Mamaroneck’s Community Resource Center is adding a full-time attorney to deal with immigrant emergencies, thanks to new funding from New York State. State Senator Shelley Mayer presented the giant symbolic check on Thursday morning.
The money will be used to beef-up the center’s network of local lawyers assisting undocumented immigrants in what has become a challenging and increasing oppressive political climate.
The money will be will be paired with additional donations of $55,000 from anonymous supporters to hire the attorney to go to hearings, interviews, provide advice and provide legal guidance to clients. The Community Resource Center, located in Mamaroneck, serves immigrants and low-income families with social services, educational programs and the job placement.
CRC Executive Director Jirandy Martinez, says the demand for legal services has grown dramatically in the past two years. She says the new staff attorney will assist clients with naturalizations, family petitions, DACA renewals, green card renewals, new visas and special immigrant juvenile status cases.
“We know that anybody fares better with legal representation and that is especially true for immigrants at this time.,” Martinez said. “What this funding will do is secure competent and and culturally competent legal services for our community in a really difficult and challenging time.”
Janet Fry, CRC Deputy Executive Director, added that “courthouse representation is also critical especially when we know that there have been ICE representatives at courthouses and what we are seeing is the separations of families right now.”
“No matter how specific the circumstance is, legal representation is paramount for the immigrant members of our community to achieve more stable, more secure better lives in the US.”
The vast majority of the CRC’s clients are low income individuals and families who cannot afford to hire legal help. Such was the case for Edgar Garza, who arrived from El Salvador 26 years ago. “I lived in the shadows with fear that immigration could deport me and my family would lose financial support.” After finally obtaining legal residence he sought to become a US citizen but could not afford the $1500 fee charged by many attorneys. The Community Resource Center did it for free and guided him through the citizenship application process.
“This is our community,” Senator Mayer told the group. “These are our neighbors.”