Public Advocate for All: Immigrant Action Endorses Melissa Mark-Viverito

NEW YORK, NY - Today, Immigrant Action (New York State Immigrant Action Fund), the political arm of the New York Immigration Coalition, announced its endorsement of Melissa Mark-Viverito for New York City Public Advocate. The endorsement followed a rigorous process of questionnaires, candidate interviews and an examination of the track records of all candidates.

Steven Choi, Executive Director of Immigrant Action, issued the following statement:

“While there were many deserving candidates for Public Advocate, we are proud to announce our endorsement of Melissa Mark-Viverito. She has a distinguished track record as a fierce ally for immigrant New Yorkers as Councilmember and then as Speaker of the Council. She has the strongest track record thus far of any Speaker in this City’s history – spearheading the City’s first-ever detainer law to keep ICE out of our justice system, the IDNYC program that has welcomed millions of the City’s immigrants into civic life, and new landmark immigration legal assistance programs such as iCare and the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project that provide free lawyers to thousands of immigrants and protect them from deportation.

At a time when immigrant communities are under constant assault by the federal government, she has already declared she will fight unapologetically for two of the most important immigrant rights’ issues at this moment – access to driver’s licenses and the right to vote in municipal elections. New York City needs a Public Advocate who is willing to take strong action to protect and defend New York’s three million immigrants and all City residents. We are proud to endorse Melissa Mark-Viverito to create a more just city for all.”

“I'm deeply honored to receive the endorsement of the New York State Immigrant Action Fund. My entire career has focused on equity and justice for all New Yorkers -- no matter their immigration status or where they were born. From leading the launch of IDNYC, to forcing the city to fund lawyers for all undocumented immigrants, to kicking ICE off Rikers, I have made immigrants' rights my core mission. As Public Advocate, I will continue to fight for our immigrant brothers and sisters and stand up to the hateful policies coming out of this White House," said Public Advocate candidate Melissa Mark-Viverito. "Immigrant Action’s support makes clear this campaign is about championing our immigrant communities and making sure every New Yorker has the opportunity to succeed."

While serving as Speaker of the New York City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito was a strong advocate for immigrant New Yorkers. Her legacy includes but is not limited to: 

  • Limiting cooperation of City law enforcement with ICE in City-owned properties – courts, schools, prisons – and abolishing the requirement for the Department of Corrections and NYPD to comply with ICE requests. 

  • Providing $1.5 million for the New Immigrant Health Initiative with the goal of reducing health disparities among immigrant communities.

  • Sponsoring legislation to broaden language access to immigrants by requiring City agencies to communicate in the city’s ten top languages.

  • Spearheading the IDNYC program to provide municipal identification cards for all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, opening the door to civic opportunity and engagement for immigrant residents.


The New York State Immigrant Action Fund (Immigrant Action) was originally formed in 2010 as a sister organization to the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), a non-partisan 501(c)(3) coalition with 200 member organizations across New York State that does not endorse candidates.

Immigrant Action’s endorsement process consists of questionnaires, face-to-face interviews, candidate platform evaluations – proposed or envisioned – and a final vote from Immigrant Action board members.

In order to increase the political potency of the immigrant vote, Immigrant Action endorses candidates and elected officials who stand up for immigrant communities and against anti-immigrant opponents. Immigrant Action engages in targeted advocacy on specific immigrant-related issues such as legislative scorecards, pointed advocacy flyers highlighting individual elected officials’ stances, and intensive grassroots and direct lobbying of elected officials.

The New York Immigration Coalition’s top legislative priority is to expand driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants and is moving to invest $1 million in a statewide campaign to get it passed this year. The NYIC will be engaging its members in all five boroughs in advocacy efforts to get the bill passed. 

Already in place in 12 other states plus D.C., the legislation would allow undocumented immigrants to drive legally while bringing in an estimated $57 million in state and county revenues. It would also be a boon for public transportation, with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) receiving an additional $8.6 million in annual revenue from New York City, Long Island, and Lower Hudson surcharges to car registration, gas tax, and sales tax, as well as $2.2 million in one-time revenue from the driver’s licenses surcharge.