A City Council program providing free legal aid to children who fled Central America and arrived in New York City illegally as unaccompanied minors has screened more than 1,600 immigrants, taken on nearly 650 cases and won 14 asylum petitions in the past year, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will announce at a news conference Monday.
Mark-Viverito will declare the $1.9 million initiative to provide legal representation and social services a success and call on other cities to follow suit in protecting unaccompanied minors from deportation.
The program was begun in September and paid for with city funds and private contributions. The council has allocated $1.5 million more for the program for the fiscal year that began July 1.
"New York City stepped up and resolved the unaccompanied minors representation crisis here," Mark-Viverito said in a statement. "Now it's time for others to follow. There is no excuse for failing these vulnerable children."
The initiative seeks to protect from deportation hundreds of unaccompanied minors who flee poverty and violence in Central American countries, cross the Mexican-U.S. border and end up in New York City. Tens of thousands of children and teenagers arrived in the United States as part of a surge in the past year, seeking to reunite with family members here.
The council's program, funded this past fiscal year in a partnership with the Robin Hood Foundation and the New York Community Trust, also trained about 5,000 lawyers and student volunteers.
As of June 30, the end of the last fiscal year, 40 of 159 petitions filed in family court were granted and 14 of 55 applications filed with the asylum office were granted through the initiative.