NY Groups Join to Help Immigrants

A public-private partnership called the New York Immigrant Assistance Consortium has been formed to coordinate a response to President Obama’s announcement of administrative relief for nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants. Representatives of different members of the consortium were on hand Dec. 4 at a news conference held jointly by the New York Immigration Coalition and the Center for Community and Ethnic Media at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
Steve Choi, executive director of the NYIC, stressed to reporters that it was “imperative” that undocumented immigrants who qualify for relief programs that will be introduced go ahead and apply for those programs, rather than remain in the shadows or hope that they will one day qualify for permanent residence as asylum seekers. There are “critical benefits” even from programs that offer only temporary relief for three years, and he said that having taken advantage of such programs will help immigrants “down the line.”
While several speakers focused on the communities within New York City, a couple of speakers noted that there are large populations of immigrants outside the city who qualify for the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals as well as the new deferred action program for immigrant parents of children born in the U.S.
The Hudson Valley region, including Westchester and counties north of Westchester, is home to the second largest immigrant population in New York State, noted Jennifer C. Friedman, director of the Pace Community Law Practice at Pace Law School in White Plains, New York. She stressed that immigrants who are not certain of whether they qualify should be sure to speak with a qualified immigrant lawyer and learn their particulars.
There are widespread concerns that immigrants may be taken advantage of by unscrupulous lawyers, given poor advice or overcharged for legal services. Patrick Young, supervising attorney at CARECEN on Long Island, said that “I’m an immigration lawyer and I hate the fact that many of these [immigration] lawyers look at this program as an opportunity to build up their retirements.”
To ensure that messaging to immigrants is consistent as well as available in their languages, community organizations, legal assistance groups, politicians and even foreign consulates will be working together through the consortium to prepare fact sheets, offer workshops and otherwise address questions that immigrants in the New York area may have. It’s even possible that celebrities may be recruited to get the word out.
Until particulars of the program become available for community organizations and lawyers to proceed with filing applications under the new programs, there is still much that immigrants can do to prepare, speakers noted.
This is the time for immigrants to ensure that the documents they will have to provide, such as birth certificates, passports, and the like are in order.
Jorge Montalvo of the New York State Office for New Americans said that people with questions about the new executive action can call the organization’s hotline at 1-800-566-7636. Callers will be able to obtain information in 200 languages, he said.

Voices of New York

Posted by on Dec 16 2014. Filed under Community News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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