Wednesday, September 30, 2020

ACTIONNYC: MAYOR’S OFFICE OF IMMIGRANT AFFAIRS ANNOUNCES FUNDING AWARDS TO ORGANIZATIONS PROVIDING FREE AND SAFE IMMIGRATION LEGAL SERVICES TO NEW YORKERS CITYWIDE

 

ActionNYC RFP awards more than $16 million over the next 2.5 years to 21 community-based organizations and legal service providers across the five boroughs. Selected organizations will provide free high-quality immigration legal services to the City’s most historically under-represented communities in over 40 languages and indigenous dialects.

 

New ActionNYC Capacity-Building Fellowship supports the development of immigration legal services programs in community-based organizations serving hard-to-reach African, Asian, and Caribbean immigrant communities.


 The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and Department of Social Services/Human Resources Administration celebrate five years since the launch of ActionNYC by awarding 21 community-based organizations (CBOs) and legal service providers with more than $16 million in funding over the course of the next 2.5 years to provide immigration legal services to New York City’s immigrant communities. ActionNYC provides immigrant New Yorkers with free, comprehensive immigration legal screenings, legal representation, accurate and timely immigration-related information, and referrals to City-funded and community-based resources and support services.

 

Concluding a Request for Proposals (RFP) process initiated in November 2019, this investment further institutionalizes ActionNYC—the City’s premiere, free, community-based immigration legal services program—into the fabric of City-funded service offerings. Through the RFP awards, services will be provided at trusted community sites and at public schools, hospitals, and libraries citywide; anchored with a continued citywide hotline and appointment making system; and supported by continued legal training and assistance for ActionNYC attorneys and navigators.

 

The selected CBOs are uniquely positioned to meet community-specific needs due to their immigration legal expertise, strong local ties, and cultural and linguistic competence, and will serve immigrant communities that are historically under-represented and hard to reach. Through these awards, ActionNYC increases service provision to African, Asian, and Caribbean communities and furthers the City’s commitment to greater racial equity.

In addition to these awards, the City will provide more than $400,000 in funding to the ActionNYC Capacity-Building Fellowship program, which supports the development of legal expertise, infrastructure, and capacity of community-based organizations with small, limited, or growing immigration legal service programs. In Fiscal Year 2021, Fellows will serve immigrants from South Asia, Asia, Africa, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East, as well as immigrant members of the LGBTQ community.

 

“During this administration, we have made the largest local investment in immigration legal services in the nation because we know keeping families together and helping immigrant New Yorkers thrive makes us stronger as a city,” said Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Bitta Mostofi. “At a time when immigrant families continue to face cruel, xenophobic threats by the Trump Administration, New York City continues to stand with our immigrant communities. Furthering our commitment to diversity and inclusion by working with community organizations deeply rooted in our city’s hardest-to-reach immigrant communities, ActionNYC will reach even more New Yorkers in need at the trusted places they commonly turn to for help.”

 

“Penalizing families and children seeking food assistance and other essential services to make ends meet is unconscionable and un-American,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “Amid a pandemic and an unprecedented economic crisis, the Trump Administration is actively sowing distrust in government among our immigrant communities, which will only make our recovery harder. Our City remains committed to doing everything we can to protect and support our immigrant neighbors—and ActionNYC embodies this mission and commitment, which is why we’re proud to celebrate its progress and expand it to take that progress even further. We urge any New Yorker with questions or concerns about benefits, services, livelihood, or legal matters to get free legal help via the ActionNYC initiative.”   

  

“We are grateful for the partnerships MOIA is further enhancing to ensure all New Yorkers understand their rights regardless of their immigration status and are able to seek critical services throughout the City,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “Our public hospital system has historically come to the aid of undocumented populations to provide important healthcare services. We’re proud to continue to advocate for these populations alongside other City agencies, CBOs, and allies.”

 

“ActionNYC is a critical resource for thousands of immigrant New Yorkers, and these partnerships will help expand access to free and safe immigration legal services for communities in need,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “We are proud to help connect New Yorkers to these services through our schools and know this initiative will strengthen legal assistance for immigrant residents across the five boroughs.”

 

“Over the past nearly five years, ActionNYC has provided thousands of non-citizens living in New York City with a range of vital—and free—legal services, with the goal of ensuring that all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, can access the assistance to which they are entitled,” said HRA Administrator Gary Jenkins. “As our City continues to recover from the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on building back fairer and more equitably than before, this Administration understands that all communities must be able to share in the growth and prosperity. Our expansion of ActionNYC continues to make sure New York City remains a place where anyone can strive towards a better future and thrive.”   

 

“For 125 years, The New York Public Library has welcomed New Yorkers from all walks of life, providing greater access to opportunities and a deeper sense of community,” said Adriana Blancarte-Hayward, Manager of Outreach Services at The New York Public Library. “We are proud to be a trusted space for newcomers to our City, offering vital programs for immigrants. Opening our doors to legal service organizations that provide valuable programs that complement our offerings furthers our mission to ensure everyone who visits the Library receives the support they need to succeed.”

 

“The library is very often the first stop for immigrants upon their arrival in New York City and is as essential to the modern immigrant experience as Ellis Island was to those who arrived here a century ago,” said Nick Higgins, Chief Librarian at The Brooklyn Public Library. “We have long provided language classes, citizenship prep groups, legal services, civics workshops and a safe space for New York's diverse immigrant community to grow and thrive. We are delighted to be a part of Action NYC to continue this important, even urgent work in hard-to-reach-communities across the borough.”

