Civil Rights

Chris has been an outspoken proponent of civil rights throughout her career. Driven by a passion for equality and justice, she has worked with New York’s many diverse communities to protect housing and employment rights and fight bias-related harassment. She has also worked extensively with the NYPD and community leaders to fight hate crimes, distribute information about suspects and ensure that there is one system of justice for all communities.

Committed to fighting on behalf of all New Yorkers, Chris’s work in the field of civil rights has helped make the City just and fair, for residents of all races, genders, sexualities and backgrounds.

 As Speaker, Chris:

  • Helped secure marriage equality in New York State.
  • Pushed through changes to the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) resulting in increased transparency and oversight in cases of alleged police misconduct.
  • Sponsored the 2002 Transgender Civil Rights legislation, which outlawed discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression
  • In response to groups of protesters intimidating and harassing women who were trying to enter reproductive health clinics, Chris passed a law making it a crime to obstruct access to such clinics.
  • Introduced legislation prohibiting potential employers from discriminating against job applicants based on length of unemployment.
  • Passed a law to reduce unnecessary immigrant deportations in New York City, preventing the Department of Corrections from detaining non-criminals and turning them over to Immigration Customs and Enforcement.
  • Worked with the Department of Education to create “Respect for All”, one of the most expansive anti-bullying programs in the nation.
  • After a series of anti-Mexican hate crimes in Staten Island, she co-founded "I AM SI" coalition, secured a mix of public and private funding for lighting improvements and security cameras to increase public safety, and created after-school programs for at-risk youth.
  • Passed a law making it illegal for landlords to discriminate against prospective tenants for paying with Section 8 vouchers or any other legal form of payment.
  • Organized elected officials, clergy, and community leaders in a citywide Day Out Against Hate. 
  • Worked with the Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus to push the radio station rating company Arbitron to make changes that would protect the economic survival of New York’s ethnic radio stations.

As Mayor, Chris plans to:

