Legal Aid’s Commitment to Immigrant Representation Put on Full Display
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2016

As President-Elect Donald Trump prepares his policies on immigration after his tough campaign rhetoric on the issue, POLITICO New York reported on The Legal Aid Society’s broad commitment to immigrant representation and its willingness to fight any federal policies that could devastate immigrant families and communities. 

The article noted Legal Aid’s support of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pledge for more funding to challenge any federal efforts at large scale deportation. “This is a crucial step in the right direction, and we remain committed to working with both the City Council and the Mayor to ensure that immigrant families are not torn apart by the proposed draconian federal policies,” stated Seymour W. James, Legal Aid’s Attorney-in-Chief.

Adriene Holder, Attorney-in-Charge of the Civil Practice, and Maria Navarro, Acting Attorney-in-Charge of the Society's Immigration Law Unit, also provided perspective on the anticipated rise in immigration cases under the Trump Administration, as well as the positive results already for increased immigrant legal representation in New York City. “There’s a lot of misinformation and rhetoric about what it means to be an immigrant in the United States. These are our neighbors and they should be entitled to due process like anybody else,” Holder said.




POLITICO NewYork
Public law report: Public defenders see expanded immigration battle under Trump
By Colby Hamilton
November 22, 2016

NEW DEFENSE — City officials continue to place New York directly in the path of potential anti-immigrant policies under the incoming Trump administration. On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would resist all efforts to target communities for possible deportation and tracking based on religion.

“If the federal government tries to deport law-abiding New Yorkers who have no representation, we will step in. We will work and build on the work of the City Council to provide these New Yorkers with the lawyers they need to protect them and their families,” de Blasio said during a speech at Cooper Union.

De Blasio was applauded in a statement Monday by the Legal Aid Society’s Seymour James for his “commitment to expanding funding of legal representation for those New Yorkers facing deportation.”

“This is a crucial step in the right direction, and we remain committed to working with both the City Council and the Mayor to ensure that immigrant families are not torn apart by the proposed draconian federal policies,” James said.

The Legal Aid Society has praised the commitments made thus far by de Blasio and the City Council, led by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Adriene Holder, who heads up the Legal Aid Society’s civil division, said programs supported by city officials, such as New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, have seen positive results for the 1,000 immigrants who qualify for such services each year.

Holder said those receiving specialized legal aid have seen a ten-fold increase in finding successful relief in their cases. She noted that somewhere between 35 percent and 50 percent of cases are actually involving immigrants who have legal status, such as a green card.

She echoed the comments made by Maria Navarro, the head of Legal Aid Society’s immigration unit, to POLITICO New York regarding the expected uptick in cases under the Trump administration and the need now to make a statutory right for legal representation in immigration cases for those without financial resources. To meet this need, Holder said she was hopeful de Blasio and other elected officials’ rhetoric will mean a commitment to more funding.

“People don’t know who are clients are,” she said. “There’s a lot of misinformation and rhetoric about what it means to be an immigrant in the United States. These are our neighbors and they should be entitled to due process like anybody else.”