Advocates & Allies Hail Historic Immigrant Legal Services Funding in Legislative Budgets, but More Action Needed to Keep Families Together & Strengthen Workforce

CARE for Immigrant Families Calls for Passage of Access to Representation Act and Increased Funding to Ensure Fairness in Immigration System at Time of Unprecedented Need

ALBANY, NY – The New York State Senate and Assembly today submitted their respective one-house budget resolutions, which include important provisions to fund immigration services, for the fiscal year that starts April 1, 2023. However, passage of the Access to Representation Act (ARA) and greater investment in legal services are necessary to meet the needs of New York’s communities, according to the Campaign for Access, Representation, and Equity (CARE) for Immigrant Families coalition:

“Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s one-house budget proposals include historic investments of $77 million to fund immigration legal services. That’s a major breakthrough, but lawmakers must take another step to ensure the long-term stability of thousands of immigrants facing heartbreaking, life-or-death challenges in the legal system right now. In addition to fully funding immigration services this year, the Legislature must also pass the Access to Representation Act, which will cement in state law the right to legal representation in these complicated cases.

“Legal representation should not be a luxury for the well-connected. Every single data point shows that people facing deportation are far more likely to remain with their loved ones if they have a lawyer on their side. New York communities and economies are stronger when our families and workforce remain stable and thriving. Governor Hochul and legislative leaders must recognize this, and stand up for all New Yorkers regardless of wealth or legal status.

“As the three-way budget negotiations commence, we urge the legislature and Governor Hochul to build upon the Senate and Assembly proposals by delivering on their commitment of $120 million for legal services, passage of the Access to Representation Act, and other essential services in the final budget.”


About the Campaign for Access, Representation, and Equity (CARE) for Immigrant Families: The Vera Institute of Justice, the New York Immigration Coalition, and Immigrant-ARC lead the CARE for Immigrant Families, a coalition of over 100 leading organizations, religious groups, and elected officials united to pass the Access to Representation Act. The bill (S00999/A00170) will guarantee access to legal representation for immigrants at risk of deportation in New York. Sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, the legislation would be the first in the nation to create a statewide right to legal representation for people facing deportation who cannot afford it, whether they have recently arrived in the state or have been New Yorkers for decades.

About the Vera Institute of Justice: The Vera Institute of Justice is powered by hundreds of advocates, researchers, and policy experts working to transform the criminal legal and immigration systems until they’re fair for all. Founded in 1961 to advocate for alternatives to money bail in New York City, Vera is now a national organization that partners with impacted communities and government leaders for change. We develop just, antiracist solutions so that money doesn’t determine freedom; fewer people are in jails, prisons, and immigration detention; and everyone is treated with dignity. Vera’s headquarters is in Brooklyn, New York, with offices in Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. For more information, visit

About Immigrant ARC: Immigrant ARC (I-ARC) is a collaborative of over 80 organizations and professional associations providing legal services to New York’s immigrant communities throughout the State. Born out of the legal effort at JFK Airport during the Muslim Travel Ban in 2017, our mission is clear: to increase access to counsel and access to justice for all immigrant New Yorkers. For more information, visit

About the New York Immigration Coalition: The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) is an umbrella policy & advocacy organization that represents over 200 immigrant and refugee rights groups throughout New York. The NYIC serves one of the largest and most diverse newcomer populations in the United States. The multi-racial and multi-sector NYIC membership base includes grassroots and nonprofit community organizations, religious and academic institutions, labor unions, as well as legal and socioeconomic justice organizations. The NYIC not only establishes a forum for immigrant groups to voice their concerns, but also provides a platform for collective action to drive positive social change. Since its founding in 1987, the NYIC has evolved into a powerful voice of advocacy by spearheading innovative policies, promoting and protecting the rights of immigrant communities, improving newcomer access to services, developing leadership and capacity, expanding civic participation, and mobilizing member groups to respond to the fluctuating needs of immigrant communities.

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