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.

Gui Stampur, Director of Legal Services, featured in the Atlantic

In an article published on August 20, 2016, “Across the Border and Into School,” the Atlantic recent coverage continues a recent trend of media attention on the lives of unaccompanied minors. In particular, the Atlantic focuses on unaccompanied Central American minors present in the United States and their challenges in getting in enrolled consistently in school.


Gui Stampur, Director of Legal Services at Safe Passage Project, was interviewed as part of the article. “These are challenges that, unchecked, obviously impact how kids do in school—and whether they go to school at all. “I think our goal at Safe Passage is to enable kids to be kids and to focus on school, to focus on their education,” Stampur said. While most schools in the city, he said, have been good about accepting students, occasionally he has to lean on schools upstate and on Long Island to enroll the undocumented children who live there.”


Read the article in its entirety on The Atlantic, or here.

Safe Passage Project Names Rich Leimsider as New Executive Director

Press Release

Safe Passage Project Names Rich Leimsider as New Executive DirectorLeimsider.Headshot

Safe Passage Project, a not-for-profit created to address the unmet legal needs of indigent immigrant youth living in New York, announced today that Rich Leimsider, a leader in the social sector, joined the organization as Executive Director effective August 8th, 2016.

Founded by New York Law School Professor Lenni Benson in 2006, Safe Passage Project assists unaccompanied minors in immigration proceedings by providing them with basic legal advice and assistance. In response to the extraordinary number of unaccompanied children seeking protection within the United States and the over 15,000 cases in the New York Immigration Court, in 2013 Safe Passage expanded beyond a law school clinic to become an independent nonprofit organization hosted by New York Law School.  Today, Safe Passage serves 550+ clients with nine staff attorneys and 400+ active pro bono attorneys.  Professor Benson will continue to play a major role with the organization as both a Board Director and in a new role as Senior Advisor to Safe Passage Project on issues of Policy and Law.

Rich Leimsider is a proven social sector leader, having spent the last 15 years building systems, managing teams, and raising money at the intersection of innovation and social impact. As an independent consultant to nonprofits and foundations, he advised on strategy, board governance, and fundraising with a focus on youth-serving and criminal justice organizations. As Vice President of Fellowship Programs at Echoing Green he helped to significantly increase the scale of the flagship programs from 15 to 50 fellowships per year, led on $15MM in philanthropic funding, and launched new programs on climate change, education reform, and black male achievement.

Pam Foster, Safe Passage Project Board Chair and Managing Director at the Rockefeller Foundation, said “I am delighted to announce that Rich Leimsider has accepted our offer to become Safe Passage Project’s next Executive Director. Rich brings considerable leadership, management, strategy and fundraising skills, and a growing passion for the mission. Rich will be a wonderful new leader for Safe Passage Project and a great colleague to the Board and to the staff.”

Professor Benson noted “I am so pleased that Rich is joining our outstanding staff in building Safe Passage Project. His expertise in working with start-up nonprofits and social justice enterprise organizations will be of tremendous value as we continue to grow and work to serve immigrant children. I look forward to working with Rich and will continue to be engaged.”

“The work of Safe Passage Project to defend immigrant children at risk is more important today than ever before,” said Mr. Leimsider.  “I’m honored to have the opportunity to work alongside such incredible people and to have the chance to contribute to this mission.  I’m grateful to Lenni for building this organization, and for the fact that Lenni and the law school students will continue to be part of our service and research mission.

About Safe Passage Project

Safe Passage Project is a not-for-profit corporation created to address the unmet legal needs of indigent immigrant youth living in New York.  Safe Passage Project is currently assisting over 550 youth in removal (deportation) proceedings in the New York area. Safe Passage Project is housed within, and receives significant support from, New York Law School.  Other key support comes from the Robin Hood Foundation, the City of New York, Justice AmeriCorps, the Zegar Family Foundation, the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, the Lambert Family Fund,  the Keith Haring Foundation, Jadeja and Cimone, and the Practising Law Institute. 

For more information about Safe Passage Project, call 212-324-6558, or visit www.safepassageproject.org


Megan Eiss-Proctor, Associate Director, Operations and Development [email protected] (917) 257-1058

Gui Stampur, Director of Legal Services, in NY Times

Director of Legal Services, Gui Stampur, quoted in today’s NY Times article by Liz Robbins entitled, “A Paradoxical Position on Youths Fleeing Violence”

To read Mr. Stampur’s statement and the entire article, please click the link below:






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.


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

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.

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