Our model integrates four core strategies for concrete, sustainable change that millions of New Yorkers feel every day:
community organizing – on workers’ rights, tenant rights, LGBTQ justice, policing, education justice, immigration justice, and climate;
the provision of Legal and Survival services like food stamp enrollment that families use to lift themselves out of poverty;
transformative education for youth and adults, including literacy and job training;
policy innovation to advocate for what our communities need and deserve.
Interviews with our staff and members bring out one recurrent comment: “Make the Road is my second home.” Immigrant parents thousands of miles from their children find support and solidarity here. Transgender women facing violence and discrimination at every turn find safety here. And everyone who comes with an individual story of abuse and exploitation finds that they are not alone – that in collectivizing our experiences and voices we can build the power to change not just one case, but entire systems.
Our members have achieved victories for millions in New York and increasingly at the national level. These are just a few:
Country’s Strongest State Executive Order Protecting Immigrants’ Info
After over a decade of organizing by MRNY and allies, Governor Cuomo signed one of the country’s strongest executive orders prohibiting state agencies from gathering and sharing immigration status information with federal immigration authorities. This means that in the vast majority of situations, immigrants across New York State can interact with police and other state agencies with a legal guarantee that they will not be asked their immigration status. Law enforcement agencies will be barred from sharing any personal information with ICE for immigration enforcement.
NYC Pensions Divest From Private Prisons and Immigrant Detention
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer announced that the New York City Employee Retirement Systems (NYCERS) pension funds will divest from private prison and immigrant detention companies!
This sends a strong message: New York won’t support corporations that are locking up members of our communities. Congratulations to Comptroller Stringer and Tish James, NYC Public Advocate and NYCERS Trustee, for taking this important step.
This announcement shows that cities can say NO to injustice and NO to corporations that stoke hate!
City says NO to cooperating with Trump’s deportation agenda
New York City has passed more Sanctuary City laws than any other city. In 2017, the NYC Council passed a bill prohibiting city agencies from misusing resources to assist with federal immigration enforcement — an extraordinary victory for New York City’s immigrant community!
Among other Sanctuary City policies we have fought for and won are the creation of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), legislation limiting when NYPD and the Department of Correction will honor a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer, an executive order barring city agencies from asking or disclosing immigration status of those interacting with city government, and Department of Education protocols directing public schools to block ICE agents from entering schools without valid warrants.
Millions in Back Wages for Workers & Victory Cleaning up Notorious Carwash Industry
MRNY’s historic work to clean up the exploitative carwash industry with the Retail Wholesale & Department Store Union and New York Communities for Change has resulted in over $3 million in back wages and penalties in the pockets of workers, an estimated $2.00 per hour raise across the industry, and innovative licensing legislation. Workers at 11 union carwashes have counted on MRNY’s support to ensure that their right to unionize is respected and to help them win ground-breaking improvements in wages, benefits and working conditions.
215 new community schools by 2017
MRNY has been at the forefront of the national movement for community schools, which provide wraparound services for students and their families to meet basic needs, enabling students to thrive academically. We are implementing this strategy in four Bushwick high schools that together serve 1,200 students. Our culturally competent bilingual staff connect families to our legal services, enroll families in health insurance and food stamps, and connect students to a school-based mental health clinic. We also offer adult education and ESOL programs for parents. As a result of our advocacy, MRNY’s community school is serving as a model for Mayor de Blasio’s plan to create 215 community schools in NYC by 2017.
Government ID cards made available for all NYC residents
After years of advocacy by Make the Road New York members and allies, NYC became the largest municipality in the country to offer its own ID program. For undocumented immigrants having government-issued ID eases participation in fundamental aspects of daily life, from picking up children from school to opening a bank account. The IDNYC program also ensures that thousands of youth and homeless New Yorkers need not fear being detained for not having ID. And New Yorkers can select the correct gender to be listed on their card: transgender and gender non-conforming individuals no longer have to fear confusion and shame when pulling out an ID card that does not accurately represent them. MRNY enrolled over 14,000 people in IDNYC in the program’s first year at our Queens and Brooklyn centers.
