NEW YORK, NY – Today New York City announced a deal that would provide $1.6 million in funding for immigration attorneys fighting deportation cases, in order to address the increasing backlog in New York City immigration courts – the largest in the nation.
Yet, with just four days until the budget is due, New York State has failed to include any funding for the Liberty Defense Project (LDP), which provides money for legal and support services to thousands of immigrant New Yorkers facing deportation across the state. 56 organizations from across the state are calling on the Governor and State legislature to allocate funding for LDP in the state budget.
Created just two years ago by Governor Cuomo, the Liberty Defense Project has increasingly lost funding – dropping by $1.3 million last year and now down to zero dollars, despite the high demand and urgency for immigration legal assistance. Immigration cases often take years to complete and without annual funding, lawyers will be laid off, forced to walk away from their clients, and their clients possibly deported as a result.
Immigrant advocates and legal service providers are calling on Governor Cuomo and both the Assembly and Senate to restore funding for LDP in the state budget.
"It is inexplicable that as the Trump administration continues its assault on New York's communities, our State leaders are ripping away its lifeline for legal defense and protection against deportation. It is a complete sham for our leaders – Governor Cuomo, Speaker Heastie and Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins – to say they stand up to Trump on behalf of our immigrants – and then remove the very assistance that protects New Yorkers from Trump's deportation force. The final state budget must include funding for the Liberty Defense Project, so that every immigrant New Yorker has access to legal counsel and assistance. Words of solidarity from the State Legislature and Governor Cuomo aren't going to cut it – we need everyone to put their money where their mouths are," said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition.
“It’s absolutely critical that the final state budget include at least $10 Million for the Liberty Defense Fund, consistent with the past three years. If we fail to include this funding, cases will be dropped, many of our undocumented neighbors will face deportation proceedings and families will be ripped apart. It needs to be a top priority," stated State Senator Julia Salazar, Chair of the Senate Women's Issues Committee.
“The Liberty Defense Project has helped more than 30,000 immigrant New Yorkers facing removal and other immigration proceedings. We are fighting to make sure that critical legal services for immigrant families are properly funded. Politics cannot get in the way of keeping families together. What is vitally important is that immigrant legal services are given the resources necessary to protect our communities,” said Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz.
List of Supporting Organizations
The New York Immigration Coalition
Make the Road New York
The Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County, Inc.
Catholic Charities Tompkins/Tioga
Worker Justice Center of New York, Inc.
Hofstra Deportation Defense Clinic
CUNY School of Law, Immigrant and Non-Citizen Rights Clinic
Catholic Migration Services
Emerald Isle Immigration Center
Law Office of Jose Perez
Legal Aid Society of Rochester
Center for Safety and Change
The Door's Legal Services Center
New York Legal Assistance Group
Social Action Ministry/Syracuse Catholic Diocese
Council on American Islamic Relations, New York
Safe Horizon Immigration Law Project
Safe Passage Project
Comprehensive Development. Inc
African Communities Together
Community Legal Advocates of New York Inc.
Damayan Migrant Workers Association
Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow
MinKwon Center for Community Action
The Domestic Violence Project- Urban Justice Center
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
OLA of Eastern Long Island
Centro Corazon de Maria
Arab American Association of NY
Long Beach Latino Civic Association
Kids in Need of Defense
Catholic Charities Community Services, Archdiocese Of New York
Sakhi for South Asian Women
Academy of Medical & Public Health Services
Tompkins County Immigrant Rights Coalition
Central American Refugee Center - New York
Empire Justice Center
Southside Community Mission Inc.
Chinese progressive association
Justice for Migrant Families of WNY
Journey's End Refugee Services
The Presbyterian Church
LSA Family Health Service, Inc.
NYU Immigrant Defense Initiative
Volunteers of Legal Service
Tompkins Co. Immigrant Rights Coalition
North Country Allies
Workers' Center of Central New York
Syracuse Immigrant and Refugee Defense Network