New York has always been a new home for new arrivals in the United States. Sayu Bhojwani, the president and founder of the organization New American Leaders, wants those in elected office to reflect that diversity.
"There's a huge gap between who New Yorkers are and who are leaders," she said in an interview. "What that means is the kind of policy we see in government doesn't always reflect the core needs of New Yorkers."
The group is national in its scope and non-partisan, focusing on electing first and second generation Americans to office. It's backing a slate of 10 candidates this year for public office, many of them in the New York City area. But Bhojwani believes the message can be a resonant one in any area of New York as a whole.
"People like us should be able to represent any district in America," she said. "I always say if a white man can represent any part of America, than so can people of color and women of color."
And part of electing more first and second generation candidates is knocking down barriers to elected office such as setting term limits and allowing candidates to access public money for funding their campaigns.
This, in turn, could lead to policies that are more encompassing, Bhojwani said.
"I think those of us who have the lived experience of immigrants understand this country and our state is not a meritocracy and there are systemic barriers to getting an education and health care," she said.
There are basic tenants of the American dream that are not as easy to access for all people living in the state, she said, such as education and health care.
"All of those things I think are policy needs as Americans are shared," Bhojwani said. "It's the way that policy is implemented."