Immigration Legal Assistance Will Be Provided to Thousands of Asylum Seekers
NEW YORK – New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) Commissioner Manuel Castro today announced that in the absence of a national strategy to support asylum seekers with their legal needs as they are admitted into the country, the City has launched the Asylum Seeker Legal Assistance Network (ASLAN), a $5 million investment to expand community capacity to provide immigration legal assistance for newly arrived asylum seekers. This is in addition to the over 65 million the city invests in legal services to support immigrant New Yorkers - the most of any municipality in the nation.
“New York City continues to be a national leader when responding to this global humanitarian crisis and supporting newly arrived migrants,” said Manuel Castro, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “Today, I am proud to announce the network compromised of on-the-ground partners across the City that will work to continue to support our newest New Yorkers. While we wait for a national strategy, our administration will remain committed to being a city of immigrants.”
Through this network, the city will expand access to immigration legal assistance for recently arrived migrants and asylum seekers. Services will be provided at community-based locations citywide in addition to the Asylum Application Help Center at the Red Cross building in midtown Manhattan, and remotely.
The following network contracted partners have received city funding to provide a combination of orientation sessions, legal screenings, application assistance, pro se assistance clinics, self-help materials and workshops, and other services:
MOIA will provide central coordination of the network’s activities and regularly meet with contracted providers to share information and best practices in response to changing federal immigration policies and practices.
As part of the network, the city is proud to announce a partnership with The City University of New York (CUNY) to support newly arrived asylum seekers by recruiting, training, supervising, and deploying students to provide asylum seekers with information sessions, screenings, and application assistance clinics designed and overseen by CUNY School of Law and CUNY Citizenship Now!. Services will be provided remotely, at CUNY School of Law, and at community-based organizations citywide serving as Asylum Seeker Resource Navigation Centers. Additionally, students and faculty from the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College and the CUNY School of Medicine will collaborate to support the social and mental health needs of newly arrived asylum seekers.
Additionally, the city will fund Catholic Charities Community Services as a network partner to expand the MOIA’s Immigration Legal Hotline to handle higher call volumes and provide tailored assistance and referrals for newly arrived asylum seekers.
Services will be available to migrants and asylum seekers who arrived in the United States on or after January 1, 2022. Providers will prioritize services for individuals approaching critical dates, such as the one-year deadline to file for asylum. Information about accessing services can be found at www.nyc.gov/asylumseekers.
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 welcoming them – by expanding and expediting access to Humanitarian Parole, Temporary Protected Status, and asylum-based work authorization.
“CUNY has a proud history of educating immigrants and first-generation families who have found in our classrooms a path to good-paying jobs and upward mobility. This partnership to assist asylum seekers is another opportunity for the University to support a new generation of New Yorkers whose success will benefit our City and State,” said City University of New York (CUNY) Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez.
“CUNY Law is proud to partner with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs’ ASLAN initiative. CUNY Law students, many of whom are immigrants or children of immigrants themselves, have fought for the rights of New York City’s asylum and immigrant communities for decades. Stepping up at this crucial moment to provide counsel, support, policy advocacy, and community education is not only the expertise of many of our students, faculty, and graduates—it’s also their calling,” states Sudha Setty, Dean of the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law.
“CUNY Citizenship Now!, the nation's largest university-based immigration law program, is proud to join the ASLAN partners to help newly arrived asylum seekers. Building on our nationally recognized, naturalization assistance model, we will tap our network of volunteer partner organizations to support the Emerging Needs Clinic of CUNY's School of Law. We thank the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs for creating the ASLAN network to assist eligible migrants in need,” said Monique Francis, Interim Executive Director, of CUNY Citizenship Now!
“Within the past year, Catholic Charities staff have seen tens and thousands of asylum-seekers, and their families, arrive in our city, seeking opportunity and legal assistance. We commend the City of New York for not only welcoming them but continuing to work to provide various resources to help these individuals create the lives they dreamed of,” said Beatriz Diaz-Taveras, Catholic Charities Community Services. “From week to week, we see a high volume of individuals who are seeking asylum and in need of legal help, we always need to keep in mind that the surge of asylum-seekers is a national problem needing strong attention, both by Congress and the President. We are grateful to work with New York City and our partner organizations through the Asylum Seeker Legal Assistance Network (ASLAN) to ensure those who have sought refuge in our city receive the resources they deserve.”
"African Services Committee is excited to be able to provide much-needed legal services to those NYC newcomers seeking asylum. We thank MOIA for their continued support,” said Amanda Lugg, Executive Director of the African Services Committee (ASC).
“Catholic Migration Services (CMS) welcomes Mayor Adams’ and the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs’ efforts to fund the provision of legal services to the community of new migrants arriving in our city,” said Magdalena Barbosa, Legal Director at Catholic Migration Services (CMS). “Our agency is proud to participate in the Pro Se Plus Program that will use this funding to provide our new neighbors with important legal information and pro se application assistance.”
"Lutheran Social Services of NY is pleased to partner with the City of NY and the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs in ensuring that the legal rights of asylum seekers are protected. As an organization originally founded more than 130 years ago to work with newly arriving German immigrants, this partnership is consistent with our founding principles. In light of the absence of a national strategy to address the increasing migrant issue in the city, we are pleased that the City has provided the funding necessary to protect and address the legal needs of those seeking asylum. The Asylum Seeker Legal Assistance Network will also provide the mechanism for collaboration and information sharing for those who seek to do so," said Dr. Damyn Kelly, President and CEO, of Lutheran Social Services of New York (LSSNY).
“NYLAG is proud to partner with immigrant communities and to welcome newly arrived immigrants to New York City. Working alongside the City, fellow legal services, and community-based organizations, including through the Pro Se Plus Project (PSPP) we aim to bring needed information, guidance, and legal assistance to newly arrived New Yorkers,” said Lisa Rivera, President and CEO of New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG). “Through these partnerships, NYLAG hopes to share our expertise in asylum law and empower New York City’s asylum seekers and immigrant communities.”
"This is a moment when collaboration between the City and Legal Service Providers is essential,” said Heather Axford, the Executive Director of Central American Legal Assistance (CALA). “CALA is proud to participate in the Pro Se Plus Project (PSPP), and grateful for this funding to provide urgent legal information and pro se application assistance.”
“As part of the Pro Se Plus Project (PSPP), Masa continues to support New York City's efforts to boldly and unapologetically welcome our most recently arrived immigrant New Yorkers," said Aracelis Lucero, Executive Director of Masa. “PSPP partners come together to offer critical information, resources, and legal support to our newest New Yorkers so they have the knowledge they need to make the best decisions for them and their families. We welcome the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs' efforts to continue to support community-based and immigrant-serving organizations with resources needed to continue this critical work.”