State Controller Thomas DiNapoli hails volunteers at CUNY/Daily News Citizenship Now! call center as 'heroes'

Aaron Holmes

New York Daily News

Jun 21, 2017

State Controller Thomas DiNapoli offered overflowing praise Wednesday to the volunteers answering immigrants’ questions at the CUNY/Daily News Citizenship Now! call-in center.

“It really is an incredible effort,” DiNapoli said. “You are our heroes, and I can’t thank you enough.”

DiNapoli was among four city and state pols who visited the Citizenship Now! headquarters at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan.

The hotline — open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. — has answered more than 7,500 calls this week, with over 3,000 Wednesday alone.

The 80 phone lines will be open through Friday.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. eagerly took questions from Spanish-language callers seeking free immigration advice.

He later suggested the Trump administration was to blame for creating a climate of fear among immigrants.

“The rhetoric from Washington is putting a lot of fear (into immigrant communities),” Diaz said.

“People are afraid to go to the emergency room. They think ICE is there.”

Diaz added that the Bronx’s surging immigrant population has played a major role in boosting the borough’s economic fortunes.

“I wish Washington would see that,” he said.

“With all of the buffoonery that we hear I wish they could come down and visit my borough.”

Bronx Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer were also among the city politicians who dropped by to hail the volunteers.

“This is a time of particular challenge and I think you all know that,” Brewer said. “It never ends with the need for your service.”

In hailing the role newcomers play in the U.S., DiNapoli noted that his parents immigrated to Brooklyn from Italy.

“New York City and State would not be what we are without the inflow of immigrants to our great city and great state,” DiNapoli said.

New York trails only California in the size of its immigrant population, the controller said.

“Nearly a third of the economic output of our city is due to the hard work of immigrants,” DiNapoli said.

“Immigrants are the strength of our community.”