Earlier this month Mayor de Blasio unveiled a $16.4 million legal services plan as a part of his executive budget which would provide undocumented immigrants facing deportation and other proceedings legal representation.
The Mayor later revealed that this funding would not be provided for immigrants in removal proceedings who have been convicted of certain crimes.
Today during the Executive Budget Hearing, the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal doubled down on New York City's unwillingness to offer true due process to every New Yorker facing deportation by excluding individuals with certain criminal convictions.
Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said:
"The New York Immigration Coalition is disappointed that NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio would back away from the basic premise of universal representation that has been a hallmark of New York City's immigration legal programs and would deny the right to counsel to those immigrants who would need it the most. While we welcome a commitment to investing an unprecedented 16.4 million in legal services for people facing deportation and detention, the only way to ensure that every New Yorkers receives a fair day in Court is to provide access to counsel for all.
Our criminal justice and immigration systems are fundamentally flawed, as the Mayor himself has stated in the past, and nowhere is that more obvious than at the intersection of these two systems. The NYIC stands with Speaker Mark-Viverito and urges the Mayor to revise his proposed budget. After all, at a time when immigrants are under senseless attack by the federal government, this is still our New York: a city made strong by its diversity."
“Parsing out justice, due process and fairness to some people and not others is, simply stated, wrong,” added Lisa Schreibersdorf, Executive Director of Brooklyn Defender Services. “When lawyers represent people in immigration court, we can be assured that no one is deported based on a mistake or wrongfully under the law. Everyone deserves this assurance and any attempt to limit this right should be opposed with every fiber in our beings as Americans and New Yorkers."
"With NYIFUP, New York has pioneered a model of universal representation that is a critical intervention given the rampant racial and economic inequalities in the criminal legal and immigration systems. At IDP, we have seen firsthand the profound impact access to free counsel has had on immigrants facing deportation and their families. Universal representation brings an element of humanity to a cruel, disorienting, and traumatic immigration process. As the federal government ferociously demonizes immigrants with convictions, now is not the time to turn away from our values and from our commitment to the most vulnerable New Yorkers. If we are serious about building a better New York that works for everyone, we cannot reserve fairness for some and deny it to others,” said Mizue Aizeki, Deputy Director, Immigrant Defense Project.
The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees. The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.