Acting Commissioner Bitta Mostofi of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs announced the expansion of ActionNYC to provide additional immigration legal services to high-need populations in their community and in their language. ActionNYC, the City’s premier program providing free and safe immigration legal services, has awarded six community-based organizations and legal service providers with nearly $700,000 in funding to provide additional services across the city. These organizations are uniquely positioned to meet community-specific needs due to their strong local ties and well-established cultural and linguistic competence. This expansion of services will address immigrant legal services, particularly for hard-to-reach immigrant communities. Through these efforts, ActionNYC will be expanding and deepening service provision to Chinese, Korean, and South Asian New Yorker serving organizations/communities. Services are expected to launch late spring/early summer of 2018.

Bitta Mostofi. Photo by Edwin J. Torres /Mayoral Photography Office.

Bitta Mostofi. Photo by Edwin J. Torres /Mayoral Photography Office.

“We have made the largest local investment in immigrant legal services in the nation because we know that our neighbors are under threat from the Trump Administration,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “By working with community organizations, we can connect with immigrant residents at local sites they already frequent and reach more New Yorkers in need.”

“The City is committed to reaching more New Yorkers through free and trusted immigration legal services, including communities who’ve traditionally had fewer interactions with city government. By building on our partnerships with community organizations, this expansion of ActionNYC will fill gaps in the field and strengthen services for immigrant New Yorkers in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens, through sites they already know and trust,” said Bitta Mostofi, Acting Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “This funding will enable more immigrant New Yorkers to gain full understandings of their legal options, including opportunities for immigration relief.”

“In a city where close to 40 percent of our residents are foreign-born, ActionNYC is a critical tool to connect immigrant New Yorkers to services and assistance for a wide range of legal needs,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “This expansion will allow the City to go even further in providing help in communities with a high need for these ActionNYC services. We are proud of our collaboration with MOIA for this important work.”

“As a proud partner with MOIA on a number of initiatives, we are excited about the expansion of ActionNYC and the important support it offers to immigrant New Yorkers at this critical time,” said Matthew Klein, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. “Our office’s multiple collaborations with MOIA, including the ActionNYC Capacity-Building Fellowship, provide funding, data analysis, and program assessments and reflect our commitment to the immigrant community and belief in the central role it plays in making our city great.”

“ActionNYC is a vital program that shows our commitment as a City to protect immigrant New Yorkers,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Immigration Committee. “More than ever, immigration legal services are needed, given the Federal policies threatening to separate mixed-status families. New Yorkers need to know their options and possibilities of immigration relief and what a better place to obtain those services than in trusted community organizations where they can find assistance in their own language.”

New York City is home to 3.1 million immigrant residents, and threats to programs such as DACA and TPS, as well as increased immigration enforcement, have dramatically increased the need for free and trusted immigration legal services. ActionNYC’s Capacity-Building Fellowship, beginning last June, provided funding, training, and technical assistance to immigrant-serving community organizations across the five boroughs. In order to continue building the capacity of local organizations to provide support to their communities and address gaps in services, ActionNYC undertook an extensive consultation process to receive input from community-based organizations, legal service providers, and residents. Based on this assessment, ActionNYC is expanding and deepening service provision in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens for immigrant communities that are particularly hard to reach, including recently arrived populations from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.

ActionNYC copyActionNYC awarded nearly $700,000 to six community-based organizations and legal services providers to support connecting hard-to-reach immigrant communities with free, safe, and high-quality immigration legal services at trusted community sites and in their language. This funding will go towards ensuring that linguistically competent staff conduct targeted outreach so that community members from hard-to-reach immigrant populations are connected to legal services. Individuals will also be connected with other ancillary benefits, including social services, Medicaid, and IDNYC. Organizations will 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). With this support, more New Yorkers will receive comprehensive immigration legal screenings and, where needed, legal representation over the course of the next year.

The organizations receiving funding are:

  • Council of Peoples Organization (COPO)
  • Chhaya Community Development Corporation (Chhaya CDC)
  • Korean Community Services (KCS)
  • Lutheran Social Services of Metropolitan New York (LSSNY)
  • Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC)
  • New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG)

Through these new partners, ActionNYC services will be provided in the Kensington and Midwood neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Chinatown in Manhattan, and in Bayside, Flushing, and Jackson Heights in Queens. In addition, two of the organizations receiving funding are part of ActionNYC’s Capacity-Building Fellowship: CPC and COPO.

“The expansion of ActionNYC into Jackson Heights and other parts of Queens is fantastic news for my constituents who struggle to navigate America’s overly complicated immigration system,” said Congressman Joe Crowley, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “We must support all New Yorkers by providing them with the resources they need to thrive. The free services provided by ActionNYC help keep our families together and our communities safe.”

“I thank MOIA for expanding their immigration legal assistance to high-need populations in our Chinese, Korean, and South Asian communities,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Brooklyn will greatly benefit from the provision of legal services in Kensington and Midwood, not only through support of pressing immigration matters but also the possibility that these culturally competent interactions will lead to greater meaningful interaction with civic life.”

