IDC Protects Immigrant Communities With Largest Legal Aid Fund In State History
The Independent Democratic Conference made the largest commitment to immigrant legal aid in New York State history — securing $10 million for services in the 2017-2018 budget. IDC members worked with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to secure this major fund, which will work in conjunction with Gov. Cuomo’s Liberty Defense Project. The New York State Senate approved the budget last night.
Immigrant and legal defense groups praised the IDC for their steadfast commitment to immigrant rights. Funding awards include: $4 million to the Vera Institute of Justice, $1 million to the New York Immigration Coalition, $1 million to the Empire Justice Center, $1 million to the Northern Manhattan Immigration Coalition for Immigrant Rights, $2 million to the Hispanic Federation and $1 million to Catholic Charities Community Services.
“We are living in a difficult time and we need to protect our immigrant communities, now more than ever. The ultra-conservative and un-American actions emanating from Washington have led to a spike in hate crimes, and increased threats of deportation for immigrants in New York. In the age of President Trump, it is an unacceptable truth that immigrants in my district and throughout New York State go about their daily lives with constant fear in their eyes. The IDC is committed to helping immigrants as a part of this year’s Budget process, and this is a clear, unquestionable way of doing just that. We are a City, a State, and a country of immigrants, and no one can change this reality. My door is always open to anyone, who like my parents, came here searching for the American Dream,” said Senator Jose Peralta (D-Queens).
This $10 million commitment builds upon the IDC’s funding announced last year to the Vera Institute of Justice’s New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, which provides attorneys to individuals detained in upstate New York immigration courts. The program increases the chances that immigrants will win their cases by 1,000 percent.
“America is a nation of immigrants and the Independent Democratic
Conference is proud to protect our immigrant communities through this
$10 million investment to help prevent deportations and help immigrants
apply for citizenship. This funding will make a positive difference in
the lives of immigrant families who want nothing more than the American
Dream,” said IDC Deputy Leader David Valesky (D-Syracuse).
The funds will be awarded to immigrant legal services groups through the state’s Office of New Americans and will be used for immigrant defense services to prevent deportation, green card application processing, job assistance and other endeavors to advance immigrant rights.
Immigrant groups thanked IDC members for providing the critical aid.
Earlier this year, the IDC launched the Immigrant Defense Coalition, also known as Sanctuary Senate districts, where each IDC member offers assistance to immigrants in their districts. The IDC launched a toll free hotline, 1(800) 213-6385, for immigrants to call for legal help.
IDC members also hosted numerous “Know Your Rights” sessions in immigrant communities, with attorneys on hand able to discuss immigration concerns and provide guidance.