has completed a full cycle of life. So for this institution more than most, this is an occasion to celebrate.”
About Asia Society
Asia Society
 is the leading educational organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context. Across the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, the Society provides insight, generates ideas, and promotes collaboration to address present challenges and create a shared future. A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, Asia Society is headquartered in New York with state-of-the-art cultural centers in Hong Kong and Houston, and offices in Los Angeles, Manila, Mumbai, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, and Zurich. 

Mayor de Blasio Announces NYC Commission on Human Rights First Such Agency in Major U.S. City to Issue U And T Visa Certifications

U and T visas allow undocumented immigrant victims of crime, human trafficking to remain in country during investigation and provide pathway to legal permanent residence

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner and Chair of the New York City Commission on Human Rights Carmelyn P. Malalis announced that CCHR is now accepting requests for U and T visa certifications, making it the first and only anti-discrimination agency in a major U.S. city to provide the certification. 
“All New Yorkers deserve fair, equal and just protection under the law,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We must stand up for the rights of all our brothers and sisters, and make our city safer by encouraging collaboration and engendering trust between the police and community. I'm proud to announce that the NYC Commission on Human Rights will begin issuing U and T visa certifications – leading other organizations of its kind around the country in supporting undocumented immigrant victims of crime and helping to bring perpetrators to justice.”
“Immigrant New Yorkers should never have to fear negative immigration consequences for reporting crimes committed against them, especially survivors of human trafficking,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Any expansion of U and T visa certifiers is a welcome addition that will give immigrant survivors of crime and human trafficking increased opportunity to come forward and obtain justice. Last year, the Council created a new initiative to provide services to human trafficking survivors in court, and we will continue to work with our partners in government to better serve them. With this announcement, our city is once again leading the nation in creating more compassionate and sensible immigration policy.”

Providing New Yorkers with greater access to U and T visa certifications is the de Blasio Administration’s most recent effort to protect and strengthen its immigrant communities while making the city safer by encouraging undocumented immigrants to report crimes that have often gone unreported due to fear of deportation. The U visa allows undocumented immigrant victims of crime to temporarily remain in the U.S. for up to four years while assisting law enforcement in investigations and prosecutions, and provides them with a chance to legally work, integrate into their communities and get on a pathway to lawful permanent residence. The T visa, which applies only to undocumented immigrants who have been trafficked into the United States, allows victims to remain in the U.S. for up to three years to assist in the investigations or prosecutions of trafficking crimes, and also provides a pathway to lawful permanent residence. Certification by a law enforcement agency is the first step in the visa process; applicants must submit their certification to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for approval to receive a visa.

“I’m really pleased by this news. It’s important that the NYC Commission on Human Rights pays attention to these cases, where immigrants like me are abused by employers or by others, and certify U visas,” said U visa applicant Enriqueta Luna. “I suffered sexual harassment and other types of abuse from my employer, and this happens to many others throughout the city. It’s important that our rights be protected, and that immigrants know that they can come forward when they suffer this type of abuse.”

“New York City strives to keep all its residents out of harm’s way regardless of their immigration status,” said Counsel to the Mayor Maya Wiley. “Far too often, undocumented immigrants do not report crimes for fear of deportation. But they should know that the law protects them just as it protects everyone else. They can now approach the NYC Commission on Human Rights to report crimes and assist law enforcement in investigations without thinking twice. I look forward to working with the Commission, City agencies and advocacy groups to further strengthen immigrant protections under the Law.”

“By issuing U and T visa certifications, the Commission provides another venue for undocumented immigrants to come forward, report unlawful activity and assist in investigations,” said NYC Commission on Human Rights Commissioner and Chair Carmelyn P. Malalis. “As a civil law enforcement agency with investigatory authority, the Commission is well-situated to identify crimes that may qualify immigrants for U and T visa certification, including sexual assault in the workplace, tenant harassment, forced labor, extortion and human trafficking. Everyone in New York City is protected under the New York City Human Rights Law, regardless of their immigration status. Issuing certification will bring victims of abuse one step closer to the justice they deserve.”

The Commission, like other U and T visa certifying agencies, is part of the interagency task force on U visas coordinated by the Mayor’s Offices of Immigrant Affairs and the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence. The task force convenes meetings with advocates and internally across agencies to coordinate on best practices and on outreach efforts to instill confidence among undocumented immigrant victims of crimes about a program that was designed to reduce crime and help families. Over the last few months, the Commission has focused on outreach to the City’s various immigrant communities through increased language access initiatives and targeted outreach, including by creating specific educational materials, hosting roundtables with community leaders, leading Know Your Rights workshops, and by developing partnerships with local community-based organizations serving immigrant communities across the five boroughs.

