The $3 Million City Council initiative will provide free legal services to anyone affected by President Obama’s historic decision to defer deportation action for young immigrants

New York, NY – Speaker Chrisitne C. Quinn and Council Members today announced the Immigrant Opportunities Initiative that will provide free legal services to all immigrants affected by President Obama’s historic decision to provide relief from deportation for young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

The $3 million City Council initiative will provide immigrants dependable services in languages they can understand through a network of community based organizations. Legal Aid Society, Legal Services NYC and the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) are the principal citywide providers for eligible deferred action applicants.

Beginning today, individuals who were brought to the United States as children, who meet certain criteria, and who do not hold a national security risk, will be able to apply for immigration relief through a process known as “Deferred Action”.

The new policy requires immigrants to fill out forms available on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services web site, leading some to seek legal help to get this done. Unfortunately, the new policy has the potential for exploitation by unlicensed or fraudulent immigration service providers. The City Council’s initiative works to combat this and to caution immigrants against using unlicensed practitioners.

In the past, immigrants who have sought the often-unscrupulous services of a local “notario” or unauthorized immigration consultant for citizenship issues have been swindled out of money and, in some cases, deported. The Attorney General’s office has begun investigating “Notarios”, which is an excellent first step. To supplement these efforts, the Council is setting up the free legal services as a preferred alternative.

“We encourage New Yorkers to visit these providers, such as the Legal Aid Society, Legal Services NYC and the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) to get information and services that they can trust,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “The City Council has made this investment because we believe that undocumented immigrants have a right to an education and a safe and productive life here in the U.S. Immigrants are a vital part of our economic base, and it is essential that we welcome them to our shores. We believe that funding that provides these New Yorkers with the ability to stay in this country legally is money well spent, and an investment in our future.”

“Because of the leadership and commitment of Speaker Quinn and my colleagues to issues of importance to the immigrant community, this year the City Council was able to allocate $3 million for the Immigrant Opportunities Initiative (IOI),” said NYC Council Immigration Chairperson Daniel Dromm. “We are proud that we were able to keep general IOI funding at the same amount as last year and provide an increase of $600,000 for legal service to be provided by CUNY Now. This funding is vitally important to the immigrant community for legal services, English as a Second Language classes and for civics lessons.”

“The Legal Aid Society stands ready to help young immigrant New Yorkers realize their dreams under the new federal program, and we commend the Speaker and the Council for leading New York City’s efforts to make sure that the necessary legal services are in place through the Immigration Opportunities Initiative,” said Steven Banks, Attorney-in-Chief of The Legal Aid Society

NYLAG has prioritized immigrants and their families since its founding over twenty years ago, and we currently help more than 25,000 immigrants each year,” said New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) President & Attorney in Charge, Yisroel Schulman. “The City Council funding will enable us to provide holistic legal assistance to these clients, not only for immigration matters, but also to address interrelated needs such as benefits, housing, consumer and family law. Our goal is to help low-income immigrants receive the maximum level of relief to which they’re entitled, so that they can lead healthy, independent and productive lives. The funding will also enable us to launch our new Deferred Action Assistance Project, which will help thousands of undocumented youth achieve legal status so they are able pursue career and education opportunities previously denied them.”

“Immigrants face many challenges in New York City, all complicated by the fact that quality legal help is hard to find,” said Legal Services NYC Executive Director Raun Rasmussen. “Some immigrants are victimized by fraudulent “notarios” with devastating outcomes: immigrants’ are denied benefits, or worse, they get detained, placed in deportation proceedings, and separated from their families. With this new funding from the City Council, LSNYC will be able to help more clients achieve immigration-related success and place them on the pathway to independence and stability. And because we provide comprehensive legal services, we can help solve immigration related matters and also address the housing, family, and consumer related problems that create obstacles to success.”


Legal Aid Society
111 Livingston street,7th floor
Brooklyn, NY 11201

New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG)
7 Hanover Square
New York, NY 10004
Hotline: 212-613-6597 or e-mail

Legal Services NYC
Bronx: 718-928-3700
Brooklyn: 718-636-1155
Manhattan: 212-348-7449
Queens: 347-592-2180
Staten Island: 718-233-6480