The Cuomo administration is expanding state services such as legal representation and community-based assistance for immigrants across New York including the Greater Rochester area.
Two funding measures implemented by the Governor is The Liberty Defense project and Rapid Response Program that’ll deliver urgent legal services to immigrants. The Legal Aid Society of Rochester will head that project by adding two more immigration attorneys.
“It’s a recognition that there is a great need for services to immigrants western NY, central new york and actually across the entire state,” said Carla Palumbo President & CEO of The Legal Aid Society. “It’s cases and training so that folks can understand what rights they have and what steps they need to take to protect those rights.”
According to Legal Aid, there’s been a tremendous spike in immigrant cases in the greater Rochester area. At times each lawyer has to juggle 50 cases or more. A big reason why there are so many is that individuals who weren’t a priority for immigration enforcement in the past have now gone out the window under the current White House administration, which includes non-citizens who have a criminal record and those who without.
“In our area, we’ve seen an increase in removal proceedings and with this funding we’ll be able to provide representation to protect the due process rights they have in removal,” said Hannah Vickner Hough, Immigration Program Director at Legal Aid.
The other program creates 21 new centers that will provide legal consultation, education, workshops, and other services to immigrants in their own neighborhoods. The Catholic Family Center in Monroe County will benefit from this measure.
“Any services we can provide is the gap we want to fill,” said Hough.