Roughly 11.3 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States, 535,000 of whom call New York City home. Due to their undocumented status, many immigrants do not report crimes such as domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking for fear of deportation. Congress created both the U and T visas in 2000 as part of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act to encourage undocumented immigrants to come forward and report crimes, and to aid law enforcement in investigations and prosecutions of criminal activity.

The New York City Commission on Human Rights is a civil law enforcement agency that investigates and prosecutes a wide range of offenses under the New York City Human Rights Law. In the course of investigating discrimination complaints in housing, employment and public accommodations, the Commission may discover criminal activity that could qualify victims for a U or T visa, such as sexual harassment in the workplace that involves sexual assault, a landlord harassing a tenant to vacate the building by threatening to report them to the police (extortion), or an employer exploiting a worker under threat of deportation or other harm (trafficking).

According to USCIS, crimes that qualify for U visa certification include rape, torture, trafficking, incest, stalking, domestic violence, sexual assault, abusive sexual contact, prostitution, extortion and sexual exploitation, among others. The list of qualifying crimes is not exclusive and includes similar criminal activity depending on the jurisdiction. Crimes that qualify for T visa certification are limited to sex trafficking and labor trafficking.

If a member of the public believes they have been the victim of a crime, they should file a report with the New York City Police Department. If a member of the public believes they have been discriminated against, they should call 311 and ask for the Commission on Human Rights.

“New York City announced that it has expanded its capacity to meet the needs of immigrant communities. U and T visas serve undocumented immigrants who have suffered abuse and encourage them to report the crime regardless of their immigration status. By providing an additional avenue for immigrants to report unlawful activity, the Commission is creating a more fostering environment for immigrant communities,” said Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal.

“The Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence applauds Commissioner Malalis for expanding the agency’s scope of services to include U and T visa certifications for victims who are seeking legal remedies related to discrimination,” said Cecile Noel, Commissioner of the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence. “The Commission’s inclusion of U and T visa certification will allow victims in New York City to come forward and receive the assistance they need.”

Federal law allows federal, state and local law enforcement agencies – including agencies with civil enforcement power, prosecutors, judges and other authorities with law enforcement investigatory power – to issue U or T visa certifications. The New York City Commission on Human Rights is one such agency. Currently, similar city human rights agencies in the ten next largest U.S. cities do not provide U or T visa certification.
In order to obtain a U visa, a petitioner is required to provide USCIS with a certification from a law enforcement agency confirming that a qualifying crime has occurred and that the victim was helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation. To obtain a T visa, victims have the option to submit a law enforcement agency endorsement that the individual was a victim of human trafficking. Certification is not required in the T visa process, but does give significant weight to the victim’s application. Certification of both the U and T visa does not automatically confer visa status. Only USCIS may issue a U or T visa.

If United States Citizenship and Immigration Services finds that the petitioner is eligible and approves the petition, a U visa recipient receives non-immigrant status to live and work in the U.S. for up to four years, and a T visa holder for up to three years. U and T visa holders may also apply to adjust status to become lawful permanent residents after three years of continuous presence in the U.S. Congress has capped the number of available U visas to 10,000 per fiscal year and T visas to 5,000.

Eligible victims of a qualifying crime may seek U visas derivative status for certain family members, including spouses, minor children and parents. Additionally, there is no statute of limitations for when a crime occurred or was reported and the signing of the U or T visa certification, nor does a crime have to be previously reported to qualify for certification.

Law enforcement agencies in New York City that currently issue U and T visa certifications include the New York Police Department, the borough District Attorney’s Offices, the Law Department, the Administration for Children’s Services, HRA’s Adult Protective Services, and now the NYC Commission on Human Rights.

The Commission will undergo rule-making to codify its certification protocol. The rule making process allows for transparency and clarity in the process and gives stakeholders and advocates the opportunity to weigh in on the proposed protocol. The Commission will also continue to work with the Mayor’s Offices of Immigrant Affairs, Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice to develop protocols, best practices and outreach efforts to educate the city’s immigrant communities about the U and T visa certification process.

For more information, visit the NYC Commission on Human Rights online, and follow @NYCCHR on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Friday, March 18, 2016

'Found Bound and Rebound' by Ged Merino Launched at Topaz Arts Group Exhibit

Ged Merino (Photo: Lambert Parong/Kababayan Media)
"I'm honored to be included in this group show and the opportunity to launch Found Bound and Rebound at my favorite art space in Queens. Right in our own backyard too! 

