New York City: Don’t Exclude Certain Immigrants from Legal Services
A New York City limit on legal services for immigrants will do far more harm than the Mayor’s office claims and undercut the city’s larger push to bolster immigrant rights protections, Human Rights Watch said today.
The policy, referred to as the criminal carveout, excludes immigrants with certain criminal convictions from city-funded immigrant legal services. It has been added to city contracts with organizations that provide immigrant legal services. Organizations that rely exclusively on city-funding will need to turn away clients with disqualifying felony convictions. Providers say this will increase the amount of misinformation and fear in immigrant communities and create a chilling effect on the immigrant communities that access their services. Mayor Bill de Blasio should reverse the new policy.
“The so-called ‘criminal carveout’ will force attorneys to abandon clients they should be helping and create mistrust between immigrants and organizations that rely on city funding,” said Rebecca Chowdhury, senior legal coordinator at Human Rights Watch. “This policy seriously undermines the city’s own remarkable efforts to support local groups and ensure that low-income immigrants can fight to remain with their families and communities.”
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