June 20, 2023
In Absence of National Strategy, Asylum Application Help Center Will Provide Thousands of Asylum Seekers in NYC Assistance to Submit Asylum Applications, First Step Toward Work Authorization
City Will Also Continue to Support Non-Profit Legal Providers and Pro Se Clinics with $5 Million Investment
Interested Immigration Lawyers and Application Assistants Encouraged to Apply Immediately
NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams today announced the Asylum Application Help Center, which will offer thousands of asylum seekers assistance completing and filing asylum applications as they seek a new life in the United States. While the tens of thousands of migrants that have arrived in New York City over the last year seeking shelter have already been paroled into the country by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, many have not officially filled out their asylum applications, delaying their eligibility for work authorization. Opening in the coming weeks — in consultation with immigration legal service providers and with the initial pro-bono support of the law firms Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP; Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP; and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP — the Asylum Application Help Center will help thousands of asylum seekers currently in New York City apply for asylum, bringing them one step closer to being eligible for work authorization. Interested asylum seekers will schedule a one-on-one appointment at the application help center, where trained application assistants will work with the applicant to answer questions. Experienced immigration lawyers will be on site to supervise application assistants and provide guidance, and interpreters will be on site to provide in-person language assistance. Mayor Adams also encouraged New Yorkers interested in working at the Asylum Application Help Center to apply immediately.
“Throughout this crisis, New York City has led the nation in answering the call to support arriving asylum seekers, and we are doing that again today,” said Mayor Adams. “The Asylum Application Help Center will assist the asylum seekers in New York City through the complex federal immigration process, bringing them one step closer to being eligible for work authorization and the ability to support themselves. We must act swiftly to ensure the well-being of the thousands of migrants whose deadline to submit an asylum application is fast approaching, and this center will help us do that. I encourage New Yorkers to join this unprecedented effort by applying today to work at our center.”
“Legal services are a critical next step in the city’s approach to support people seeking asylum as they work to achieve independence,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “The city is making important investments in the Asylum Application Help Center in partnership with a number of private sector partners. Thank you to all the firms, legal professionals, and everyday New Yorkers that are and will be a part of this effort. Ultimately, if we all work together with a national strategy for a national issue, we can address this humanitarian crisis."
“The necessary first step toward work authorization — and a new life in this country — is a completed asylum application,” said Chief Counsel to City Hall Brendan McGuire. “By scaling up this help center to aid thousands of asylum seekers, this administration is providing targeted assistance to those who need it urgently. And we are not doing it alone. The non-profit community, the private immigration bar, and many of the city’s leading law firms have answered the call. We are grateful to all of them and look forward to growing this effort in the weeks ahead.”
“The Asylum Application Help Center represents another comprehensive measure taken by the City of New York to respond to an unprecedented humanitarian crisis,” said New York City Corporation Counsel Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix. “I commend those who are a part of this valiant effort to assist individuals through the federal asylum application process. This can be a daunting task for new arrivals. The help center will provide much needed guidance and assistance to asylum seekers as they forge their path towards self-sufficiency and a new life in our city.”
“Since the beginning of this humanitarian crisis, our administration has gone beyond our moral obligation to humanely support our newest New Yorkers and help them integrate into our city,” said Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Manual Castro. “The Asylum Application Help Center is a historic step New York City is taking with private and non-profit partners to help asylum seekers meet their one-year application deadline. While we await a national strategy, the city will continue to meet the needs of this crisis.”
“New York City is a beacon of hope for so many seeking asylum, and volunteers continue to support individuals and families through their time, talents and donations. NYC Service is proud to offer free capacity building tools for organizations or programs supporting people seeking asylum, including the ability to recruit volunteers and receive in-kind donations,” said Chief Service Officer Laura Rog. “I encourage organizations to register on nyc.gov/service to connect to New Yorkers who want to help. To all the talented New Yorkers who want to get involved but aren’t sure how, register online to answer the call to serve.”