Found Bound Rebound started last year at FABNYC where I hosted a repurposing workshop. Several Theatre workshops in the Lower East Side were donating costumes and scrap fabrics. We invited participants to donate and bind the shoes with the donated fabrics.

At some point during the exhibition. The shoes will come down, boxed and shipped to Manila for the culmination of the project at a show presented by The Drawing Room Contemporary.

The shoes will be unbound and donated to the Haiyan Typhoon Victims."

Topaz Arts presents Case Studies

group exhibition featuring 

Joseph Paul Fox  |  Ged Merino  |  Orange   |  Roger Rothstein  |  Junko Yamada

Woodside, Queens - Curators Todd B. Richmond and Paz Tanjuaquio have long been inspired by Joseph Cornell, an American artist who lived most of his life on Utopia Parkway in Queens where he created his renowned works that influenced the genre of assemblage and collage. For Case Studies, Topaz Arts presents a group exhibition of New York City artists whose works take a contemporary approach to collage, assemblage, encasing, and sculpture – featuring Joseph Paul Fox, Ged Merino, Orange, Roger Rothstein and Junko Yamada. The exhibition is on view from March 12 to May 7, 2016. 

Viewing hours by request 

Photos: 'Case Studies' group exhibit opening reception. Topaz Arts 55-03 39th Avenue, Woodside, Queens. March 12, 2016. New York.

Photos by Lambert Parong for Kababayan Media/ CC BY

Roger Rothstein, Joseph Paul Fox, Paz Tanjuaquio, Junko Yamada and Ged Merino


Governor Cuomo Announces $10 Million to Help Non-Profits Improve Health Information Technology Systems

Funding Will Support Upgrades For 235 Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Service Providers across New York State

Andrew M. Cuomo announced $10 million in awards to help non-profit behavioral health and developmental disability service providers improve and develop their technological infrastructure. These awards will be used by providers to strengthen information technology operations as New York State continues the transition to Medicaid Managed Care for Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability healthcare. 

“Today we are transforming New York’s health care system and empowering providers with the technology they need to improve services for their patients,” said Governor Cuomo. “This funding allows non-profit organizations to provide even better care to individuals living with developmental disabilities or behavioral health challenges. I’m proud that we are continuing to move New York’s health care system forward, and I look forward to seeing this funding lead to better outcomes for patients across the state.” 

This funding, secured in the 2015-16 Enacted Budget and awarded by a Request for Proposal process, will be used by providers to purchase technology upgrades including hardware, software and services. The monies can also be used to educate staff on how to better use health information management systems. 

A list of the facilities benefitting from the funding is available here.

“The Health Information Technology funds provide much-needed assistance for the awarded providers as they prepare to deliver person-centered services in a specialized managed care system,” said Office for People with Developmental Disabilities Acting Commissioner Kerry A. Delaney. “These investments in technology will help improve outcomes for people and ensure that personalized, community-based supports and healthcare services are integrated to better support people’s wants and needs.”

“Better technological infrastructure means better services. When providers have the tools they need to get the job done, they can serve more individuals, more efficiently, and for lower costs,” said New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Marie Sullivan. “This funding will help providers throughout New York State improve their operations, with all New Yorkers benefiting from a stronger, more resilient healthcare system.” 

“This major investment will help our substance use disorder treatment providers update their systems so that they can continue to focus on providing quality services,” said New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez. “We are committed to helping providers succeed in their transition to Medicaid Managed Care. These upgrades will help to ensure that that transition is smooth and quality care is delivered to all New Yorkers suffering from substance use disorders.”

Senator Robert Ortt, Chair of the New York State Senate Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee said, "This substantial investment in our non-profit organizations will provide significant help to New York's most vulnerable population. Across the private, public, and non-profit sector, technology has become such a critical part of how organizations deliver services and ultimately succeed. By upgrading and streamlining technology, our non-profits will be able to offer better services to those most in need." 

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, Chair of the New York State Assembly Mental Health Committee said, “As New York State continues our transition to Medicaid Managed Care, it is important that we ensure that our provider network is equipped with the technology they need to serve our state’s most vulnerable residents. This much needed funding will help our providers remain competitive in the evolving healthcare environment and lead to better services for individuals with disabilities throughout the state.”

The funds have been awarded to a total of 235 providers under the jurisdiction of the Office of Mental Health, Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.