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Fall Focus on Westchester’s Growing Immigrant Population

About 50 community groups joined local immigrants for a summit at Westchester Community College on the effects and needs of the growing immigrant community. Courtesy: New York Immigration Coalition
About 50 community groups joined local immigrants for a summit at Westchester Community College on the effects and needs of the growing immigrant community. Courtesy: New York Immigration Coalition
September 8, 2015

NEW YORK - As we head into fall, more than 200 immigrants and representatives from advocacy groups spent one of the final days of summer at a summit, addressing the impacts and needs of Westchester's rapidly-growing immigrant population.

Steven Choi, executive director with the New York Immigration Coalition, says more than 250,000 immigrants now call Westchester home. He describes them as a driving force in terms of revitalizing the county.

"They make up more than one out of every four Westchester residents," says Choi. "They've really built up the workforce, they've been able to bring tremendous vibrancy and energy to Westchester, and breathe new life into sagging downtowns."

While immigrants are making a big contribution in Westchester, Choi says the county needs to do more to make sure services are accessible to a broad spectrum of residents, including immigrants from Latin American, Asian and African countries.

About 50 community service organization and legal service providers participated in the daylong summit at Westchester Community College. Choi says much of the focus was on identifying the types of services immigrants need, and how community groups can collaborate with local government and each other to help meet those needs.

"There's not the level of services that would really properly be able to allow immigrants to integrate and immigrants continue to be the targets of mistrust and fear - and sometimes, outright hate," Choi says.

Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino addressed the summit and pledged to work with the immigrant advocacy groups on these issues.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY