Since May 2012, Safe Passage Project has worked closely with teachers, social workers, coaches, principals, and college advisors at Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School, or “WHEELS”, a public high school in Washington Heights, in an effort to serve the unmet needs of its undocumented students. Safe Passage Project holds confidential screenings at the school to determine which students need assistance. Safe Passage then matches students who need immigration advice with pro bono counsel who represent the students.
Safe Passage also conducts “Know Your Rights” presentations and hosts Citizenship clinics for students who may not adequately understand their rights. In 2014, Safe Passage assisted over 40 children in family court, immigration court and before United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
For WHEELS students, legal status in this country means access to Federal Financial aid for college, healthcare, a driver’s license, the ability to work, and most important, the opportunity to achieve dreams. Because many children in the New York City public schools do not have the documentation they need to live and work in the United States they are cast aside and treated like second class citizens. Safe Passage has found that many undocumented youth enrolled in New York public schools have claims for legal relief under United States Immigration law, but lack the knowledge, resources, and representation to help them obtain it.
In 2014, the WHEELS school applied for and won a $5,000 grant for Safe Passage Project. See the details here.