On June 21st and 22nd, Alexandra Rizio, Senior Staff Attorney and Legal Interns, Bethany Parry and Molly Jacobs-Meyer, traveled out to Coney Island at the crack of dawn to give a Know Your Rights presentations to immigrant families. They gave a general overview of SIJS, T-Visas, U-Visas, DACA, Immediate Relative petitions, and ICE raids. A large number of the general questions from the attendees centered around what to do if an ICE raid were to occur. The presentation on June 21st was conducted in English and Spanish, and the presentation on the 22nd was conducted in English, Spanish, and Chinese. The team showed up with resources detailing what to do in the event of an ICE raid, as well as packets with names, numbers, and addresses of organizations providing pro or low-bono legal counsel to immigrants in NYC.
The Safe Passage Project (“SPP”) would like to thank Riverdale Country School “RCS” for raising $10,000 to support our work providing legal services to immigrant children. Each year SPP serves thousands of immigrant children living in New York. We provide legal representation to empower each child to pursue a safe, stable, and fulfilling future. We recruit, train, and mentor volunteer attorneys for unaccompanied minors in immigration court, as we believe no child should face deportation alone, all children are our children, each child is our future, and all children deserve a well-trained and committed advocate. With your help, we can continue to ensure that these children receive the legal representation they need and deserve. Safe Passage is grateful for the support of Riverdale Country School and the Middle School students who participated in the Dance-a-Thon and helped raise support for our work. Safe Passage is proud of the continued partnership and invites the Riverdale Community to participate in our 5th Field Day bringing together RCS students and Safe Passage clients. To view footage from one of these Field Days hosted by Riverdale Country School, please clink on one of the links below.
Since March of this year, Alexandra Rizio, Senior Staff Attorney, and Samantha Norris, resident Social Worker, have coached a team of Safe Passage Project and non-Safe Passage Project clients in the in an all-female soccer league for high school girls in the South Bronx. The league is organized by a community-based organization, South Bronx United. In their first year as a team, Las Cheetas Chulas (The Cool Cheetahs) finished second in the league overall.
While the coaches know many of the players through their cases at Safe Passage Project, Alex said they “purposefully don’t talk about anything related to the office during the practices or games.” Instead, she said that Las Cheetas Chulas provides the girls with an opportunity to “learn to play as a team and have a place to deal with some of the difficult issues that they are facing.”
As the girls met every Saturday, rain or shine, during the season, Sam also said that participating in the league enabled the participants to “learn that you have responsibilities to yourself and to your team no matter how you’re feeling or what the weathers like. No matter how you’re feeling, you have to go.”
Furthermore, the all-girls team was forced to assert itself against the male teams, which, according to Alex, would “encroach on field time for the girls” and even start “heckling the girls.” As Sam said, “It’s a powerful thing to give kids a safe space to play, especially young women who have traditionally been marginalized and oppressed.” Alex and Sam hope to continue their work with Las Cheetas Chulas in 2017.
On Saturday, June 25th, forty members of the Safe Passage Project community gathered at Riverdale Country School for their fourth Field Day event.
According to Gui Stampur, Safe Passage Project’s Director of Legal Services, “Field Day is an opportunity for our clients to temporarily put aside the complications of their immigration case and run around a beautiful high school campus, participate in soccer games, dance class, and arts and crafts, and to make new friends over pizza and ice cream.”
One highlight of the day was celebrating the fourth birthday of one of the attendees, whose family also participated in the event. Another came in the highly competitive soccer game, in which parents and kids were able to play together. The game ended with a score of 5-4.
Although Juan Carlos, a Justice AmeriCorps Legal Fellow at Safe Passage Project, expressed some regret at his team’s loss in the soccer game, he noted that the day was a “resounding success because it let the kids enjoy being kids.”
Lenni Benson, Professor of Law and Executive Director of Safe Passage Project, testifies in front of New York City Council
On June 27, 2016, Lenni Benson, professor of law at New York Law School and Executive Director of the Safe Passage Project, testified in front of the New York City Council in support of two pending resolutions: Resolution 1105, seeking to support the admission of Syrian refugees, and Resolution 1097, seeking Congressional improvements to the “U Visa Status.”
Please click HERE for complete Press Release
Please click HERE for the Testimony on Resolutions for greater admissions of refugees
Alexa, Diana, Joeli and Gabriel present to secure funds to expand Safe Passage in Schools. These students presented the work of Safe Passage at their school to potential funders in hopes of raising financial support for Safe Passage to facilitate their work throughout New York City on behalf of undocumented students. The presentation featured interviews from former Safe Passage clients New York City teachers. Legal Director, Guillermo Stampur, attended the presentation. Safe Passage is very proud of the students.
“Am I in prison?” This question was posed to me by a woman incarcerated at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, also known as “Baby Jail.” “When I heard we were going to a family residential center,” she said, “I thought maybe this was a place where they help families. But it is a prison, isn’t it?”
Please click HERE for complete article by Michelle Castaneda
Every day, there are stories in the news of people fleeing war, violence, famine, persecution, and other horrors in their home countries to find safety and basic dignity in distant foreign lands. But absent from the current media are the accounts of the “other refugee crisis,” one that is happening much closer to the United States.
Please click HERE for complete article by Claire R. Thomas
The Treatment of Accompanied Children in Detention
South Texas Family Residential Center, Dilley, Texas. Photo courtesy Claire R. Thomas
Over the past 30 years, immigration detention in the United States has expanded significantly. In 1994, there were less than 7,000 individuals detained every day in immigration detention facilities, by 2012, over 34,000 persons were detained on a daily basis.
Please click HERE for complete article.