June 17, 2021 By Ryan Songalia
A service hub providing immigration-related resources at Queens Borough Hall opened Tuesday.
The center is offering immigrants free legal consultations through CUNY Citizenship Now!, which is the largest university legal assistance program in the nation. Other services tailored for new immigrants are expected to be announced soon.
“There’s a reason why we’re called ‘The World’s Borough,’” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, who cut the ribbon on what’s called the Immigrant Welcome Center.
“Every day, families from all corners of the globe come here to Queens to start businesses in our neighborhoods, send their children to our schools and be integral parts of our thriving communities.”
The Immigrant Welcome Center is being led by a full-time coordinator who is fluent in Mandarin and the Borough President’s Director of Immigrant Affairs who is a Spanish speaker. Both are immigrants and will assist in case management.
Richards said that there couldn’t be a better place for an immigrant welcome center than Queens, which is home to more than a third of the city’s three million immigrants. Nearly half of the borough’s 2.4 million residents were born abroad, he said.
Non-English speakers seeking services will have access to a third-party translator to remove any potential language barriers.
Congresswoman Grace Meng, whose parents were born in Taiwan, commended Richards at the ribbon cutting for opening the center.
“Borough Hall’s new Immigrant Welcome Center is a needed investment in things such as legal assistance and referrals to community-based organizations and city services,” Meng said.
Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, who received immigrant protections under the DREAM Act, voiced her appreciation for the center, saying immigrant life comes with unique challenges.
“The Immigrant Welcome Center at Queens Borough Hall will be the first of its kind in the State of New York, and amongst only a handful nationwide. I am honored and thrilled to join Queens Borough President Donovan Richards on this initiative, and I applaud him for his bold dedication and vision for the immigrants of our great Borough,” said Cruz, who was at the ribbon cutting.
The Immigrant Welcome Center will be open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In-person visits are by appointment only due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional information from the Immigrant Welcome Center, including a community calendar and links to resources, can be found at queensbp.org/immigrantwelcomecenter.