Riverdale welcomes Amigos for a 4th Field Day

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.”

Field Day 6.25.2016 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.”

Field Day 6.25.2016 2

Lenni Benson, Professor of Law and Executive Director of Safe Passage Project, testifies in front of New York City Council

L Benson at NYC City Council l 6.27.2016

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

High School Students Apply for Grant to Expand Safe Passage in Schools

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.



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Welcome to “Baby Jail”: Women Seeking Asylum in the United States

“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?”

Photo credit: Robin Taylon

Photo credit: Robin Taylon


Please click HERE for complete article by Michelle Castaneda

United States: The Other Refugee Crisis

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.

Photo credit: CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project

Photo credit: CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project


Please click HERE for complete article by Claire R. Thomas


Learning to Walk Behind Bars: The Treatment of Accompanied Children in Detention

The Treatment of Accompanied Children in Detention

Learning to walk behind bars

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.

Safe Passage Project responds to the U.S. v. Texas opinion



Professor Lenni Benson

[email protected]

(212) 431-2336 (Office)

(917) 596-3523 (Cell)

New York (Thursday, June 23, 2016)

(New York, NY) This morning, in a 4-4 split decision on U.S. v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court left in place the injunction blocking the deferred actions programs known as “DAPA” and “expanded DACA,” announced by President Obama in November of 2014.

These programs were announced as part of a complex set of policy initiatives that would provide work authorization and respite from deportation. Even if operational, these programs still fall far short of legal status in the United States, and fail to provide a path to legal permanent residency or U.S. citizenship.

Today’s one-sentence per curiam opinion, in real terms, means that millions of families across the United States will have to wait for the next action by the U.S. Federal District Court in Brownsville, Texas. The case may now continue to trial, which itself could take months to conclude.

Following the decision’s release, President Obama commented on the impact. “Today, the Supreme Court was unable to reach a decision… It means that the expanded set of Deferred Action policies, the ones that I announced two years ago, can’t go forward at this stage, until there is a ninth justice on the court to break the tie.” President Obama reiterated that this would not affect standing policies including the 2012 DACA program or the enforcement priorities in the context of removal.

We, at Safe Passage Project, continue to advocate and assist unaccompanied minors who are facing deportation. This decision has no effect on the ability of people to seek protection and asylum in the United States. Today’s decision, in large part, is due to lack of congressional leadership in this area. Now more than ever, we need thoughtful and well-designed immigration reform.


Safe Passage Project, a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit housed at New York Law School, was created to address the unmet legal needs of indigent immigrant youth living in New York by providing them with basic legal advice and immigration assistance. Safe Passage Project works with volunteer attorneys to provide free representation to children in immigration court. Safe Passage Project provides training, resources, and mentoring to volunteer attorneys on immigration law and procedure. To learn more, visit www.safepassageproject.org.

Safe Passage Project_Press Release 6.23.2016



Sam Newbold, Attorney of the Week



Following the changes announced by the Department of State on retrogression of the EB-4 visa category for applicants from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, immigration attorneys all over the country were suddenly faced with an array of unforeseen challenges. Emergency filings and deadlines were added to already overburdened calendars.

Samuel Newbold, a Senior Associate at Barst Mukamal & Kleiner LLP and Board Member of Safe Passage Project, successfully overcame this challenge. He shared his story with us.

Mr. Newbold’s client, C.J.*, a 19-year-old from Honduras, has been through a lengthy and complicated immigration process over the past two years. C.J.’s story is heartbreaking. He lost his father at the early age of 6. He endured abuse and violence at the hands of gangs in his home country, and at the age of 16 decided to seek a better life in the United States.

In 2014, Mr. Newbold helped C.J. apply for asylum. It was a difficult process for the youth, as he had to learn how to trust a team of attorneys and staff from Safe Passage Project and the law firm. C.J.’s ability to remain in the United States was jeopardized when his asylum claim was denied. Despite Mr. Newbold’s assurances that there were other options for him, C.J.’s hopes were crushed.

Since C.J. arrived in the United States he has spent many hours pursing his true passion, soccer. He began playing in early childhood and had never stopped. He aims to play soccer at the professional level someday.

When C.J. received the news about his asylum claim not being approved he lost interest in following this dream and he sought refuge with a group of friends who did not have a positive influence on him.

In the meantime, Mr. Newbold, continued to seek options to help C.J. After more than a year of working together, the relationship extended beyond mere legal representation. Mr. Newbold told C.J. “anything unfortunate that happens to an undocumented child, can jeopardize his entire life.” The two had a difficult and heartfelt conversation, at the end of which C.J. acknowledged he had given up hope. Listening to Mr. Newbold made C.J. realize he was not alone – the first defeat does not have to be final. C.J. developed a new appreciation for the enormous amount of work these professionals were putting into his case and his future.

After a reassessment of C.J.’s case, Mr. Newbold decided to seek Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. This set the beginning of a new series of challenges, bringing an experienced business immigration attorney into the family court. Mr. Newbold worked with C.J. and his family through a complicated process involving numerous submissions, new deadlines, multiple client meetings, and the most recent obstacle – the EB-4 visa category retrogression. A process generally completed within two months was finalized by Mr. Newbold in a short two weeks.

Coincidentally, Mr. Newbold had to file C.J.’s petition during a time when his law firm duties were consuming all of his working hours. He recalls it being an extremely challenging time, because when a pro bono case “becomes engulfing and bleeds” into an attorney’s practice, an ethical choice must be made where daily duties are measured against a person’s life. Mr. Newbold volunteered additional hours and resources, working to ensure the last step towards securing legal status for C.J. was executed properly.

Today, Mr. Newbold is proud to report C.J. was admitted to a great community college and after finishing high school this summer, he will continue his education in the fall. C.J. also rediscovered his passion for soccer and is currently planning to join a professional team. The story of C.J. and Mr. Newbold is a great example of the extraordinary impact Safe Passage pro bono attorneys have on the lives and futures of young clients.

*Name has been changed to protect the client’s privacy.

– Elena Scripnicov



Safe Passage 2016 Summer Intern Class

Safe Passage Project Welcomes the 2016 Summer Intern Class

Interns 2016 1

Molly Jacobs-Meyer – NYU Law School, Bethany Parry – Penn State Law School, Zoe Verni – Brown University, Joey Weiman – Vassar College, Jenna Spitzer – Princeton University, Gaby Papper – Bowdoin College, Alexa Kimmel – Tulane University, Marisa Brail – Riverdale Country School, Sarah Fassberg- Riverdale Country School, Ariana Nakhla- Riverdale Country School, Claudia Dardon – John Jay College, Maria Delgado- John Jay College, Pablo Perez- John Jay College, Michelle Sencion – John Jay College, Katherine Moreno – Lehman College

Interns 2016 2Orientation and Training with Director of Training, Claire Thomas.

Safe Passage urges Senator Schumer to Support Counsel for Immigrant Kids

39 New York-based organizations, including Safe Passage Project, signed a letter encouraging Senator Schumer to co-sponsor the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act of 2016 (S. 2540), which would provide appointed counsel for unaccompanied children and other vulnerable immigrants.

Access to the letter: Safe Passage urges Senator Schumer to Support Counsel for Immigrant Kids

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