In 2011, Deputy Executive Director, Gui Stampur founded Safe Passage in Schools to serve the unmet needs of immigrant children enrolled in New York City public schools. 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, as well other public schools throughout Manhattan and the Bronx. Safe Passage Project holds confidential screenings at the schools to determine which students need assistance and provides the children with free representation.
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 In Schools assisted over 40 children in family court, immigration court and before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). According to one High School Spanish teacher, “Safe Passage in Schools has been a lifeline for our students. They have made the dream of attending college a reality for many of my students.”
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 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 obtain it. According to one former client, “Mr. Stampur and Safe Passage helped me understand that I was eligible to become a Legal Permanent Resident and they made it happen. They taught me about the law, represented me, and changed my life forever.“
In 2014, the WHEELS school students applied for and won a $5,000 grant for Safe Passage Project. The students applied completely on their own – with the support of their Spanish teacher, Mr. David Lenzner. Read the full story here.
In 2016, The Wellmet Foundation made a generous contribution of $20,000 to Safe Passage in Schools, enabling the team to take on additional representation of immigrant children at WHEELS and in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. Since its founding, Safe Passage in Schools has served hundreds of immigrant children. We have represented children from the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Honduras, Guinea, Ghana, El Salvador, China, Guatemala, Haiti, Turkey, Mali, Ecuador, Mexico, and Somalia. In 2017, thanks to the generous support of The New World Foundation and the Brooklyn Community Foundation, Safe Passage expanded its work in schools to serve immigrant children from all 5 boroughs of New York City.
For more information about Safe Passage in Schools, please contact Safe Passage in Schools founder, Gui Stampur (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Safe Passage in Schools Supervising Attorney, Alex Rizio (email@example.com ).