Lenni Benson on WNYC

What it Means That Trump Wants to Limit ‘Unaccompanied’ Status for Minors Crossing the Borders

by Sarah Gonzalez, reporter for WNYC

Lenni Benson, Founder of Safe Passage Project 

Sarah Gonzalez discusses the potential consequences of President Donald Trump looking to limit ‘unaccompanied’ status for immigrant children. Tune in here to listen to Sarah Gonzalez interviewing Lenni Benson, founder of Safe Passage Project, and to read the full article.

Safe Passage’s Alexandra Rizio in Yes! Magazine

The Woman Giving Refugee Kids Free Lawyers:

Alexandra Rizio, Defending children from deportation

Yes! Magazine featured our own Alexandra Rizio, Senior Staff Attorney, and wrote about her advocacy for immigrants and refugees.

Click here to read the full article. 

 

 

Rex Chen, Safe Passage Mentor Attorney, Comments on New Deportation Policy

Please see below for an English translation of the article. 

La nueva política de deportaciones será difícil de batallar en los tribunales

Las nuevas directrices migratorias en Estados Unidos convierten a todo inmigrante ilegal en objeto de expulsión. Los expertos prevén un aluvión de detenciones.

AMANDA MARS, Nueva York 22 FEB 2017 – 22:04 CET

 

Habrá juicios, detenciones, manifestaciones. También conflictos entre el Gobierno federal y esas llamadas “ciudades santuario” -Nueva York, Los Ángeles o Chicago- que hacen la vista gorda con los inmigrantes sin papeles. Pero el corazón de las nuevas directrices de la Administración de Trump sobre las deportaciones será difícil de batallar en los tribunales, al menos, por el momento: la política de prioridad en la expulsión es una potestad presidencial y, además, los documentos publicados este miércoles no especifican los procedimientos de la puesta en marcha.

“Muchas partes del memorando que hemos conocido hoy hablan de que se tiene que crear un comité para ver cómo implementan las medidas, con lo cual es muy difícil llevarlo ante un juez, porque aún no se ha puesto en marcha. Lo que pasó con el decreto del 27 de enero [el que vetaba temporalmente la entrada a los llegados de siete países de mayoría musulmana] es que el Gobierno lo puso en marcha inmediatamente y se pudo parar. Ahora hay que ver cómo todo eso entra en vigor”, explica Rex Chen, miembro de Safe Passage Project, una asociación de abogados sin ánimo de lucro de Nueva York que ayuda a los miles de menores de edad que entran cada año solos y de forma irregular.

Las directrices conocidas este viernes mantienen la protección a los llamados dreamers, jóvenes que llegaron como niños a Estados Unidos y que han crecido en el país sin papeles. Pero Chen advierte de que “esto solo significa que aún no hay una decisión tomada al respecto, Trump dijo que era un asunto muy complejo y necesitaba tiempo, pero no se sabe aún qué hará”.

Faye Hipsman, del Instituto de Política Migratoria, una organización independiente para estudio de los movimientos migratorios, recalca que detener, en bloque, las nuevas directrices “es muy difícil, aunque probablemente veremos muchos litigios, porque el presidente es el que tiene la autoridad a la hora de fijar las prioridades en las deportaciones”. Hipsman coincide con Chen en que la situación de los dreamers, los que un día fueron niños migrantes, no está clara todavía.

El principal cambio de la guía de actuación de Trump es que es esfuerzo en la detención y expulsión de los inmigrantes sin papeles -se calcula que hay unos 11 millones en Estados Unidos- ya no son aquellos con delitos a la espalda, sino que “todo el mundo en situación irregular puede ser expulsado”.

Para aquellos en situación irregular que lleven menos de dos años en el país, además, se ha abierto la puerta a las expulsiones inmediatas, sin pasar por el tribunal. El problema de un extranjero sin papeles que sea detenido será poder demostrar que lleva más tiempo en Estados Unidos y para eso es necesario tener localizados rápidamente documentos que lo justifiquen. “No creo que tengan que llevar las pruebas encima todo el tiempo, pero sí es importante que sus familiares o amigos sepan muy bien dónde están y puedan entregarlos enseguida”, apunta Chen.

