Lenni on NPR’s All Things Considered


Safe Passage Project’s Lenni Benson appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered on Thursday, July 28, 2016. Professor Benson spoke with NPR’s Richard Gonzalez back in May 2016 about the Central American crisis and the EB4 backlog; the news organization aired the segment, and published a lengthy accompanying article, yesterday.

Entitled “Halt On Juvenile Immigrant Visa Leaves Thousands In Limbo,” NPR’s segment is one of the few examples of national press coverage on this critical issue. Seeking protection through Special Immigrant Juvenile status is a complex process thatunaccompanied children have to navigate, with or without counsel. The visa backlog has only made the process even more unpredictable, for children and advocates alike.

Since the announcement of the EB4 backlog in April 2016, Professor Benson has been a forceful advocate, tirelessly pushing on the local level for a sensible approach to adjudicating these young people’s claims, and on the national level for interim relief, protections, and deferred action.

LenniBenson“They don’t come to the border and say, ‘I want to apply for an I-360 based on the Fourth Preference Employment-based Special Immigrant Juvenile 101A-27J,’ ” Benson says. “They say, ‘I can’t go home!’ “

Ever articulate and thoughtful, Professor Benson seized the opportunity to shine light on the reality that so many refugee children face. Safe Passage Project is proud.


Check out Las Cheetas Chulas on HuffPo

Safe Passage Project’s own Las Cheetas Chulas, a girls soccer squad out of the South Bronx United, are featured in a segment with the Huffington Post.

cheetas chulas

Getting outside of the courtroom, coaches/staff members Alex Rizio and Samantha Norris were interviewed along with players/clients about their dedication to the game and what it means to them.

Las Cheetas were joined by HuffPo on the last day of their inaugural season, in which they placed 2nd overall in the league. Ms. Rizio confirms that they are looking forward to reconvening Las Cheetas next year!

We couldn’t be more proud! Check them out here.

Equal Justice Works Fellow, Lauren Blodgett To Join Safe Passage Team


Safe Passage is thrilled to announce that Lauren Blodgett (Harvard Law School Class of 2016) will be joining the Safe Passage Project Legal team this September. Lauren will provide direct representation, legal advice, and community outreach to unaccompanied minors in New York, with a focus on child victims of sexual abuse and gender-based violence. Safe Passage Project is grateful to Lauren’s sponsors, Bank of New York Mellon Corporation and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and to Equal Justice Works.
According to Legal Director Gui Stampur, “Lauren will be an incredible addition to our team and we are excited for her to hit the ground running.”
To read more about Ms. Blodgett please visit the website below:

Safe Passage holds Know Your Rights Presentation in Coney Island


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.

Thank You Riverdale Country School

Gui Stampur, RCS Class of 2000 and Safe Passage Director of Legal Services, with Joey Weinman, RCS Class of 2014 and Safe Passage Summer Intern.

Gui Stampur, RCS Class of 2000 and Safe Passage Director of Legal Services, with Joey Weinman, RCS Class of 2014 and Safe Passage Summer Intern.


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.




spp team



Las Cheetas Chulas wrap up a successful inaugural season

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.

Las Cheetas Chulas 6.18.2016

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.

Las Cheetas Chulas 6.18.2016 2

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.



3 4

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

Translate »