Every Region of State Will Have Dedicated Legal Counsels Working in Conjunction with Office for New Americans Opportunity Centers to Provide Free Services to Immigrants
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the selection of 19 experienced, dedicated immigration attorneys to serve as full-time legal counsels in all regions of the state to provide free services to immigrants that need assistance. These attorneys will work in conjunction with Governor Cuomo's Office for New Americans' Opportunity Centers across the state.
"While the federal administration tries to build a wall and roll back rights of immigrants across the country, New York is prioritizing support and protection for these New Yorkers to make sure they know their rights and legal options," Governor Cuomo said. "These attorneys and their parent organizations will be a trusted resource for immigrants seeking assistance across the state."
"I've seen firsthand while participating in countless naturalization ceremonies how the Office for New Americans helps individuals overcome barriers," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Full-time immigration attorneys at Opportunity Centers across the state will assist our newest Americans with the struggles they encounter and provide the services they need to ensure their rights and protections in our communities. While the federal government turns its back on immigrant children and families, we continue to embrace our culture and diversity that makes us the Empire State."
"The Office for New Americans is excited to work with these new Legal Counsels and help countless families across the state," said Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. "Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, we have created a model for welcoming immigrants in New York State that should be emulated across the country."
The awardees will provide dedicated Legal Counsels in each region of the state to work in conjunction with ONA Opportunity Centers:
Capital Region - Women's Bar Association Legal Project, Inc. (2 attorneys)
North Country - Frank H. Hiscock Legal Aid Society (2 attorneys)
Mohawk Valley - Frank H. Hiscock Legal Aid Society (2 attorneys)
Central New York - Frank H. Hiscock Legal Aid Society (2 attorneys)
Southern Tier - Journey's End Refugee Services (2 attorneys)
Finger Lakes - Journey's End Refugee Services (2 attorneys)
Western New York - Journey's End Refugee Services (2 attorneys)
Hudson Valley - Catholic Charities Community Services, Archdiocese of New York (2 attorneys)
Long Island - New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) (1 attorney)
New York City - New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) (2 attorneys)
The selections were made via the ONA Statewide Legal Technical Assistance Request to Support Immigrant Service Providers RFA issued in December.
ONA Legal Counsels will travel within their regions to meet the needs of immigrants in their communities, and services will be available at legal clinics at community-based organizations within each region. Direct representation for clients in need of assistance will be available, and ONA Legal Counsels will also conduct legal seminars and workshops. Grantees will provide translation and interpretation services for non-English-speaking new American clients.
ONA Legal Counsels will provide direct representation to immigrants in immigration-related proceedings using a "universal representation" model that serves any immigrant in need of legal representation in New York State.
Each ONA Legal Counsel in upstate regions will provide legal representation to a caseload of 15 to 20 clients at a time. Downstate ONA Legal Counsels will handle between 12 to 20 cases, depending on the specific region. Immigration legal services provided by the ONA Legal Counsel will include the following cases and services, but not be limited to:
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
Temporary Protected Status
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
Violence Against Women Act
Removal proceedings, for those currently detained or not, including those with a prior order of removal
Board of Immigration Appeals
All services provided will be offered at no charge to clients.
Assemblymember Maritza Davila, Chair, Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force said, "These attorneys know their communities and are trusted voices for countless New Yorkers. I applaud Governor Cuomo's Office for New Americans for its outstanding work across the state and welcome these dedicated professionals to our ongoing commitment to help immigrants."
Senator Luis Sepúlveda, Vice Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, said, "Governor Cuomo's Office for New Americans has established strong roots in communities across the state, where our immigrant neighbors know they can get real help without fear. The selection of these excellent providers to deliver legal services in conjunction with ONA's Opportunity Centers proves New York State is dedicated to improving the lives of all residents.
Assemblymember Victor M. Pichardo, Chair of the State Assembly's Taskforce on New Americans, said, "Immigrants to the United States often lack proper legal resources and guidance. I want to thank Governor Cuomo and the Office for New Americans for hiring these nineteen lawyers, and ensuring that they will provide a broad list of free legal services throughout the state of New York. I hope to work with the Governor and the Office for New Americans to further explore ways to continue to make New York State a safe haven for immigrants."
Lisa Frisch, Executive Director of Women's Bar Association Legal Project, Inc. said, "We are grateful to Governor Cuomo for recognizing the need to provide additional legal support to immigrants across the state, and we look forward to working with our community partners to expand these resources to address critical legal issues and continue to make New York a welcoming place for those seeking safe and secure lives in this country."
Linda Gehron, Esq., Executive Director, President & CEO of the Frank H. Hiscock Legal Aid Society, said, "We are thrilled to receive the NYS Office of New Americans funding, which will make it possible for the Hiscock Legal Aid Society to serve hundreds more people in Upstate New York who face urgent and dire legal consequences, and are in need of our care. With this 'Rapid Response' funding, people who are going through the most difficult times of their lives will now have the expert legal assistance they need to live safe and productive lives in our community."
Karen M. Andolina Scott, Executive Director of Journey's End Refugee Services, Inc., said, "We thank Governor Cuomo and all New Yorkers who value immigrants and immigrant communities and recognize the contributions they have made to our great state, but also the continuing immigration legal needs these communities still face. The expansion of the ONA Legal Counsel Program will allow us to serve immigrant communities who previously did not have access to immigration legal assistance. We are proud to continue this critical work with the Office for New Americans."
Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Board Chair of Catholic Charities Community Services, Archdiocese of New York, said, "At a time of rising demand for immigration legal services in the Hudson Valley, expanding capacity in the region is critical. Catholic Charities Community Services, Archdiocese of New York welcomes the addition of two attorneys to the Opportunity Centers in the Hudson Valley and looks forward to working with the NYS Office for New Americans to ensure access to free, quality immigration legal services."
Melissa Chua, Associate Director of NYLAG's Immigrant Protection Unit said, "Immigrants are our neighbors, our friends, and our family. At the New York Legal Assistance Group, they are also our clients. Right now in the U.S., the stakes in our immigration system could not be higher—access to health care, employment, education and even the right to stay in the U.S. with family and community are uncertain. This is why NYLAG attorney are on the front lines, in local communities, standing alongside immigrants as they fight tough legal battles. We let them know they are not alone, help is available, and a path to citizenship is possible. We are so grateful to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Office for New Americans for providing funding to continue this important work, helping immigrants who want to contribute to our economy and join the New York family."
About the Office for New Americans & the Liberty Defense Project
The New York State Office for New Americans, founded six years ago, is the nation's first statutorily created immigrant services office. ONA has Opportunity Centers across the State that are hosted in community-based organizations that deliver a host of services and support, including legal services, to New York's new American communities. These sites are the focal point for communities to embrace immigrants by providing them with the tools necessary to thrive and contribute to our state.
In 2017, Governor Cuomo launched the Liberty Defense Project - the first-in-the-nation, state-led public-private project - to assist immigrants regardless of status in obtaining access to legal services. The project is administered by ONA and run in partnership with law firms, legal associations, advocacy organizations, major colleges and universities and bar associations. The LDP provides:
Free legal consultations and screenings for immigrants throughout New York State;
Direct representation to immigrants in deportation proceedings as well as other cases;
Assistance with other immigration legal services, particularly for complex matters; and
Know Your Rights trainings for immigrants and the community at large.
Any immigrant that needs free legal assistance is urged to call the New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636. All call information is confidential. Assistance is available in 200+ languages.