From April 28-May 2 Guttman Community College hosted the 12th annual Citizenship NOW! hotline, co-sponsored by the New York Daily News and the City University of New York (CUNY) to provide free and confidential citizenship and immigration information to thousands of callers. Many prominent New York State and city officials visited the college during the week to support the event and meet the volunteers. City Councilman Daniel Garodnick (Democrat, 4th District) visited Citizenship Now! on May 2 and agreed to be interviewed by Guttman continuing students Raul Ramirez, Bianca Castro and Talia Arif. The students, who all have foreign-born parents, were interested in learning more about the Councilman’s thoughts on immigration.
To initiate the interview, Raul Ramirez asked Councilman Garodnick why he was interested in immigration. The Councilman explained that he identifies with the immigrant community because he has family from different places in the world, including Russia and Italy. He then pointed out that the majority of the people who live in his district are immigrants or children of immigrants, so it is only right to give back to the people in the community.
Bianca Castro was interested in what kind of work the Councilman has done related to immigration reform. As a Council Member who advocates for immigration change, Garodnick has advocated for the passage of the Dream Act, managed to get the City to change the policy [FOR THE] secure community programs, promotes English as a second language, has programs that are sponsored in the Council to promote opportunities for immigrants, and has engaged himself in a project to assist immigrants understand what forms of identification are necessary to open bank accounts. Council Member Garodnick does not want banks to serve as an unnecessary obstacle to any immigrant who may want to open a bank account.
To conclude the interview, Talia Arif asked the Councilman what the City Council’s role has been toward immigration policy. Dealing with local government, the Councilman’s role in the issue of immigration is more limited compared to officials in the federal government As the federal government creates immigration policy and structures the system, while local government determines the impact of the policies and attempts to respond to them on a community-based level. Garodnick stated that he will continue to advocate for immigration reform but noted that “… the biggest opportunity for impact is on the federal level.”