Public-Private Partnership Which Provides Free Access To An Attorney Has Won 72 Asylum Cases and 47 Children Have Obtained Lawful Permanent Residency

Speaker Mark-Viverito: “We’re living up to our highest ideals by protecting these children”

NEW YORK – New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and City Council Immigration Chair Carlos Menchaca announced today that to date the New York City Council’s unaccompanied minors initiative has won 60 asylum cases and 41children have obtained lawful permanent residency. The New York City Council’s Unaccompanied Minors Initiative was established in 2014 following children fleeing violence in Central America and provides pro-bono attorney’s for every minor who arrives in New York City. As of FY 2016, 921 cases have been accepted for representation and 101 have been concluded successfully. The initiative is a public-private partnership between the Council and the Robin Hood Foundation and New York Community Trust. In the FY 2017 budget, the City Council, in partnership with the Administration, allocated $1.5 million to the Children Advocates’ Relief Effort (ICARE) partners, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York (CCCS), Central American Legal Assistance (CALA), The Door, The Legal Aid Society (the Society), and the Safe Passage Project. This is in addition to the $1.1 million in funding provided by the Robin Hood Foundation and the New York Community Trust, whose increase reflects the concern over the increased numbers of child refugees migrating to New York.

“We are living up to our highest ideals by protecting these children,” said Speaker Mark-Viverito. “Across the nation too many of these children face unequal access to justice and it’s time for others to step up. Whether it is limiting our interactions with ICE, removing ICE from Rikers Island or establishing a municipal ID which is open to all regardless of immigration status, New York City is proud to have policies which treat our immigrants humanely.”

Council Immigration Chair Carlos Menchaca said: “ICARE results demonstrate that the New York City Council did the right thing in responding immediately to the high need for legal assistance for unaccompanied minors. The City Council acted fast when confronted by this humanitarian crisis by accessing city dollars. We understood that when you add competent and trustworthy lawyers to the equation, unaccompanied minors are more likely to get positive results in court. I want to personally thank Speaker Mark Viverito and our colleagues on the Council who supported this action and thank the dedicated lawyers working on these cases. Together, we are setting the model for other cities to follow.”

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“The New York Community Trust is pleased to continue to provide legal help for immigrant children who arrived in this country hoping to build a better life. Most are already on the way to becoming productive citizens, and we’re eager to hear about their future accomplishments,” said Shawn V. Morehead, Senior Program Director of New York Community Trust.

Fiscal 2016 Accomplishments

ICARE Funded Partners:

  • To date, of the 1,131 cases ICARE partners have accepted for representation, 119 cases have been concluded successfully:
    • 72 children have been granted asylum and 47 children have obtained lawful permanent residency through Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS).
  • In addition, immigration court judges terminated proceedings against 311 minors, allowing them to pursue SIJS through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • The immigration court also administratively closed 20 cases and the government exercised prosecutorial discretion in 13 cases.
  • More successful outcomes anticipated in the coming months with approximately 433 cases pending resolution, including:
    • 161 SIJS adjustment cases with USCIS;
    • 94 asylum cases; and
    • 178 petitions in family court.
  • An additional 16 cases have approved family petitions and are pending adjustment filings with USCIS.