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Sayu Bhojwani
Sayu Bhojwani is the Founding Executive Director of the New American Leaders Project (NALP). Prior to NALP, Sayu served as the New York
City’s first Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs under Mayor Michael R.
Bloomberg, from 2002 to 2004. During her tenure as Commissioner, New York City established Immigrant Heritage Week to honor the contributions and cultures of immigrant communities in the City. Her office facilitated the passage of the earliest laws to increase immigrants’ access to translation and interpretation — Local Law 73 — and spearheaded the writing and Mayor’s signing of Executive Order 41, an unprecedented policy to protect the confidentiality of immigration status for those seeking City services.

In 1996, Sayu started South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!), to develop the
leadership potential of immigrant youth in Queens. The first and only
organization of its kind, SAYA! currently works with over 500 youth each
year. Sayu holds a M.Ed. in Comparative Education from Teachers’ College,
Columbia University, and is a recipient of numerous awards for her community leadership. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate in the Politics and Education program at Columbia University, where she is researching the role that public schools play in shaping immigrant students’ civic stance. Sayu
serves on the boards of the National Immigration Forum and The AfterSchool
Corporation (TASC). She is an immigrant of Indian descent who was raised in Belize, Central America, and is a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Entries by Sayu Bhojwani

America's Heritage Is Immigrant Heritage

(0) Comments | Posted June 25, 2015 | 4:21 PM

This month marks the second annual Immigrant Heritage Month, an opportunity to reflect on the historic and contemporary impact immigration has had on our country's economic, cultural and political life.

Although not lost on most Americans, the importance of immigration seems to be far from the minds of most...

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On Election Night, Check out the Happiest Place on Earth

(0) Comments | Posted October 31, 2014 | 1:56 PM

The birthplace of modern conservatism and the "happiest place on Earth", Orange County, California may be known for its sunshine, orange groves, and wealth. But it also has deep political roots. Once home to a thriving chapter of the deeply conspiratorial John Birch Society, a strong base of support for...

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A Beautiful Ad for 'America the Beautiful'

(1) Comments | Posted February 3, 2014 | 10:13 PM

Yes, this is about that Coca-Cola ad, the one that made some of us proud to be American and others of us livid at seeing the reality of America flaunted by Coke. I fall in the first category. Fox News' Allan West is apparently in the latter.

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Congress Shouldn't Leave Immigration Bill Behind This September

(6) Comments | Posted September 12, 2013 | 5:40 PM

As an immigrants right advocate reflecting on the 12th anniversary of the attacks of 9/11, I am reminded of how similar this time feels to 2001. Back then, the momentum on immigration reform, buoyed by President George W. Bush, was immediately derailed by the horrific attacks. This month, the prospect...

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Immigrant Couples Win in Supreme Court Decision

(0) Comments | Posted June 26, 2013 | 6:43 PM

Today, just as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, my husband and I are celebrating nine years of marriage. Despite the ups and downs, I know we are grateful to have each other, and to have had the opportunity to celebrate our love, and mark...

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For Immigrant Women, Path to Congress Is Slower

(1) Comments | Posted April 29, 2013 | 6:33 PM

When women run, they win -- at least that's what the research says. Molly Ball's recent article in The Atlantic demonstrates that Republicans and Democrats are capitalizing on that knowledge to recruit more female candidates. But that article and the current reality in Congress show that...

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What 2012 Tells Us About Future Elections

(6) Comments | Posted November 9, 2012 | 2:23 PM

This campaign marked a turning point in American politics as usual. Changing demographics in the United States have been a subject of conversation for more than a decade. But the 2012 elections, highlighted patterns that began to emerge in 2000 when George W. Bush courted the Latino vote, and in...

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5 Questions on Immigration We Wish Jim Lehrer Would Ask

(86) Comments | Posted October 1, 2012 | 4:42 PM

On Oct. 3, President Obama is set to take the stage with Governor Romney to engage in the first presidential debate. While pundits are busily inflating the debates' importance and predicting which of the candidates will "win," we at The New American Leaders Project are wondering why immigration is not...

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Celebrating America's Newest Citizens

(7) Comments | Posted September 20, 2012 | 12:22 PM

On September 17, the U.S. celebrated Citizenship Day, recognizing those who have become U.S. citizens. For most people, this day goes by with little fanfare, like many holidays. I only learned about this occasion 10 years ago, when I became Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs for New York City, and since...

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Immigrants at the RNC: Representation Without Authenticity

(62) Comments | Posted August 29, 2012 | 4:09 PM

The GOP is trying hard to present a face of diversity in a coalition dominated by white men. The RNC proceedings are chock-a-block with the new American demographic -- from Haitian American Mia Love to Indian American Nikki Haley. As the convention proceeds, several Latinos, including Governor Susanna Martinez and...

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Celebrating Diversity in Public Schools

(0) Comments | Posted April 13, 2012 | 1:02 PM

As a young girl I grew up celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, in Belize. At my Catholic school, the nuns gave me, and the handful of other Indian students, a bag of plantain chips and the soda of our choice: tokens to recognize our communities' celebration. It was...

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A Step Further in Support of Immigration Reform

(121) Comments | Posted January 26, 2012 | 3:37 PM

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Obama indicated emphatic support for Dreamers, by asking Congress to "send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away." Although more targeted at Congress than in the...

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Asian Americans: A Growing Political Force

(1) Comments | Posted December 20, 2011 | 1:43 PM

In recent weeks, references to Latino and Asian political participation and representation have been qualified with the phrase "more than ever before." In the past two weeks alone, there have been news stories on the growing number of Latino candidates in Illinois and Cook County and the

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Many Languages, One Democracy

(7) Comments | Posted October 21, 2011 | 12:16 PM

Participation in the democratic process takes many forms, but perhaps none is accorded as much importance as voting. For the many new Americans in our country, one significant barrier to exercising this important democratic right was reduced last week when the Census Bureau issued the newest list of...

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Ten Years Later: A Return to Our Ideals

(7) Comments | Posted September 9, 2011 | 2:02 PM

Ten years ago, on September 11, 2011, I cast my first vote. It had been over a decade since I turned 18, but I left the country of my childhood at 17 to come to the U.S. as an international student. Through a long and circuitous path, I finally became...

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From the Community to the Capitol: Census Figures and Leadership in the U.S.

(0) Comments | Posted April 4, 2011 | 3:58 PM

Recently, the Census Bureau confirmed what many of us who work in immigrant communities already know -- that the fastest growing segments of the U.S. population are those who identify as Hispanic or Asian. Along with other immigrant communities -- from the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle...

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Being Immigrant, Becoming American

(25) Comments | Posted February 15, 2011 | 3:40 PM

In the past week, reports that Congress is planning on taking up immigration reform again have sporadically appeared in the press and blogosphere, once again sparking the hopes of many immigrants whose lives are deeply intertwined with the legislative battles taking place in states across our country. If Senators Schumer...

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Leading the Way on Immigration Reform

(30) Comments | Posted January 20, 2011 | 2:56 PM

Recently released Census data indicates that nearly one in five Americans are immigrants or children of at least one immigrant parent.

In my New York City household, we skew the data; my husband and I are immigrants, as is our child, who was born in London. Unlike her parents, who...

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