New York Garifuna Call on State Legislature to Prioritize Public Policy on Immigration, Mental Health and Youth Opportunities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Mirtha Colon 718-213-5439

Tuesday, January 30, 2024, Bronx, NY. On January 30, a delegation of Garifuna - Afro-Central American - leaders from Guatemala and Honduras will meet with the New York State Legislature to spearhead our annual Garifuna Advocacy Day in Albany, NY. During these meetings, the Garifuna community will express to the legislature their public policy priorities and most pressing needs: improving immigration policy, investing in mental health infrastructure and fostering opportunities for youth. The annual event, led by the organizations Casa Yurumein and Hondurans Against AIDS, highlights the countless cultural, economic, social and civic contributions of the Garifuna community.

Mirtha Colon, president of Casa Yurumein and Hondurans Against AIDS, stated, "We are returning to the New York State capital to continue our dialogue with our elected representatives about the realities of the Garifuna people and to seek long-term solutions that will allow all Garifuna to live with dignity and have more opportunities."

Edwin Alvarez, Vice President of Casa Yurumein, stated, "We are committed to strengthening cooperation between civil society groups, state authorities, and city and federal officials. We come to present our priorities on the immigration situation, the critical reality of mental health and our desire to create positive spaces and growth for Garifuna youth in New York.

Karen Blanco Treasurer of Casa Yurumein highlighted: "Our delegation is very diverse and demographically representative of the Garifuna community in New York, with young people, seniors, women and men, all with a deep commitment to advocate for spaces and public policies that benefit not only us, but all immigrant communities in New York State".

Casa Yurumein and Alianza Americas board member Arnold Ciego emphasized, "This is a powerful exercise in civic engagement, led by a community historically impacted by inequities, systemic racism and forced migration. Our annual advocacy day allows us to break that cycle of injustice and build something more hopeful."

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About Casa Yurumein: Our mission is to improve the quality of life for African-Central American immigrants through culturally relevant programs and civic engagement. We recognize that understanding customs, beliefs and traditions, including underlying spiritual beliefs and family values, are crucial keys to being effective in these communities. We operate with a dedicated core of volunteer leaders and a Board of Directors comprised of Garifuna leaders. Our work ranges from HIV/AIDS prevention and education, public health advocacy including substance abuse, alcoholism, child abuse and neglect prevention, transnational public policy advocacy, and advocacy aimed at creating more humane and just immigration policies. Casa Yurumein in Garifuna means The Homeland.

About Hondurans Against AIDS: Since 1992 Hondurans Against AIDS has been a driving force in promoting health and community wellness in New York City. We emerged in response to concerns shared by a group of Central American Garifuna leaders triggered by the growing impact of HIV/AIDS. Over the years we have expanded our work to address issues of migration, human rights and public policy, and culture as an organizing tool to unite Garifuna communities.

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