This New York Borough Is Quietly Being Run By Caribbean Americans

Jamaican American Donovan Richards is the new Queens Borough President while his Deputy is Guyanese American Rhonda Binda, (r.)

By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, NEWARK, NJ, Thurs. Mar. 11, 2021: The New York Borough of Queens, NY is home to conservatively 200,00 Caribbean born immigrants and thousands more Caribbean Americans. But for the first time in its history, the borough is now being run by two Caribbean Americans.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, whose roots extend to Jamaica. Richards, a former New York City Council member representing the 31st District of the New York City Council won the post at the Nov. 3, 2020 general elections, beating the Republican nominee Joann Ariola and independent candidate Dao Yin.

Richards was sworn in as Queens Borough President on December 2, 2020. His immediate order of business was to name a fellow Caribbean American as deputy borough president.

Rhonda Binda is the daughter of Guyanese immigrants, who was raised in Southeast Queens. Richards has described her as “a visionary leader with a passion for social and environmental justice.”

Binda, an attorney, successfully lobbied the New York City Council for New York Public Interest Group (NYPIRG) to shut down Fresh Kills, the largest toxic site in the country.

She also “represented and released” wrongly detained clients before the US Immigration Court of Appeals after 9/11 pro bono and broke up Internet and cable monopolies.

n government, Binda served in both the Obama-Biden and Clinton-Gore administrations as a US diplomat and in the West Wing.

Binda returned to Queens as the executive director for the Jamaica BID, the borough’s largest business district, where she took action against “the stark inequality of resources and investments made in the borough.”

With Queens being the borough that is home to the most foreign born immigrants than any other in the City of New York, Borough President Richard has announced he will open a center at Queens Borough Hall this spring dedicated to helping documented and undocumented immigrants find and access government resources, from housing to food.

The immigrant welcome center is expected to open sometime in April, although it may begin as a virtual service due to the coronavirus pandemic, Richards told reporters this week.

Two full-time staffers in the borough president’s office will be assigned to run the center.

It is meant to serve as a “one-stop shop for individuals who’ve come to this country,” Richards said.

Richards cited as inspiration his father, a Jamaican immigrant who became a U.S. citizen in 2019.

“This is an issue near and dear to me,” Richards added.

Binda has noted in the past that the Caribbean and Guyanese communities make up “some of the largest immigrant populations in Queens and New York, and have made tremendous contributions to business, arts and non-profits, and now, more than ever, in government, with leaders like Queens Borough President Richards, with Jamaican heritage.

“I’m a daughter of Guyanese immigrants, and I was raised in the richness of the melting pot that makes Queens so beautiful and that creates so much potential,” Binda was quoted by the Caribbean Life newspaper. “I think my multicultural Caribbean roots has been a tremendous asset for me throughout my life and in my career, and has equipped me well for the role of deputy president for a diverse borough like Queens.”