 

New York City is home to 3.1 million immigrants who comprise about 37 percent of the city’s population and 45 percent of its workforce. Recognizing that when immigrants thrive, our City thrives, the de Blasio administration launched ActionNYC in December 2015 to provide immigrant New Yorkers with access to free, high-quality immigration legal services in their language, at safe locations in their community. The initial investment was more than $7.9 million—then the largest local investment in immigration legal services in the nation. 

 

Over the ensuing years, the current federal administration’s anti-immigrant policies, practices, and rhetoric heightened concerns among immigrant New Yorkers and increased the need for free and trusted immigration legal services. In this high-pressure environment, with the stakes for New York City’s immigrants higher than ever, ActionNYC fulfilled its mandate and provided immigrant New Yorkers with high-quality and timely immigration-related information and legal services, at trusted community locations, by professionals with relevant cultural and linguistic competencies. ActionNYC also provided referrals to other City-funded programs and organizations providing services contributing to the broader health and well-being of immigrant communities. Since its launch, ActionNYC has served over 35,000 immigrant New Yorkers and filed over 12,000 cases. 

 

The ActionNYC model enables community-based organizations to optimize their capacity to provide immigrant families with high quality, free legal services by pairing attorneys with trained navigators. Community navigators are community members who receive specialized training to assist in the provision of quality immigration services in their communities. Selected organizations receive legal technical assistance, including legal trainings and assistance in gaining or maintaining recognition and accreditation from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Access Programs (OLAP). This model was designed with input from a range of City agencies, legal service providers, community partners, and philanthropic partners.

 

The ActionNYC RFP awarded contracts will further ensure CBOs and legal service providers with linguistically competent staff can serve community members with free, safe, and high-quality immigration legal services in their language at trusted community sites. Through these new partners, ActionNYC will provide services to community members from hard-to-reach immigrant populations in neighborhoods throughout all five boroughs.

 

ActionNYC provides free comprehensive legal screenings to all of its clients and provides application assistance for a wide range of cases, including green card renewals, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewals, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) applications, and citizenship applications. Individuals also receive other ancillary benefits, including referrals for non-immigration-legal needs including food assistance, education assistance and opportunities, housing support, non-immigration legal services, mental health services, and health care.  ActionNYC also connects community members with key City programs including NYC Care, a key component of Mayor de Blasio’s Guaranteed Health Care commitment to New Yorkers, and IDNYC, the largest municipal identification program in the nation. With this support, New Yorkers will continue to receive comprehensive immigration legal screenings and, where needed, legal representation over the course of the coming years.

 

The organizations receiving funding, either directly or via sub-agreement, are:

 

  1. African Communities Together (ACT)
  2. African Services Committee (ASC)
  3. Arab American Association of New York (AAANY)
  4. BronxWorks, Inc.
  5. CAMBA Legal Services, Inc.
  6. Caribbean Women's Health Association (CWHA)
  7. Catholic Charities Community Services (CCCS)
  8. Chhaya Community Development Corporation (Chhaya CDC)
  9. Chinese American Planning Council (CPC)
  10. Haitian Americans United for Progress (HAUP)
  11. Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC)
  12. Jacob A Riis Neighborhood Settlement
  13. Little Sisters of the Assumption (LSA)
  14. Lutheran Social Services of Metropolitan New York (LSSNY)
  15. Make the Road New York (MRNY)
  16. MinKwon Center for Community Action
  17. New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG)
  18. Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC)
  19. SCO Family Services/Center for Family Life (CFL)
  20. Sunnyside Communities (SCS)
  21. The Door

 

“Our organization has been providing multilingual, culturally competent immigration legal services to underserved African immigrant communities across New York City for seven years. But until now we have been dependent on lawyers from other agencies to handle our cases,” said Amaha Kassa, Executive Director of African Communities Together (ACT). “This award from ActionNYC will enable ACT to serve our communities directly and meet the increasing needs of New York's fast-growing African immigrant communities.”

 

“For nearly four decades, African Services Committee has been dedicated to providing broad-spectrum solutions to immigrants, refugees, and asylees and we look forward to providing additional legal immigration services as a proud ActionNYC partner to lift up newcomers during this time of great fear, uncertainty, and loss,” said Franco Torres, Supervising Attorney at African Services Committee (ASC). “ActionNYC is an important program that allows organizations like ours to better serve and protect immigrant New Yorkers. We are thrilled to be a part of the expansion of this program and the vital support it offers to immigrant New Yorkers.”

 

“Since 2015, ActionNYC has changed and saved lives for thousands of immigrants across New York,” said Marwa Janini, Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York (AAANY). “As our city deals with the impacts of COVID-19, ActionNYC has been more essential than ever, providing lifelines to tens of thousands of families struggling due to the pandemic. We're incredibly proud to be a part of ActionNYC's work to protect and support immigrants who are the backbone of our city, and we look forward to working with ActionNYC to support New Yorkers through this crisis and beyond.”

 

“BronxWorks is proud to accept the ActionNYC grant awarded by the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Affairs. The ActionNYC program plays a critically important role in strengthening our community by providing free, safe, and reliable services to individuals and families that make up New York,” stated BronxWorks, Inc. “This program, in combination with the myriad of other services provided by BronxWorks, allows the agency to assist community members in a holistic manner that ensures the complex needs of the community can be addressed as a whole.”Today, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and Department of Social Services/Human Resources Administration celebrate five years since the launch of ActionNYC by awarding 21 community-based organizations (CBOs) and legal service providers with more than $16 million in funding over the course of the next 2.5 years to provide immigration legal services to New York City’s immigrant communities. ActionNYC provides immigrant New Yorkers with free, comprehensive immigration legal screenings, legal representation, accurate and timely immigration-related information, and referrals to City-funded and community-based resources and support services.

 

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