Calling it a “hallmark achievement for our city,” City Council candidate John Lisyanskiy, who emigrated from the Ukraine to the United States two decades ago, praised the city’s new $18 million program to assist undocumented immigrants.
“In 1992, I emigrated here with my family from the Ukraine. I began my career in politics because I believe strongly in democratic government and I am proud that our city has taken this groundbreaking step to protect immigrants. The process of citizenship is not easy, and I believe we can make it better through programs like this,” Lisyanskiy, a financial analyst in the City Council’s budget division, said.
The New York Daily News reported on July 17 that the city plans to spend $18 million over the next two years helping undocumented immigrants get jobs, driver’s licenses and Social Security cards.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced the plan on Wednesday. Under the plan, the city will build 16,000 adult education seats for immigrants seeking to defer deportation, adding to the 20,500 who have already been granted this privilege. In order to qualify, immigrants must have either a high school diploma, a general educational certificate, or must currently be enrolled in school.
In addition to the adult education classes, the city will also pay for a pilot program to create the nation’s first public defender system for immigrants facing deportation. The $18 million project is the largest investment made by any city in the country to help immigrants obtain a deferral from deportation, Lisyanskiy said.
Congress, which has yet to pass comprehensive immigration reform, should take a page from New York, according to Lisyanskiy. “While our city works to protect our diverse population, our federal government remains stagnant to pass comprehensive immigration reform. While today’s plan will help 16,000 residents, there are hundreds of thousands more who need our help,” he said.
“I urge cities across our country to echo this breakthrough plan so that we can better serve our immigrant population nationwide. My parents came here for a better life and today 16,000 more New Yorkers will begin on a path to citizenship to do the same,” he said.
Lisyanskiy is running in the Democratic primary for the council seat in the 47th District, representing Coney Island, Gravesend, and parts of Bensonhurst. The seat is currently held by Democrat Domenic Recchia Jr., who is term-limited and cannot run for re-election. In addition to Lisyanskiy, the other candidates in the Democratic primary are Mark Treyger, Todd Dobrin, and Pastor Connis Mobley. The winner will take on Republican Andy Sullivan in the general election in November.
Lisyanskiy is the founder of the Russian-Speaking American Leadership Caucus, a coalition of Russian-speaking lawyers, doctors, academics, law enforcement officers, media personalities and civic leaders.