His grandfather came to the country and worked as a dishwasher, while his grandmother was a seamstress. They both learned to speak English while taking the train to work everyday.
“That is my immigrant story, and there are millions of those stories throughout our city, hundreds of millions throughout our country,” Constantinides said. “We all win if we support one another, if we support the version of America where we all are immigrants.”
Last Tuesday, Constantinides announced funding for immigration services that was included in the budget for Fiscal Year 2019, including money for the Ansob Center for Immigrants and Refugees, and the CUNY Citizenship Now! Program.
The Ansob Center received $70,000 to increase their extensive immigration services. The center offers free legal services to immigrants, assistance on citizenship applications, green card applications for refugees, temporary protected status, job placement and English classes.
Cathleen Joyce, executive director of the Ansob Center, said this funding will allow them to continue these services to immigrants in Queens and throughout the city.
“I cannot tell you how important your support has been to the community,” Joyce said to the councilman. “That people have a safe place to come in the neighborhood, I think is very important.”
CUNY Citizenship Now! received a funding increase of $500,000, which raises their total budget to $2.5 million. The program provides immigrants seeking citizenship with free guidance from attorneys, making their journey to citizenship more efficient.
Stephanie Delia, the program’s managing attorney, shared that the number of people who have come to their agency seeking help has tripled in the last couple of years.
“During this time, it is so important for people, specifically immigrants, to be able to get accurate information, to be able to access attorneys,” she said. “We really appreciate the support.”
Constantinides left an open invitation to anyone seeking help of any kind in the quest to become an American citizen.
“We all have to make sure that for every immigrant that’s here, for every immigrant interested in seeking their citizenship and their part of the American dream, that we’re gonna support them,” he said.