Oversight of the NYPD and strong protections against discriminatory policing and harsh discipline
Make the Road New York successfully advocated for the Student Safety Act, along with an extension which now requires the NYPD and NYC Department of Education to release data that shows persistent inequities in school discipline, strengthening our campaign for reform. We elevated the Community Safety Act, which helps to rein in stop-and-frisk practices. Make the Road New York youth member Christine Rodriguez served on the Mayor’s Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline, where she elevated our priorities, such as limiting police in schools. We advocated against harsh discipline in schools, leading the City to announce a ban on suspensions of students in kindergarten through 2nd grade.
Access to healthcare for trans and gender non-conforming New Yorkers
Make the Road New York and our allies successfully advocated to ensure that Medicaid was expanded to include critical medical care for trans and gender non-conforming individuals in New York State. This expansion means that trans and gender non-conforming New Yorkers will have access to gender confirmation surgeries and other care they need to stay healthy.
Student Success Center creates path to college for thousands of youth
MRNY’s Student Success Center is the city’s first youth-designed college access center. We train college-going youth from the community to guide their peers through the application process and into college. As a result, 85% of students on the campus where our SSC operates are accepted to college. Our success has led the city to replicate our model in 15 more schools.
Expanded human rights law in Suffolk County
Thanks to the advocacy of MRNY and our allies, Suffolk County amended its human rights law to prevent discrimination by employers,creditors and landlords. The law expands protections against employment discrimination based on family status, pregnancy, and for domestic workers, and adds protections for transgender people, veterans, domestic violence victims, pregnant women, and disabled residents. The new law also prohibits discrimination against renters who receive public assistance or other subsidies. With these new protections, communities vulnerable to discrimination — like low-income and immigrant New Yorkers — have the power to stand up to employers, landlords, and creditors who violate their rights.
Paid Sick Days for 1.5 million NYC workers
We know that without paid sick days, workers are incredibly vulnerable. For a low-wage worker, taking off even a single day without pay can mean the loss of critical income. For parents, this can mean the impossible choice between caring for a sick child or having enough money to feed that child. It can also mean losing one’s job. Low-wage workers have been fired for having to take a sick day — some were even fired for going to the hospital after getting sick or injured while on the job.
After tireless advocacy by hundreds of MRNY’s individual and small business members and our allies, a law was passed granting sick leave to millions of New Yorkers, making New York City the largest city in the U.S. to enact paid sick days legislation.
Translation services at pharmacies throughout New York State
Our work with immigrants revealed that lack of translation and interpretation services was leading to unequal access to government services and even health care disasters. Our organizers, policy experts and attorneys worked with hundreds of impacted families to gather and analyze data and formulate solutions. We helped these families speak out, and we won— building from the first local victories to system-wide, citywide and statewide victories. We continue to monitor these policies to ensure they live up to their promise. MRNY’s work with many allies won enforceable requirements that translation and interpretation be provided in: All welfare centers in New York City (2003); All hospitals in New York State (2006); All New York City government agencies (2008); All chain pharmacies in New York City (2009); All New York State government agencies (2011); All chain pharmacies in New York State (2012); All Suffolk and Nassau County government offices (2013, 2014).
Long Island’s immigrant population has doubled in recent years, and is home to MRNY’s fastest-growing membership.
MRNY’s newest center in Westchester will expand critical services for the area’s growing immigrant community and play a key role in winning victories for our members at the state level.
MRNY supported Poleth, a Staten Island youth, in becoming an outspoken leader for immigrant rights and in fighting for deportation relief for herself and her family. She is a recipient of our 2017 Miguel Angel Jimenez Scholarships, which will allow her to attend college and pursue her dreams.
MRNY and our sister organizations - Make the Road New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania - form a powerful bloc fighting for immigrant communities across the Northeast, and we continually seek ways to grow MRNY’s proven model in communities across the country.