June 30, 2022
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Announces $8.7 Million in New Grants to Support Naturalization and Other Legal Services for New Americans

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Governor Hochul Announces $8.7 Million in New Grants to Support Naturalization and Other Legal Services for New Americans
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New Grants Will Support Newcomers to New York State, Including Those Arriving from Afghanistan and Ukraine

FY23 Enacted Budget Increases Overall ONA Funding to $20 Million

Governor Hochul Issues a Proclamation To Recognize June as Immigrant Heritage Month

Governor Hochul today announced approximately $8.7 million in new grants made to not-for-profit, community-based providers through the Department of State's Office for New Americans to deliver free services for new Americans across the state. These new grants will support ONA's statewide network of Opportunity Centers to provide naturalization application assistance and civics test preparation to immigrants and refugees on their path to becoming U.S. citizens. The grants will also support ONA's Legal Counsels, a program with expert immigration attorneys that provide free immigration legal assistance to any immigrant in need, including newcomers from Afghanistan and Ukraine.

Governor Hochul also issued a Proclamation declaring June as Immigrant Heritage Month in recognition of the important contributions of immigrants to the diverse fabric of New York State.

"New York is built on the hard work and determination of generations of immigrants, and we will continue to support those who are trying to build better lives for themselves and their families," Governor Hochul said. "Today's investments toward critical services for immigrants sends a clear message to all: New York welcomes you and celebrates you. I look forward to continuing to provide immigrants with the tools they need to be safe, secure and set up to succeed in our great state."

"By providing grant funding to help immigrants access needed legal services, New York is giving families the opportunity to stay together as they pursue the American dream," Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado said. "Our immigrants are what make New York the great melting pot of our nation, and it is incumbent upon us to provide our newest New Yorkers needed application assistance and support as they navigate the naturalization process."

Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, "This year's increased funding emphasizes that Governor Hochul is committed to help new Americans succeed in making valuable contributions to our state while also recognizing the need for immigrant services. This is a smart investment that will help immigrants access and navigate a variety of services through a statewide network of community-based providers. We will continue to make our great state a beacon of hope for all those who call New York home."

The FY23 Budget's increased funding for ONA allows the Office to continue funding its core services, including free legal assistance, mental health support, workforce development, and English language learning. It will also provide ONA with the capacity to fund special projects and pilot initiatives that respond directly to changing federal immigration policies. Additionally, the funding will help address immediate community needs, such as supporting the increase in immigrants and refugees coming to New York State from the Southern Border, as well as recently arrived Afghans and Ukrainians.

Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, Chair of the New York State Assembly Task Force on New Americans said,"As more and more immigrants make New York State their home, it is imperative that we continue to support and strengthen programs that are helping them integrate socially, economically and politically. The Assembly Majority fought hard to increase funding for ONA and its important initiatives and continues to be a strong voice of support at a time when anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric are too common due to our federal government's failure to enact comprehensive immigration reform. When we support our immigrant communities, we strengthen all communities across the Empire State. These new funds do exactly that."

Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition Murad Awawdeh said, "Throughout history, New York has welcomed immigrants from all over this world and they have become an integral part of the state's economic, social and cultural fabric. From the refugees who have economically revitalized Western and Central NY to the immigrant artists and musicians at the center of New York City's cultural life to the diversity of languages and foods in our local neighborhoods all over this state---immigrants really are the beating heart of New York. We thank Governor Hochul for today's investment towards the critical services immigrants need to integrate and secure a pathway to citizenship. New York is only as strong as the immigrants who have built our great state and kept it running throughout this pandemic."

The $8.7 million in funding will support the launch of 35 new Opportunity Center and Legal Counsel grants to build upon the success of these programs, which have been in operation since the creation of ONA. In 2021, ONA Opportunity Centers and Legal Counsels served 28,797 individuals with a variety of free services including legal assistance and naturalization support that put them on the path to citizenship. During the past year, ONA-funded attorneys have also stepped in to assist clients throughout the state with urgent legal matters as well as recent arrivals including Afghans, and also during challenging circumstances with the pandemic.

