By Joseph Spector
ALBANY Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday an Office for New Americans, the first statewide office to focus on the state's immigrants.
The office will include 27 neighborhood-based opportunity centers to help immigrants learn English, prepare for citizenship and enter the workforce, particularly to start their own businesses. They will be housed at community-based offices, including in Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Ithaca and White Plains.
"By establishing the Office for New Americans, we are helping our state live up to the promise of the Lady in our Harbor and ensure that New York remains a land of opportunity for all," Cuomo said in a statement.
Immigration to New York from foreign countries reached 1.2 million people in the 1990s, but dropped to 895,150 new immigrants between 2000 and 2010, a report in 2011 from the Empire Center for New York State Policy found. As of 2010, New York's foreign-born population was about 21 percent of the total 19.4 million people, the report said. Only California had more immigrants, at 27 percent of its population.
The state is setting up the New Americans hotline, a toll-free, multi-lingual information center, as well as a website. The hotline number is 800-566-7636, and the website is www.newamericans.ny.gov.
The opportunity centers will have resources to help immigrants, as well as attorneys in immigration law, the state said.
Here's the list of the centers in WNY:
• Erie (Buffalo) - Catholic Charities of Buffalo - 20 Herkimer Street, Buffalo, NY 14213
• Monroe (Rochester) - Rochester Collaborative for New Americans (Catholic Family Center) - Rochester Public Library, Somali Community of Western, NY - 87 North Clinton, Rochester, NY 14604