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Migrant children still in NYC to get free legal assistance

The city has announced $4.1 million in funding for social services, legal screening and more.

Activists rally against the Trump administration's child separation

Activists rally against the Trump administration's child separation policy in front of Trump Tower in Manhattan on July 25. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Drew Angerer

The city has set aside $4.1 million to provide additional legal assistance for migrant children, both unaccompanied kids and separated children in New York City, the mayor’s office said.

The announcement comes after a group of volunteer attorneys recruited from several city agencies returned from spending a week assisting detained immigrant families near the southern border.

Mayor Bill de Blasio reiterated his concern about Trump administration policies toward immigrant families seeking refuge in America.

“Those are not New York City’s values,” said de Blasio. “Mothers and fathers need to be able to hug and console their children and we are doing everything we can to help provide free high-quality legal services.”

The legal needs include separated children placed in federal facilities under the Office of Refugee Resettlement in New York City, their families and loved ones seeking to become sponsors, and hundreds of unaccompanied minors settled here who are in need of legal representation.

The funding will provide access to legal risk assessments and screening for those seeking to be sponsors for migrant children. Funding will be increased for social and case management resources to address the needs of the migrant children.

“The city made a tremendous investment to create a system for providing legal services that can mobilize quickly to address the emergent legal needs of immigrant New Yorkers,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “Today we are using this system to shield immigrants against the draconian policies the federal government is implementing.”

The legal service providers include Catholic Charities, Catholic Migration Services, Central American Legal Assistance, Immigrant Justice Corps, Kids in Need of Defense, Legal Services NYC, New York Legal Assistance Group, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, Safe Passage Project, Sanctuary for Families, The Door, The Legal Aid Society, Urban Justice Center, Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services, and Make the Road New York.

Bitta Mostofi, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, said that “several separated children who were brought to our city have been reunited with their families at the border, but they continue to languish in detention. With (the) legal services announcement, even more migrant children who arrive in our city will receive critical representation and services to help fight for their safety.”

The mayor’s office estimates that about 40 children of more than 300 that were sent to the city are still here, with about 400 still housed around the United States.

The parents of children who remain in the city could possibly have been deported, according to the mayor.

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