michelle molina

Executive Director, El Centro del Inmigrante

As Executive Director of El Centro del Inmigrante, my mission is to promote the economic advancement and well-being of immigrant workers and their families.

The neighborhood you live or work in:

I work in the Port Richmond area.

What makes you so passionate about the work of the Task Force?

We are honored to be a part of a larger group that has recognized the urgent need to address hate crimes against immigrants, people of various ethnic backgrounds, people of color, of different religious beliefs, with lgbtq status, and other traditionally marginalized communities. Port Richmond, the area primarily served by El Centro del Inmigrante, is largely an immigrant neighborhood (US Census 2019, 61% Hispanic). Our neighborhood received national attention roughly a decade ago for hate crimes perpetrated against the new Mexican immigrant community. Despite an up stepped awareness, hate crimes sadly continue against immigrants, impoverished individuals and day laborers here. We are thankful to have others working along our side to help survivors of hate crimes to feel comfortable coming forward and to bring larger attention to this urgent issue that has broader social ramifications.

What’s your story?

SI El Centro del Inmigrante was formed in 1997 and was the first group to recognize the extraordinary number of newcomers from Mexico moving to the Port Richmond neighborhood and areas nearby. Launched as a collaboration between St. Mary’s R.C. Church with Project Hospitality and a group of immigrant leaders in the community, El Centro has since become a touchstone for new immigrants from across the borough. We are one of the handful of day labor and domestic worksites in the city that creates a safe environment for prospective employers and laborers. We also provide a range of vital services to the community, including a food pantry, ESL classes, tutoring for students, OSHA classes, tax assistance, legal help with DACA and general immigration services, benefits connections and more.

Describe the climate for new immigrants coming to Staten Island. What’s the good & the bad.

 On the negative side, immigrants face many daily challenges such as deportation, unemployment, wage theft, the high cost of housing and the lack of a public hospital on the island make also the health care system difficult to navigate and receive services.

On the positive side, NYC is a sanctuary city and the municipal jurisdiction limits their cooperation with the national government's effort to enforce immigration law. The District Attorney's Office has an Immigrant Affairs Unit that assists workers through wage theft, fraud, and continuously educates our communities to prevent victimization. Also, there are coalitions and The Commission on Human Rights that support immigrant communities. There are non-profit organizations such as El Centro Del Inmigrante where services like a community job center are available to them regardless of immigration status, low cost health care programs and many more services to individuals and families of low income.
Learn more about our HCTF members
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John Mcbeth
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Lisa Sloan, PHD

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Michelle Molina
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Scott Maurer
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Tahir Kukaj