The Asylum Application Help Center will operate Monday – Friday from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM in the American Red Cross Greater New York headquarters in Midtown Manhattan by appointment only. The city continues to expand access to immigration assistance for recently arrived immigrants through ongoing and increased investments in its network of contracted immigration legal services providers. In addition to the Asylum Application Help Center, the city will invest $5 million to continue supporting a range of legal providers, including Lutheran Social Services, African Services Committee, Catholic Charities Community Services, and the Pro Se Plus Project (comprised of the New York Legal Assistance Group, Central American Legal Assistance, UnLocal, African Communities Together, Masa, and Catholic Migration Services) operating pro se clinics and hosting information sessions at the American Red Cross Greater New York headquarters.
In the coming weeks, the other support services offered at the Asylum Seeker Resource Navigation Center — currently operating at the American Red Cross Greater New York headquarters — will transition to the city’s Asylum Seeker Arrival Center based out of The Roosevelt Hotel. These services include New York City Department of Education school enrollment, Fair Fares enrollment, IDNYC, health insurance enrollment, and access to mental health counseling.
Helping asylum seekers to file asylum applications delivers on promises made in Mayor Adams’ “The Road Forward: A Blueprint to Address New York City's Response to the Asylum Seeker Crisis,” released this spring. The Adams administration also continues to strongly urge the federal government to immediately use every tool at its disposal to protect and support newly arrived migrants and asylum seekers — and the municipalities supporting them — by expanding Humanitarian Parole and Temporary Protected Status, and expediting asylum-based work authorization.
Since this humanitarian crisis began, the city has taken fast and urgent action, opening a total of 175 emergency sites to provide shelter to asylum seekers, including 11 additional large-scale humanitarian relief centers; standing up navigation centers with support from community-based organizations to connect asylum seekers with critical resources; enrolling thousands of children in public schools through Project Open Arms; and more.
“Cleary Gottlieb is committed to assisting vulnerable asylum-seekers located in New York City to apply for relief, and to working alongside our partner organizations in these efforts to leverage our long-standing experience and expertise in humanitarian immigration law,” said Michael A. Gerstenzang, managing partner, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.
“We stand ready to help with this first step towards getting people authorization to work,” said Brad S. Karp, chair, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.
“Simpson Thacher has a long-standing commitment to providing legal services to migrants fleeing dangerous conditions in their home countries,” said Josh Levine, co-chair, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s Pro Bono Committee. “We recognize that the number of immigrant families arriving daily into New York City has reached an unprecedented level and we stand ready to help the city with the services needed to help these children and adults apply for asylum.”
“This crisis calls for tenacious professionalism to help those striving to make a new home in New York,” said Bret Parker, executive director, New York City Bar Association and Kurt M. Denk, executive director, City Bar Justice Center. “Our organizations and others like ours have seen the difference that pro bono legal services can make in times of emergency, and we’re confident that approach will have an impact here as well.”
“American Immigration Lawyers Association New York Chapter welcomes New York City’s efforts to provide support to the thousands of asylum seekers in need of assistance,” said Kushal Patel, chair, American Immigration Lawyers Association New York Chapter (AILA NY).
“The American Immigration Lawyers Association of New York City is proud to be included in this initiative to assist asylum seekers navigate the complex U.S. immigration system,” said Neena Dutta, advocacy chair, AILA NY. “Our organization is comprised of over 1,700 private and non-profit immigration lawyers and nationwide the association has over 18,000 members. We know first-hand the issues facing newly arrived immigrants, and the consequences of poor or no representation. Less than 37 percent of immigrants and 14 percent of detained immigrants are represented by counsel. Immigrants who are represented are five times more likely to win their cases with an attorney than without and detained immigrants are 11 times more likely to pursue relief when they have legal counsel. Court data regarding unaccompanied children shows that when represented, 73 percent are allowed to remain in the U.S. when represented, whereas 15 percent are allowed to stay when unrepresented. We look forward to tackling this issue at our doorstep as the country has not had comprehensive immigration reform for three decades. We applaud the mayor’s office for taking this crucial step which recognizes a dire need and a human right, and hope that other cities will follow suit and adopt similar programs.”
“I commend the City of New York for bringing to scale a practice that immigrants seeking asylum have engaged in for years: pro se representation,” said Angela Fernandez, executive director, Safe Passage Project. “There are not enough immigration lawyers to provide representation to our newest neighbors, so by coordinating and leveraging resources, the city is helping ensure that asylum seekers get a fair shot in this complex legal process.”