  • Guarantee universal legal representation to New Yorkers threatened with deportation based on immigration status. From 2005 to 2010, more than 7,000 U.S. citizen children in New York City lost a parent to deportation, causing tremendous financial, emotional and psychological costs to those families. Quality legal representation has been found to increase a potential deportee’s likelihood of winning the right to remain in the U.S. by 1,000 percent. But there aren’t enough services available to meet current need. Chris will provide additional funding to legal aid organizations and immigration advocates to ensure that there is legal representation available to all of the 1,800 New Yorkers who face permanent exile from their homes and families every year.
  • Provide comprehensive legal services and resources in schools. Education provides immigrant families with a pathway to the middle class, and for many undocumented immigrants, our public schools are one of the few government run institutions they regularly interact with and trust. Chris will bring comprehensive legal services to schools, helping students and their families get on the path to citizenship or legal residency, and access important benefits. Her Department of Education will partner with a network of legal service providers, law schools, and immigrant advocates to provide resources, education and legal services — starting in ten schools in neighborhoods with the highest percentage of immigrant families.
  • Create NYC Legal Fellowship to attract top legal talent to help immigrant families. New York City faces a shortage of immigration attorneys, which makes it difficult for all immigrant families in the five boroughs to access the services they need. To attract more top legal talent to helping immigrant families in New York City, Chris will working with foundations, law schools, retired immigration lawyers, and legal service providers to create a NYC Legal Fellowship, the first program of this kind in the country. The NYC Legal Fellowship would pair new law school graduates and early-career lawyers with those nearing and in retirement. Legal Fellows would receive stipends and spend up to two years working with the non-profit legal service providers, giving them real world experience and a chance to give back to the community.
  • Form a Mayoral Task Force to combat Notario fraud. Notario fraud — individuals who falsely represent themselves as qualified to offer legal advice or services — is a problem that plagues many immigrant communities. Victims of Notario fraud often lose thousands of dollars and can end up facing deportation and separation from their families as a result of problematic legal advice. Chris will convene a Mayoral Task Force of law enforcement and criminal justice officials to design a coordinated approach to target these Notarios and connect potential victims to quality legal services.
  • Make sure city programs are effectively serving and accessible to all LGBT New Yorkers by including sexual orientation and gender identity in all data collection and outreach. In order for New York City to provide effective services to all of our residents and present these services in a welcoming and affirming way we need to collect the appropriate data about our citizens’ needs and service outcomes. But right now many city surveys don’t include the option for New Yorkers to indicate their sexual orientation or gender identity. As mayor, Chris will ensure that surveys and other data collection by the city include appropriate categories for tracking LGBT residents, especially transgender New Yorkers, who may have very distinct health and other needs.
  • Advocate for LGBT New Yorkers in Albany and Washington, D.C. There are numerous pieces of legislation pending in Albany and Washington, D.C. that are of tremendous importance to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender New Yorkers, including the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, federal anti-bullying legislation, immigration equality and marriage equality. Chris is committed to using the techniques she so successfully employed in her advocacy for New York State same-sex marriage legislation to continue to advocate at the federal and state levels for the rights of LGBT New Yorkers. Here in New York State, Chris will ensure that the Governor and the state legislature understand the importance to New York City residents of legislation like the 30 percent rent cap for people living with HIV/AIDS to equalize treatment with other low income New Yorkers. And, if the State Senate fails to do its job and pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban discrimination against transgender New Yorkers, Chris will advocate strongly for the passage of the bill in the next session.
  • Make New York City the first city to completely eradicate hate crimes. Ending hate crimes will be among Chris’ top priorities as mayor. We must end attacks against New Yorkers based on who they love, where they are from, what language they speak, or what religion they believe in. Chris will ensure appropriate police presence in areas where hate crime incidents occur, and will work with schools to strengthen curricula and activities that promote tolerance and respect for all. She’ll also continue to ensure that community anti-violence organizations consistently receive the funding needed to combat hate violence, and will also push for additional public awareness of hate crime issues through community forums, marketing campaigns and special events that engage communities of faith, such as the Interfaith Weekend Against Hate.
  • Put an end to street harassment of women and LGBT people.  The City Council allocated $20,000 last year toward creating an expanded version of Hollaback’s app that will collect demographics, locational information and information on the specifics of an incident or attack, as well as what, if any, formal reporting process the person went through. With this new tool, New York City will be the first city to undertake an effort to gather the data needed to understand scope of street harassment and how to reduce incidents of harassment. Chris will use this information to hold community safety audits, a United Nations-recognized best practice for assessing the level of safety from gender-based violence in a community. Community safety audits result in increased community engagement and concrete improvements.
  • Create a municipal ID available to all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status.  As Mayor, Chris will create a municipal ID program that is available to all New Yorkers regardless of immigration status. Currently, roughly 18 percent of immigrants living, working and going to school in the city are undocumented immigrants. This card will provide more than 500,000 New Yorkers access to critical services in areas like health, employment and education.
  • Make sure every qualified New Yorker can take advantage of DACA and stay in the city. Under the Deferred Action Program, roughly 79,000 New Yorkers have a chance to work legally in the country if they have the right education. Unfortunately, the city’s workforce programs don’t have enough seats meaning 16,000 people are at risk for deportation. Chris will provide funding to ensure that there are enough seats in these programs for every qualified young person to use Deferred Action to stay in the country and get a good job.
  • Give every mobility impaired older New Yorker access to technology to help them remain active and social, and access emergency assistance.  We need to make sure that homebound New Yorkers are not isolated in their apartments where they are at greater risk of health issues, depression, and elder abuse. As Mayor, Chris will create a public-private partnership to provide homebound or mobility impaired seniors with access to the Internet, computers or mobile technology, and hands-on tech training.  We’ll start with those who are most in need: the socially isolated; patients being sent home from the hospital and facing long, homebound recoveries; and seniors whose financial security has been threatened by loss of a job or difficulty finding work.  Robust and active engagement with the outside world through technology access will keep our seniors active and engaged in our city and can literally become a lifeline in cases of elder abuse or natural disasters. 
  • Expand mental health support and alternatives to incarceration that focus on veterans. New York has been a pioneer in creating alternative courts that work to provide support for veterans who may have gotten in trouble because of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or another combat-related injury. Chris will expand veteran courts that provide judges and counselors who understand the issues impacting veterans and ensure that people who’ve served their country are treated with the respect they’ve earned. As mayor, she will provide grants that include basic stipends to support the travel and expenses of veterans volunteering as peer support counselors for Veterans Courts. Chris will also develop and promote a certification program that would train mental health professionals in military culture and the unique challenges faced by service members, veterans and their families. Lastly, she will make sure that the city develops and aggressively disseminates combat stress injury training programs for civilian health professionals who treat veterans outside of the VA such as police, EMTs and college counselors.
  • Make New York City’s pregnancy non-discrimination laws more effective. Current laws that prevent discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace do not explicitly require workplace accommodations that make it possible for women to maintain a healthy pregnancy and continue to effectively perform their jobs. As mayor, Chris would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant women at their request.

  • Strengthen law enforcement response to sexual assault and domestic violence. We have great specially trained experts in the police department that assist victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, but we need to do more. As mayor, Chris will increase the number of dual language speaking officers trained to respond to these issues, so that the story of the non-English speaking party, very often the victim, is also heard. She’ll make sure all officers know how to respond appropriately to complaints of street harassment. She’ll also ensure that training doesn’t stop at the academy, and that all officers are re-trained in dealing with sexual assault and domestic violence calls throughout their careers.