Voices of NY’s Best of 2017

The year 2017 brought dramatic change and a host of challenges, as a new president issued a ban on entry into the U.S. by residents of majority-Muslim countries, encouraged government agents to step up arrests and deportations of undocumented residents, boosted conservative candidates and tweeted to a racist and hate-mongering base of his supporters. Also in 2017, the opioid crisis drew increasing attention, while natural disasters seemed to occur with greater frequency, culminating in the terrifying force of Hurricane María, which cut a destructive path across Puerto Rico.

Voices of NY tracked all of these news topics, picking up extensive coverage by New York’s media outlets that serve immigrants and communities of color, and supplementing that with original reporting by students from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and freelancers.

Days after his inauguration, Donald Trump issued his executive order declaring a ban on U.S. entry by citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations, and Voices of NY covered both the airport protests the weekend the first move was announced, and subsequent protests in lower Manhattan and at Washington Square Park.

Stories on what was happening to immigrants, especially to the undocumented, were front and center in 2017. There was regular coverage in El Diario/La Prensa of ICE arrests as well as rumored ICE roundups, and as fears swept through immigrant communities, the Chinese press checked in with a rumor that seized one neighborhood about arrests at a local subway station, while hospitals felt the need to assure immigrants that it was safe to come to the emergency room and to receive medical treatment, even if they were undocumented. In Westchester, the county executive’s veto of a law protecting immigrants fanned fears of deportations.

The sanctuary movement gained strength in NYC, as volunteers stepped in to accompany individuals to hearings at Federal Plaza downtown. A video profiled one active volunteer in the sanctuary movement. And the ethnic press covered the life of one Guatemalan mother who took refuge with her children in a Washington Heights church.

The undocumented who helped with clean-up efforts following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and now suffer from chronic health problems were the subject of a photo essay, while DACA recipients discussed their concerns about their status early in the year – only to find the worst fears confirmed when Trump announced that the DACA program would end.

Across the city, topics such as health and affordable housing continued to concern immigrant and minority communities. Voices of NY profiled community health workers reaching out to residents of East Harlem, and reported on how residents in the South Bronx received training in administering naloxone to counteract potentially deadly overdoses. LGBTQ concerns received attention at a new health center in Washington Heights. And rezoning and housing were big issues in many communities, from Crown Heights to East Harlem to Inwood.

Municipal elections in New York offered little excitement, as Mayor Bill de Blasio was handily re-elected. But at the district level, some races were noteworthy for the new entrants: the first Palestinian-American to run for a City Council seat, Rev. Khader El-Yateem, was profiled in Voices of NY, and the Chinese press as well as Queens papers ran stories about Alison Tan, wife of Assemblyman Ron Kim, who challenged City Council member Peter Koo.

New York has the largest population of Puerto Ricans living in the diaspora. Voices of NY ran a story about theatre artists from Puerto Rican participating in the Puerto Rican Day Parade, and following Hurricane María ran two moving personal accounts – one by former Voices of NY editor Maite Junco and the other by Vanessa Colón-Almenas of the 2018 class of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism – describing the devastating aftermath.

Scroll through the slideshow above for links to these stories and more from 2017.

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