Vera Institute’s SAFE Initiative Statement on NY Governor Kathy Hochul’s State of the State

On Wednesday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul delivered the State of the State, in which she outlined her administration’s priorities for 2022.

The Vera Institute’s SAFE Initiative Director Annie Chen issued the following statement in response:

“Governor Hochul has outlined a bold vision that aims to protect all New Yorkers. We strongly commend her pledge to increase critical funding for immigrant legal services, fortifying New York’s commitment to respect for immigrant New Yorkers and safeguarding their right to family unity. Immigrant New Yorkers have been performing essential work for almost two years during the pandemic. Despite putting their own lives and families at risk, they continue to face detention and deportation by federal immigration authorities. Governor Hochul's commitment to increase funding for programs that support safety and freedom for our immigrant neighbors, including the pioneering New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), shows her understanding of this issue, and we commend her for it.

The governor’s funding commitments are a welcome, critical first step. Still, there are additional concrete legislative actions the governor and the New York State Legislature can take this year—most importantly, passing the Access to Representation Act, New York For All Act, and the Dignity Not Detention Act. Together, these acts can solidify the state’s commitment to stand with immigrant New Yorkers. These three bills would disrupt the criminal-to-immigration system pipeline, prevent law enforcement from funneling people into ICE custody, and provide necessary legal representation.

The Access to Representation Act would establish a right to a public defender for people at risk of deportation. Coupled with increased funding for immigration services—Vera recommends an increase of $24.4 million—New York could strengthen the stability and health of every community. The New York For All Act would stop local law enforcement from working with ICE, and the Dignity Not Detention Act would get New York out of the immigration detention business, ending the inhumane and unnecessary incarceration of immigrants in New York jails.

We urge Governor Hochul and the New York State Legislature to pass these reforms and are ready to work with them. Confronting the unjust criminalization of immigrants head-on would protect the safety, health, and freedom of every New Yorker.”

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

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