ONA Opportunity Centers - Civics offer free and confidential services including:

  • Citizenship Prep Classes
  • Immigration Application Support
  • Immigration Law Consultations
  • Community Workshops
  • Workforce Referrals

Approximately $2.7 million in Opportunity Center grants is being awarded to organizations in the following regions:

Capital Region
County served: Albany
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

Central New York
County served: Onondaga
Catholic Charities Syracuse

Finger Lakes
County served: Monroe
Catholic Charities Family and Community Services

Long Island
County served: Nassau
Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN)

County served: Suffolk
Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN)

Mid-Hudson
County served: Dutchess
Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of NY

County served: Orange
Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of NY

County served: Rockland
Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of NY

County served: Westchester, outside of Yonkers
Make the Road New York

County served: Westchester, outside of Yonkers
Neighbors Link

County served: Westchester, Yonkers
Neighbors Link

Mohawk Valley
County served: Oneida
The Center

New York City
County served: Bronx
Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of NY

County served: Bronx
Mercy Center

County served: Brooklyn
Chinese-American Planning Council

County served: Manhattan
Chinese-American Planning Council

County served: Manhattan
International Rescue Committee

County served: Queens
Make the Road New York

County served: Queens
MinKwon Center for Community Action, Inc.

County served: Queens
Queens Community House

County served: Richmond
Make the Road New York

Southern Tier
County served: Broome
American Civic Association

County served: Tompkins
Catholic Charities Tompkins/Tioga

Western New York
County served: Erie
Jericho Road Community Health Center

ONA Legal Counsels provide free legal services including:

  • Direct representation to any immigrant in New York State
  • Legal consultation days at ONA Opportunity Centers
  • Law-related workshops and Know Your Rights trainings

Approximately $6 million for Legal Counsel grants is being awarded to organizations in the following regions:

Capital Region
Counties served: Warren, Washington, Saratoga, Schenectady, Albany, Greene, Columbia, Rensselaer
ONA Legal Counsel: Capital District Women's Bar Association Legal Project

Central New York
Counties served: Oswego, Onondaga, Madison, Cayuga, Cortland
ONA Legal Counsel: Frank H. Hiscock Legal Aid Society

Finger Lakes
Counties served: Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Yates, Wayne
ONA Legal Counsel: The Legal Aid Society of Rochester, NY

Long Island
Counties served: Nassau, Suffolk
ONA Legal Counsel: Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN)

Mid-Hudson
Counties served: Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess
ONA Legal Counsel: Neighbors Link

Counties served: Ulster, Sullivan, Orange, Rockland
ONA Legal Counsel: Catholic Charities Community Services, Archdiocese of NY

Mohawk Valley
Counties served: Herkimer, Fulton, Montgomery, Schoharie, Otsego, Oneida
ONA Legal Counsel: Frank H. Hiscock Legal Aid Society

New York City
Counties served: Bronx, Kings, Richmond, Queens, New York
ONA Legal Counsel: New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG)

North Country
Counties served: Clinton, Essex, Hamilton, Franklin, St Lawrence, Jefferson, Lewis
ONA Legal Counsel: Frank H. Hiscock Legal Aid Society

Southern Tier
Counties served: Steuben, Schuyler, Tompkins, Tioga, Broome, Chenango, Delaware, Chemung
ONA Legal Counsel: Journey's End Refugee Services

Western New York
Counties served: Niagara, Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany
ONA Legal Counsel: Journey's End Refugee Services

The New York State Office for New Americans, founded in 2012, is the nation's first statutorily created immigrant services office. ONA assists all new Americans with accessing and navigating a variety of free services and support through its statewide network of community-based providers.

For any immigrant in need of assistance, or to connect with ONA's programs, call the New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636 9:00am to 8:00pm, Monday through Friday. All calls are confidential. Assistance is available in over 200 languages. For more information, visit https://dos.ny.gov/office-new-americans or follow ONA on Twitter at @NYSNewAmericans or Facebook.

Contact the Governor's Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474-8418
New York City: (212) 681-4640

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