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12.05 New Voices

Queen Mother Moore, a civil and human rights advocate, receives proclamation from Council Member Una Clarke on February 24, 1992. Left to right: Unknown, Queen Mother Moore, Council Member Wendell Foster, Council Member Una Clarke, and Council Speaker Peter Vallone.

The Hart-Celler Immigration Act of 1965 enlarged the overall number of immigrants allowed each year to 290,000 with preferences given to people based on family reunification, job skills, and refugee status. The act opened the door to immigrants especially from Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. These new voices would transform the political landscape in the United States, especially in New York City, which was 36 percent foreign born by 2002.

The 2000 census shows that the three largest immigrant groups in New York City came from the British West Indies, the Dominican Republic, and China. In the last two decades, as these immigrants became citizens, they have been courted by gubernatorial and mayoral candidates, and have elected people from their own groups to the City Council and state legislature.

Una Clarke of Brooklyn became the first Caribbean immigrant elected to the City Council. Former City Councilmember Guillermo Linares of Washington Heights became the first Dominican elected to any position in the United States in 1991 and Assembly Member Adriano Espaillat became the first Dominican elected to a state legislature in 1996. Flushing, Queens, elected John Liu to the City Council in 2001, making him the first Chinese-American in New York City government.

Coucil Member-elect John Liu celebrating his victory, November 2001.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, N.Y.C. Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Guillermo Linares, and a Dominican student at teh Dominican 2000: Building Our National Agenda Conference at City College of New York, CUNY, Feb. 24-27, 2000.

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