“Lutheran Social Services is proud to partner with the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs in their efforts to assist the thousands of asylum seekers who have come to New York City seeking refuge,” said Cecilia Aranzamendez, executive director of Community Services, Lutheran Social Services of New York. The establishment of the Asylum Application Help Center is a crucial step in addressing the needs of asylum seekers and further demonstrates New York City’s longstanding commitment to supporting and upholding the dignity of this very vulnerable population.”
“It is crucial that asylum seekers have access to quality legal representation so that they may find more stability for themselves and their families,” said Theo Oshiro, co-executive director, Make the Road New York. “Today, New York City is taking an important and significant step to make this a reality. We look forward to working with the city to make this initiative a success and to continue to innovate ways to support asylum seekers.”
“New York has a rich history of welcoming migrants and this Asylum Application Help Center is a crucial step to guide asylum seekers towards stability, work authorization and new opportunities in this country,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “This center will help provide asylum seekers with much-needed legal support to complete asylum applications and bring them closer to work authorization and the ability to support themselves. I will continue to work hard to support asylum seekers, ease barriers to work authorization, ensure access to legal services, and pass comprehensive immigration reform.”
“I’m applaud Mayor Eric Adams for allocating $5 million in funding for the non-profit legal providers and pro se clinics,” said New York State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud. “In tandem with the Asylum Application Help Center, thousands of asylum seekers can submit asylum applications. This will create the first step taken in the pathway to work authorization. This initiative will further develop legal avenues for those seeking to make New York their home. As the chairperson of the senate’s Social Services Committee, I look forward to collaborating with Mayor Eric Adams to bring stability to people’s lives.”
"Mayor Adams' announcement of the Asylum Application Help Center is a significant step forward in providing critical assistance to thousands of asylum seekers in New York City,” said New York State Senator Luis Sepúlveda. “By offering support in completing and filing asylum applications, this center will play a vital role in helping individuals take the first step towards work authorization and a new life in the United States. I commend Mayor Adams and encourage all interested parties to join this noble effort, ensuring the well-being and success of those seeking refuge in our city."
“Amid an unparalleled humanitarian crisis, the Asylum Application Help Center serves as a testament to New York City's unwavering dedication to compassion and justice. By aiding asylum seekers in navigating the complex federal immigration process, this center brings them closer to crucial milestones such as work authorization and self-sufficiency, empowering them on their journey toward independence," said New York State Senator Jackson. "The Asylum Application Help Center embodies our collective responsibility to protect the most vulnerable, reaffirming our values as a city that embraces diversity and champions human rights."
“Fleeing conflict and danger to build a safe life for your family in New York is fraught with difficulties as it is — we needn’t make the process any harder by asking asylum-seekers to process complicated paperwork without government guidance,” said New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes. “I applaud the mayor’s initiative to provide asylum seekers with support in submitting asylum applications so that they can receive work authorization here in New York, and I look forward to doing all I can to help see this process through.”
“New York City continues to do the work of our federal government in supporting asylum seekers through the Asylum Application Help Center created by Mayor Adams. From the support of pro-bono law firms, asylum seekers are able to complete their asylum application,” said New York State Assemblymember Alicia L. Hyndman. “Completion of the asylum application, allows seekers to be eligible for federal work authorization. Asylum seekers deserve a chance at a new life in the United States, and this initiative upholds that belief.”
“Mayor Adams’ Asylum Application Help Center gathers the best and the brightest immigration lawyers to meet the moment,” said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. “At a time when our city has welcomed 75,000 asylum seekers since last spring, legal services to accelerate the application process is essential. This will allow asylum seekers to receive work authorization sooner and ease the financial burden on the city until the federal government provides more much needed aid. When I was director of immigration affairs for New York State, I built a first-in-the-nation program that provided legal counsel to immigrants. I saw firsthand how powerful it was for immigrants to have an advocate on their side, with their chances of success increasing by 14 times with a lawyer. Now Mayor Adams is providing that empowerment to asylum seekers. These critical legal services will help the new arrivals stand on their own two feet and by extension help the city manage the migrant crisis.”