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About the Ellis Island Initiative

The Ellis Island Initiative is a statewide coalition of New York’s leading labor, business, faith and advocacy organizations aiming to transform the state’s approach to integrating migrant families into our communities.

Over the last year and a half, New York has welcomed more than 100,000 asylum seekers who've fled violence and persecution in their home countries.

While this influx has undoubtedly proven challenging to local officials, the arrival of migrant families represents a real opportunity to revitalize upstate local economies, fill open jobs in local industries, and provide new opportunities for local small businesses.

To meet this moment, the Ellis Island Initiative is convening leading voices from across the ideological spectrum to highlight how communities all over New York can benefit from a thoughtful, non-political approach to integrating new immigrants.

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By putting migrants to work, filling these workforce needs and highlighting the resulting opportunities for local residents, we believe we have a historic opportunity to supercharge New York’s economy and address the top priorities of our local residents, including:

  • Reducing local burdens: Getting migrants to work will help them earn wages to support themselves and reduce reliance on taxpayer-funded government services.
  • Treating people fairly: Letting migrants work would treat them with fairness and humanity and allow them to live with dignity in our great state.
  • Opening up opportunities for local residents: : The multi-billion-dollar investment in supporting asylum-seekers is a major potential opportunity for local small businesses to earn business - for security, food production, construction, and services.  Getting local businesses to get a piece of this pie can give a much-needed jolt to our local economies.

Our approach includes:

Support local employers and potential workers by identifying gaps in workforce development and job training programs to create pathways to quality jobs for all New Yorkers

Provide guidance for local residents and small businesses on how to take advantage of business opportunities in security, food production, construction, legal and other support services as part of the state's investment to support the new arrivals

Convene local business, labor, faith and civic stakeholders that will work closely with elected officials to develop common-sense, thoughtful approaches to integrating migrants safely and productively

Provide local volunteer opportunities to help integrate migrants into the fabric of local communities and serve as first points of contact with local communities.

Our Coalition

Thank You to Our Funders


Rochester hosts meeting designed to help recent migrants get established in the U.S.

An effort in New York state to bring together labor, business, faith and advocacy organizations to help migrant families get established was the focus of a meeting Thursday in Rochester. It was part of the state’s Ellis Island Initiative, which seeks to, among other things, connect recent migrants and asylum seekers with thousands of open jobs in New York.

February 23, 2024

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Initiative helps newly arriving migrants find work in the Rochester region

Migrants are arriving in New York in large numbers, and local and state leaders have plans to help them feel welcome. With more than 500,000 jobs open across the state, the Ellis Island Initiative is bringing together labor, business and faith groups to connect migrants with those opportunities.

February 23, 2024

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The solution to New York’s healthcare staffing crisis? New arrivals.

Eloisa has wanted to help patients since she was little. She was a doctor in El Salvador but had to work three jobs here — and she still couldn’t make ends meet. Thanks to this apprenticeship, Eloisa is expected to finish her training and become a CNA in March, securing a good-paying job for her family while also helping New York address an urgent staffing shortage.

February 7, 2024

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