New York, NY-With today’s reports of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) massively increasing its presence in several sanctuary cities, including in New York State, immigrant advocates are renewing their call for Albany to fund desperately-needed immigration lawyers for New York’s families. In previous years, the Cuomo Administration has funded the Liberty Defense Project, a program offering free legal services to immigrants across New York state. However, the Governor eliminated funding for the program in his recently released 2021 Executive Budget, and the Assembly and Senate have not indicated their level of support.
Following the reports of the ratcheted up enforcement campaign—code-named Operation Palladium—Steve Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, issued this statement:
“This is an unfolding crisis. As Trump’s assault rifle-toting ICE agents are poised to flood New York City’s streets and target immigrant families, where is the State’s response? Our Albany electeds are threatening to leave vulnerable immigrant community-members alone as they face deportation, without the vital legal services they need to keep their families together. The Governor and the Legislature must continue to exert the leadership and moral authority they have shown in the past by ensuring all New Yorkers have access to lawyers, and by taking a critical first step by increasing - not cutting - funding for the Liberty Defense Project so that communities can get the immigration lawyers they need to keep them safe and secure. Any further delay means more of our communities are terrorized and more of New York’s families are forcibly separated, which hurts all New Yorkers in the end.”
Given the enhanced campaign by ICE, we urge service providers and community members to visit the New York Immigration Coalition’s Know Your Rights resource page. The page features information regarding the rights of community members when interacting with ICE in 12 languages as well as posters providing guidance on avoiding immigration scams, protecting their families when interacting with ICE, and creating a plan for their family in the event of deportation. The New York State New Americans Hotline is available to anyone with immigration questions or impacted by ICE raids at 1-800-566-7636. We urge anyone who is impacted by a raid or fears being arrested as a result of these operations to connect with an attorney as soon as possible.