23 Oct

Connecting with Global Migrant Leaders

Above:  Melina Gonzalez (third from right, bottom row) with other migrant and immigration advocates at the TMDD training in Dublin.

LSA’s Melina Gonzalez Traveled to Ireland to Share Our Immigration Outreach Strategies

The NPNA (National Partnership for New Americans) invited our Immigration Outreach Organizer, Melina Gonzalez, to participate in the “Transatlantic Migrant Democracy Dialogue: Nothing About Us Without Us — Migrant Leadership Convening, ” from October 12-14, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland.

This training brought together 50+ migrant and refugee leaders from across Europe and US to discuss the current political climate, work being done around migration and refugee rights, and key models/strategies. Melina was the spokesperson for the We Lead program and the Community Navigators in NYC.

According to the Immigrant Council of Ireland: “The purpose of the Transatlantic Migrant Democracy Dialogue is to harness migrant leadership and building of migrant-led movements across Europe. It’s an opportunity for peer learning, information exchange and to sharpen expertise – it’s also a chance to work alongside like-minded, determined, passionate change-makers and have a lot of fun! The training attracted migrant leaders from 50 nationalities resident in Europe.”

Melina describes the experience:

The main reason for me to go to the “Transatlantic Migrant Democracy Dialogue (TMDD 2018)” in Dublin, Ireland, was to learn how European countries are working with immigrants and their communities and to share how we work with immigrant communities in the U.S.  It has been one of the best work experiences ever! Before I knew it, I was surrounded by all the diversity that makes life more colorful, exciting and joyful.

I achieved so many things in the TMDD–it exceeded my expectations! I met an incredible number of people in a brief period. Many have become real friends, and most have participated in making my experience unforgettable.

The cultural exposure was the most exciting part of my journey, and I experienced it daily. Being surrounded by people from all over the world speaking different languages makes you feel like you are in an ‘open country’ which welcomes everyone and gives everyone a chance. 

I never thought that I would be able to do so much in such a short period. Visiting EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum was an exciting experience. I could easily imagine the journey and hopes of immigrants arriving and leaving Ireland. Traveling, working and living abroad makes one grow and become more confident; it opens minds and is self-rewarding. It forces people to ask questions, to listen, to be patient, to take initiative, to understand others. I like to think that cross-cultural experiences should be mandatory today; it could solve some of the world’s problems.

A presentation at the TMDD training in Dublin, Ireland.

10 Nov

Know Your Rights

Know Your Rights Workshop

Know Your Rights workshops inform and prepare immigrants and their damilies

The neighborhood of East Harlem has traditionally been a home to immigrants, from its roots as the city’s first Little Italy, to its transformation to “El Barrio” and the recent influx of immigrants from China, Africa and the Middle East.

Having an Immigration Outreach Coordinator on staff helps LSA to respond quickly to the flood of questions that arise when something changes with immigration policy. Melina Gonzalez has been in the role since July. The position was previously held by client advocate Pura Cruz. Through a partnership with Action NYC (from the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs), Melina conducts Know Your Rights workshops at schools, churches, food pantries and other locations throughout the community.

In addition, she makes appointments for individuals seeking legal help to meet with free legal advisors through CUNY Citizenship Now! and Legal Aid Society. On average she schedules about 50 such appointments each month, and clients meet with the legal advisor at LSA—in other words, in their own community.

Her message is for families to be organized, informed and prepared. “They need to know what their rights are, they need to have their documents organized, and their children need to have their passports,” Melina said.

The demand for the Know Your Rights workshop remains great. Churches and schools have reached out to Melina to conduct the workshop for their communities. “People are interested in knowing how to be prepared,” she said.

11 Nov

Protecting the American Dream

Updated: February 1, 2017

LSA Family Health Service stands with immigrants, refugees and people of all faiths, and supports national and local policies that preserve and protect the rights of immigrant families.  LSA will continue to provide Health & Wellness programs and Family Support services without regard to immigration status.  We are committed to the families of East Harlem. We are friends and neighbors, and we work together to make the community better for everyone regardless of country of origin, religion, or ethnicity.  

November 11, 2016

Dear Friend,

Elections, by their very nature, create uncertainty about the future.  For the families LSA serves, the vast majority of them first or second generation immigrants, the uncertainty they live with every day is now amplified.

LSA Family Health Service is uniquely positioned to address this heightened uncertainty.  We are located in a largely immigrant neighborhood, and our history has been one of meeting the unique needs of this population.  Our Parenting and Child Development program is, in essence, an immigrant socialization program for young families, our Advocacy/Food Pantry program offers assistance with benefits access and legal problems, and our Home Nursing and Environmental Health programs provide essential health services regardless of status.

Because of our expertise, location, and mission, we are going to double-down on services.

We are focusing our efforts to make sure these services continue at this critical point.  And we are reaching out to our clients and community to let them know that we stand steadfastly with them, and are prepared to help and support them in any way we can, as we always have.

In New York City, the positive impact immigrants have made in the last 40 years is profound.  According to the Americas Society and Council of the Americas (AS/COA)*:

  • Crime tends to fall faster in precincts receiving more immigrants. For every 1 percent increase in a precinct’s population due to immigration, an average of 966 fewer crimes are committed each year.
  •  Immigration is responsible for reversing New York City’s population decline, helping the economy to thrive once again. Without the immigrants that arrived since 1980, the city’s property tax base would be $500 billion lower than it is today.
  • Immigrants are contributing to the personal wealth of city homeowners. The roughly 2 million immigrants who have arrived in New York since the 1980s are responsible for a $188 billion boost to home equity citywide.

At LSA, the immigrants we know are parents who go without in order to provide for their children. They work 12, 15, 18 hours a day at the lowest paying jobs, in order to provide their children the best opportunity for the future they can give. They come to us eager to contribute to the greater society, and we welcome them with open doors.

To our extended family of volunteers, partners and supporters:

We reaffirm our commitment to protecting the health, well-being and safety of immigrant families that contribute so much to New York City.  We will continue to support them as they pursue the American dream.


Reada Bunin Edelstein