“In a city built on immigrants from its inception, the people of New York City are under daily attack from our federal government,” said Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell, Chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Arts and Tourism. “Policies enacted under the guise of eliminating ‘crime’ are being used to deport our families, friends and neighbors. Military veterans, hardworking people with no serious infractions, and those who arrived as children are all being subjected to this unfairness. Immigrants are what make NYC, and I thank Mayor de Blasio, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs’ Acting Commissioner Mostofi, CUNY, and all others involved in expanding legal services to communities that make NYC one of the best places to live in the world.”

“Given the federal government’s increasingly hostile atmosphere towards immigrants, it is absolutely essential for our city and state to step up and support our immigrant communities,” Assembly Member Yuh-line Niou. “No matter what the President might say or tweet, there are laws in place meant to protect our immigrants, and it is our job to help individuals gain access to the system to fight back against any attempts to strip them of their legal rights. I was also happy to see the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) included in MOIA’s ActionNYC expansion. CPC does an outstanding job providing our community with linguistically-accessible and culturally-competent services; they’re a pillar in our community, so people know and trust them and will turn to them for help in times of need. Thank you again to MOIA for all of your work, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Assembly to help protect our immigrant communities.”

“This ActionNYC expansion means stronger legal protection for our city’s immigrant communities,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “New York City is a sanctuary city, and this expansion helps us keep our promise to keep immigrant families safe. As a Council Member who represents one of the most diverse districts in NYC, I am pleased that the administration is bolstering this important program.”

“The best way to provide much needed legal aid to immigrant communities is to bring these services directly to the people most in need of this aid,” said Council Member Jumaane Williams. “I want to thank the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs for helping to make legal services more readily available to people in my district and around the city – as the federal government poses a threat to immigrants on many fronts, we on the local level must provide all the protection and support that we can.”

“COPO is excited to participate in the ActionNYC program,” Mohammad Razvi, CEO of the Council of Peoples Organization. “As a community-based organization, we have seen an increased demand for immigration legal services, especially within the last two years. As a result, we now have a very long waiting list for these services. The ActionNYC program will give us the resources to meet this need and build our capacity to provide high-quality legal services, navigation, and outreach. We anticipate that ActionNYC funding will be instrumental in helping COPO bring our immigration program to scale to achieve the greatest possible impact in the lives of immigrant New Yorkers.”

“We are proud to partner with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs on this important initiative that brings immigration services to our communities,” said Annetta Seecharran, Executive Director, Chhaya Community Development Corporation. “Our role, as community-based organizations is to ensure that the communities we serve, specifically in hard-to-reach communities like Richmond Hill and Jamaica where a large number of Indo-Caribbean and Punjabi Indian and Bengali communities reside without access to much resources, are provided with the most comprehensive immigration screening services which Action NYC enables us to do. We look forward to standing by the side of our fellow community partners and city agencies in increasing the economic, political, and social rights of our communities.”

“KCS is excited to be working alongside the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs’ ActionNYC Program as one of their Navigation Sites,” said Linda Lee, Executive Director of Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York. “Through this expansion of immigration services, KCS will have the capacity to provide culturally and linguistically-competent immigration legal services to hard-to-reach immigrant communities in NYC.”

“Lutheran Social Services of New York is excited to be a part of the expansion of the Action NYC program into new communities,” said Lisa Bagley, Director of the Immigration Legal Program at Lutheran Social Services of New York. “At a time when there is such hateful rhetoric about immigrants coming from the federal government, we cannot overstate our appreciation for the continuing commitment of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs to helping immigrant New Yorkers access free, high-quality legal services. With this expansion of the program into hard-to-reach communities, more people than ever will have access to legal services, right in their neighborhoods.”

“The Chinese-American Planning Council looks forward to working with the City through ActionNYC,” said Wayne Ho, President and CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council. “CPC is dedicated to promoting the social and economic empowerment of Asian American and immigrant communities. ActionNYC will provide CPC with the opportunity to expand our legal services, which is critical during these complicated times.”

“NYLAG is proud to expand our partnership with the Chinese-American Planning Council and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs to continue providing critical legal services to New York City’s immigrants,” said Beth Goldman, President and Attorney-in-Charge of the New York Legal Assistance Group. “We thank Mayor Bill de Blasio, Acting Commissioner Bitta Mostofi, and CPC President Wayne Ho for recognizing the increasing legal needs of immigrants, in particular those living within isolated and difficult-to-reach communities. Since its inception two years ago, ActionNYC has become a model for the nation in delivering community-based legal services in the neighborhoods where immigrants live and in the languages that they speak. Now, more than ever, we applaud the City’s commitment to protecting the rights of immigrant residents.”

About ActionNYC

ActionNYC is for every immigrant New Yorker. It offers free, safe immigration legal help in a network of trusted community organizations, public health facilities, and schools. To make an appointment to receive free immigration legal help, call 311 and say “ActionNYC.”

ActionNYC is a partnership between the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and the City University of New York.