Vera Institute of Justice and NYIC on Passage of the New York State Budget

New York, NY – On Saturday April 9, the New York State legislature passed the state’s annual budget for the fiscal year that starts April 1, 2022, which includes important and historic provisions to increase funding for immigration services.

The Vera Institute of Justice and New York Immigration Coalition issued the following statements in response:

Annie Chen, SAFE Initiative Director, Vera Institute of Justice:

“We commend New York State for increasing its immigration funding in this year’s fiscal budget to $20 million. As the first increase in such funding since 2017, this is a significant investment that will save lives and keep families together. However, the acute need for immigration legal services has only increased during the coronavirus pandemic. More than 200,000 people have been newly detained during the health crisis, while court backlogs in the state have ballooned from 47,000 cases in 2012 to 170,000 today. People who are represented by a lawyer in immigration court are 3.5 times more likely to secure release from detention and 10 times more likely to win their right to remain in the United States. With so many New Yorkers still needing this life-saving legal assistance, this funding is a significant investment that must be followed swiftly by additional steps toward systemic reform, including passing the Access to Representation Act so every New Yorker has a chance to fight their case fairly in court and freely with the support of their communities and families.”

Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition:

“Every person deserves a fair day in court. Today, Albany made significant strides in keeping New York families together by increasing its investment in legal services funding. Yet, the budget fell short of providing the full funding needed to address the acute crisis caused by the pandemic and four years of a hostile federal administration. Without full funding, far too many of our community members will face dangerous detention conditions and our byzantine immigration court system without the legal services they need to keep our families and communities stable and strong. New York State still has time to remedy this situation and ensure due process by increasing the funding for immigration legal services to $24.4 million. Moreover, Albany can and must take action to immediately pass the Access to Representation Act to ensure that every New Yorker has access to immigration legal services and a fighting chance in our immigration courts. It's the right thing to do to ensure equity in our judicial system.”


About the Vera Institute of Justice

The Vera Institute of Justice is powered by hundreds of advocates, researchers, and activists 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 the New York Immigration Coalition

The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for more than 200 groups in New York State. We envision a New York state that is stronger because all people are welcome, treated fairly, and given the chance to pursue their dreams. Our mission is to unite immigrants, members, & allies so all New Yorkers can thrive. We represent the collective interests of New York's diverse immigrant communities and organizations and devise solutions to advance them; advocate for laws, policies, and programs that lead to justice and opportunity for all immigrant groups; and build the power of immigrants and the organizations that serve them to ensure their sustainability, to improve people's lives, and to strengthen our state.

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