Two nonprofit foundations were joined by members of the New York City Council today to announce they would combine resources to provide legal representation to illegal immigrant children facing deportation, according to the Robin Hood Foundation
, one of the nonprofits.
Today, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the Robin Hood Foundation and New York Community Trust announced the $1.9 million public-private partnership, known as the Unaccompanied Minor Children Initiative, which will fund free legal representation for more than 1,000 unaccompanied minor children appearing on the Juvenile and Surge Dockets at the New York Immigration Court.
The court, which typically sees less than 100 minor cases per month, is now taking at least 30 cases per day as a result of the recent surge of Central American immigrants who illegally crossed the border this summer.
On Sept. 16, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal announced representatives would be stationed at the federal immigration court to serve the needs of minor children undergoing deportation proceedings. Officials from the Department of Education would be made available to assist children with school enrollment, as well as to give them information about programs for English Language Learners, according to a press release from the Mayor's office
The New York City Council will draw from its existing budget to donate $1 million into the initiative, while the Robin Hood Foundation will match that with a donation of $550,000. The New York Community Trust will contribute $360,000 donation, according to a Robin Hood Foundation press release.
"The New York City Council will not stand by as this humanitarian crisis unfolds — we will take action. This innovative initiative will go a long way towards alleviating the overflow at the surge docket while also providing quality representation to thousands of children," said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
Mark-Veverito spoke before a task force about improvements that could be made to the state’s civil court system in terms of meeting the needs of lower-income New Yorkers, reports the Capital New York
She noted the city is planning to provide $4.9 million for legal services to poor immigrants and undocumented children.
Under de Blasio's administration, the city has embarked on an aggressive immigration reform agenda, which includes taking some unconventional approaches to encourage illegal immigrants to sign up for a new identification card program that begins in 2015. Last week, the city announced it would offer free or reduced-priced tickets to the Bronx Zoo, New York City Ballet and Carnegie Hall to those illegals who register for the program, Reuters reports
On Sept. 17, de Blasio was joined by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a press conference to announce their "Cities for Citizenship" program
, which seeks to increase citizenship among eligible U.S. permanent residents and promoting investment in related citizenship programs.
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