Agarwal New Commissioner for Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs

Commissioner Nisha Agarwal. (Photo via News India Times)

Commissioner Nisha Agarwal (Photo via News India Times)

Bill de Blasio has appointed civil and immigrant rights advocate Nisha Agarwal as commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, reports Ela Dutt in News India Times. Agarwal, who is of Indian descent, succeeds Bloomberg-era Commissioner Fatima Shama.

Announcing the appointment February 28, the mayor said, “We need people who share our progressive values related to the future of this city.”

At a news conference, de Blasio praised Agarwal’s upbringing in a family with a tradition of giving back and public service.

Agarwal, a lawyer, has a long public service record. She recently established the Immigrant Justice Corps. The nonprofit recruits and partners recent law school graduates with nonprofit legal services providers to offer legal representation to undocumented immigrants.

She has also served at the advocacy organization Center for Popular Democracy where she coordinated work on immigrant civil rights policy including campaigns related to immigration enforcement and integration, community policing, health disparities and a range of other issues.

Before joining CPD Agarwal was director of the Health Justice Program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, a nonprofit civil rights legal organization in New York City.

The mayor said one of Agarwal’s responsibilities will be to put in place the municipal ID cards program in New York City. She will also reach out to small, immigrant-owned businesses and work to end punitive deportation.

“There’s so much that the Office of Immigrant Affairs can do to help our fellow New Yorkers. But we knew for it to be effective, we needed someone with the experience, with the drive, and that sense of conscience of what is right and wrong,” de Blasio said.

Agarwal, in her remarks, promised to reach out to immigrant-owned small businesses, help English-language learners in schools and end policies that put hard-working people under threat of deportation.

“And we will launch the new municipal ID program this year, that will ensure that newcomers to our city are able – regardless of immigration status – to participate in all facets of the city – to sign leases, to open bank accounts, and to live their lives in the open.”


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