State Budget Proposals Include Funding for Immigrant Legal Services, but Greater Investment is Needed to Protect Communities

CARE for Immigrant Families: Allocate $150 Million for Immigration Legal Services and Pass the Access to Representation Act to Protect New Yorkers in Urgent Need


Contact Gaia Filicori |

ALBANY NY (March 13, 2024) – Proposed one-house budgets, unveiled this week by the State Senate and Assembly, include additional funds for legal services for immigrants, but advocates say a larger investment is needed to protect people at risk for deportation and family separation.

The CARE for Immigrant Families coalition is calling on lawmakers to invest $150 million in the final budget—and to pass the Access to Representation Act (ARA)—to ensure immigration legal services for all New Yorkers, regardless of income.

The CARE for Immigrant Families coalition has issued the following statement:

“Across New York, countless immigrants face deportation, heartbreaking family separations, and unimaginable hardship—all without legal representation. Over the past year, we have seen the number of pending immigration cases in New York more than double. This is a dire situation. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s budget proposals include new funding for immigration legal services, but they don’t go far enough. Lawmakers must do more to protect the growing number of New Yorkers facing deportation and heartbreaking family separations, so they can continue to contribute to the vibrancy and strength of our state.”

“This urgent situation demands bold action. As negotiations progress, we call on the legislature and Governor Hochul to commit to a $150 million investment for legal services in the final budget along with passage of the Access to Representation Act. These measures will provide a lifeline to countless New Yorkers facing a perilous and uncertain future.”

“The reality is that legal service providers across New York State have attempted to fill the gap left by our state administration, making herculean efforts to come together to provide rapid response services to meet the needs of our newest neighbors and long-standing immigrant communities. These efforts are only the first step to addressing the current crisis of representation. We must fund long-term immigration legal infrastructure, which allows service providers to hire, educate, and retain experienced attorneys and ensure due process for our communities. This $150 million investment is not only crucial, but long overdue.”


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 CARE for Immigrant Families, a coalition of more than 100 leading organizations, religious groups, and elected officials united to pass the Access to Representation Act. The bill (S999A/A170A) will guarantee access to legal representation for immigrants at risk of deportation in New York. Sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal 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 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 mobilize New York State’s legal service providers by facilitating communication and information sharing to better support our immigrant communities; to organize and respond to issues as they arise by coordinating resources and fostering best practices among providers; and to resist and challenge anti-immigrant policies by shining a light on injustices and confronting inequalities faced by our communities in the legal system. For more information, visit

About 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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