Llevar a cabo las deportaciones será costoso, de momento, el departamento de Seguridad Interior ha anunciado que contratará 15.000 nuevos agentes. William A. Stock, de la Asociación Americana de Abogados de Inmigración, advierte de que “el incremento masivo en detenciones requerirá miles de millones en fondos que el Congreso tendrá que imponer a los contribuyentes”, y la falta de recursos para contratar a los jueces de inmigración y los agentes de asilo “significa que el sistema se volverá más lento y disfuncional”.

Algunas organizaciones sostienen que el giro en la política de deportaciones ya se empezó a ver en las últimas semanas. Hace dos, de hecho, una operación de cinco días por parte de la agencia encargada de aplicar las leyes migratorias se saldó con centenares de detenidos en al menos seis Estados de todo el país.

 

The new deportation policy will be difficult to deal with in court.

The new immigration guidelines in the United States make any illegal immigrant subject to expulsion. Experts predict a barrage of arrests.

AMANDA MARS, New York FEB 22 2017 – 22:04 CET

 

There will be trials, detentions, demonstrations. Also conflicts between the federal government and those so-called “sanctuary cities” – New York, Los Angeles or Chicago – that turn a blind eye to undocumented immigrants. But the heart of the Trump administration’s new guidelines on deportations will be difficult to battle in court, at least for the time being: the priority policy on expulsion is a presidential power, and in addition, the documents released this Wednesday do not specify start-up procedures.

“Many parts of the memorandum that we have known today speak of a committee having to be set up to see how they implement the measures, making it very difficult to bring before a judge because it has not yet been set in motion. Decree of January 27 [the one that temporarily vetoed the arrival of the newcomers of seven countries of Muslim majority] is that the Government started it immediately and it was able to stop. Now it is necessary to see how all this enters into force,” explains Rex Chen, a member of the Safe Passage Project, a New York nonprofit law association that helps the thousands of children entering every year on their own and in an irregular manner.

The guidelines known this Friday maintain the protection of so-called dreamers, young people who arrived as children to the United States and who have grown up in the country without papers. But Chen warns that “this just means that there is still no decision made, Trump said it was a very complex matter and needed time, but it is not yet known what he will do.”

Faye Hipsman of the Institute of Migration Policy, an independent organization for the study of migratory movements, stresses that blocking the new guidelines “is very difficult, although we will probably see a lot of litigation, because the president is the one that has the authority to set the priorities in the deportations.” Hipsman agrees with Chen that the situation of dreamers, who once were migrant children, is not clear yet.

The main change in Trump’s action guide is that it is an effort to arrest and expel undocumented migrants – an estimated 11 million in the United States – are no longer those with crimes on their backs, rather “everyone in an irregular situation can be expelled.”

For those in irregular situations that have been in the country less than two years, in addition, the door has been opened to immediate expulsions, without going through the court. The problem of an undocumented foreigner being detained will be to prove that he has been in the United States for the longest time, and for that it is necessary to quickly locate documents that justify it. “I do not think they have to take the evidence on them all the time, but it’s important that family members or friends know where they are and can deliver them right away,” Chen notes.

Carrying out the deportations will be costly, so far the Department of Homeland Security has announced that it will hire 15,000 new agents. William A. Stock of the American Immigration Lawyers Association warns that “the massive increase in detentions will require billions in funds that Congress will have to impose on taxpayers,” and the lack of resources to hire immigration judges and asylum agents “means that the system will become slower and more dysfunctional.”

Some organizations argue that the shift in deportation policy has already begun to emerge in recent weeks. Two days ago, in fact, a five-day operation by the immigration enforcement agency resulted in hundreds of detainees in at least six states across the country.

 

Shout-out to ICARE in Times editorial

On December 18, 2016 The New York Times published an editorial, “Proud to Be a Sanctuary City” that cites a “groundbreaking City Council program”. We know this program as ICARE and we are proud to be part of this program and be responsible for some of the 1,265 cases mentioned in this piece.

For the full article visit The New York Times Editorials, or here.

Letter to City Council Speaker signed by Safe Passage receives press attention

In an article published on December 7, 2016, “‘Broken windows’ policing could hand city’s immigrants over to Trump, lawyers say” Crain’s examines speculation of what life for immigrants might be like under Trump. In particular, Crain’s focuses on how the city will behave as a “sanctuary-city” and how low-level arrests might mean deportation.

The article contains the joint letter to Speaker Mark-Viverito signed by Rich Leimsider, Executive Director, on behalf of Safe Passage along with leaders from Brooklyn Defender Services, The Legal Aid Society, The Bronx Defenders, Central American Legal Assistance, The Door and Catholic Charities Community Services, who together write to say “The NYPD’s high-arrest policies thus effectively provide the federal government with ready-made lists of thousands of immigrant New Yorkers whose humanity, family and community ties, and even lawful residency, can be undermined simply because they bear the label of ‘criminal’ for the most paltry alleged offenses.”

Read the article and our letter in its entirety on Crain’s, or here.

Safe Passage honored on Jezebel, Medium & RageDonate

As an early holiday present, Safe Passage received shout outs from several different websites. Check them out here:

Jezebel with “10 More Causes That Deserve Your Time and Money on Giving Tuesday” and “A List of Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigotry Organizations That Need Your Support“.

Medium with “A Christmas Gift List for ‘Woke’ Santas and Maybe Even You

And on RageDonate

We’re very excited and humbled to receive this attention, so thank you to Jezebel, Medium and RageDonate. Check them out and join us in celebrating the buzz.

Happy Holidays from Safe Passage!

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Please join us in taking a moment to reflect upon the last year. 2016 has offered so many opportunities for us to learn and grow here at Safe Passage Project, and we want to thank you for your support.
Highlights from 2016

-Helped 52 Youth Receive Green Cards
– Helped 16 Youth Obtain Prosecutorial Discretion
– Hosted an incredible World Refugee Day
– Organized and Executed two Field Days at Riverdale Country School
– Worked with over 412 pro bono attorneys
– Hired our first Full-time Executive Director
– Opened a Satellite Office on Long Island
– Partnered with two new fellowship organizations
Screened 297 youth in immigration court or at our offices
Assisted more than 590 children – working with them to ensure they do not have to face immigration court alone.

We are grateful for the incredible clients and pro bono attorneys we were able to work with this year. And we are humbled by the press attention we have received in recent months. We encourage you to check out Jezebel, RageDonate and other year end lists that have graciously promoted us and went out of their way to acknowledge and support organizations dedicated to social good.

Entering the new year we are excited to keep serving our clients, take on new clients, and bring more voices like yours on board to our mission—especially given the uncertain political climate. Closing 2016 we are in need of additional resources to continue to assist as many immigrant youth as we can. Please consider making a donation today. A contribution of $50 covers the the cost of a child’s travel to and from court and to meet her attorney. $1000 covers legal and social work expenses for one child for six months.

We greatly appreciate all of the good things that came our way in 2016. We could not do what we do without the sustained support of generous donors.

Wishing you a great finish to 2016,

The Safe Passage Project Team

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Attorney of the Week

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Safe Passage is excited to announce that this week’s Attorney of the Week is Sam Koch. And special thank you to Ruthie Abel for her photography of Sam.

It was Sam’s passion for working with children that brought him to Safe Passage—prior to law school Sam taught at an elementary school in Harlem. And in his own words, when it comes to working with kids, “there’s nothing more rewarding”.

When Sam started his pro bono work with us, he had never worked on immigration law before, but now he lists this experience among the most rewarding of his legal career. Entering this process, the recognition of how important his contributions would be to his client’s immigration status made him nervous. However, reflecting on his experience he explained, “the staff at Safe Passage put my fears to rest…Because of their help, [I] felt confident in my ability to advocate for my client, and [I] felt prepared for each court appearance.”

Sam considers this experience a prime example of lawyers’ unique ability to empower others. Looking back, Sam considers that even for him—after having gone to law school, passing the bar, clerking for a judge, and working for a law firm that provides great training—there are rules and procedures underlying our judicial system that he still has difficulty navigating. In his words, he “can’t imagine how scary it would be to try to navigate all that as a non-lawyer or without representation, let alone for a child that just arrived in this country.”

And now, with this experience under his belt, Sam is looking forward to giving back more. He describes his new knowledge of the SIJS process and recognition of his abilities to navigate these legal systems as motivation to keep serving. And after seeing how overloaded Safe Passage’s docket is, how many children out there need help from qualified attorneys, and having such a wonderful experience with his client and her family, he wants to make sure he’s putting his qualifications to good use.

Coming out of this process Sam has something he wants to share with other lawyers thinking of doing pro bono work with Safe Passage: “Don’t worry if, like me, you have no previous experience with immigration law. Safe Passage is there for you! The staff is patient and responsive; they’ll answer all your questions and do whatever it takes to make sure you feel prepared to advocate effectively for your client.”

Thank you Sam, for your hard work and dedication—we look forward to working more with you in the future!

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