One Step Closer To Citizenship
By: Heidi Kim, Assistant Director, Pro Bono Programs
Last fall, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest’s Pro Bono Clearinghouse entered into an exciting new partnership with Catholic Migration Services. As with many successful past projects, this partnership sought to leverage the resources of volunteer attorneys to expand the reach and services of Catholic Migration Services, a local nonprofit that provides comprehensive legal, advocacy, educational and pastoral services to advance equality and social justice in a changing and diverse population throughout Brooklyn and Queens.
With Catholic Migration Services as its community partner, NYLPI designed and coordinated two naturalization clinics to assist individuals who are Lawful Permanent Residents in applying for citizenship. Recognizing the important role of volunteer attorneys, NYLPI called on two of its long-standing member firms, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, to meet the needs of Catholic Migration Services’ clients. The organization trained volunteer attorneys who eagerly joined in on the opportunity to assist this underserved population. Together, about 18 attorneys staffed two full-day clinics in Brooklyn, and were able to serve more than 80 clients from over 20 countries. These attorneys also assisted clients in applying for fee waivers, resulting in $17,000 worth of savings for eligible participants.
This exemplary partnership represents one of the best ways nonprofits and private firms can partner together to maximize their impact. In a true demonstration of their dedication to pro bono, Cleary and Fried Frank have made an ongoing commitment to staff quarterly clinics through 2016. The assistance that clients receive from volunteer attorneys continues to have a tremendous impact on their lives, providing assurance and confidence on their path toward citizenship.
Empowered for Fuller, Healthier Lives
Two years ago, NYLPI’s Health Justice lawyers met a Mexican national in his 30s with kidney failure who had been on dialysis for 10 years. The Health Justice team completed a comprehensive health and immigration screening and determined that he was eligible to apply for an immigration benefit through his sister that would qualify him for Medicaid. With Medicaid, he could obtain coverage for a life-saving kidney transplant. NYLPI provided him with immigration assistance and in the spring of 2015, he received a kidney transplant.
Following this experience, NYLPI developed UndocuCare, a project connecting immigrant New Yorkers with serious health conditions to state-funded Medicaid that can provide life-changing and often life-saving treatment. In 2015, NYLPI conducted comprehensive immigration and health screenings for nearly 200 undocumented individuals with serious health conditions. NYLPI also provided immigration representation, connection to Medicaid, wraparound advocacy services with health care providers and organ transplant centers, housing assistance and systemic advocacy at the city and state level.
As a result of this work, NYLPI is proud to be part of the City Council’s new $1.5 million Immigrant Health Initiative. The City Council granted NYLPI, along with several community health center partners, $500,000 to expand services. Additionally, NYLPI has formed a partnership with DLA Piper US LLP to prepare humanitarian deferred action applications for seriously ill individuals with no other immigration recourse. This work by attorneys at DLA Piper will lead to access to state-funded Medicaid, and healthier lives.
Through targeted outreach, raising public awareness and educating health care providers, community based organizations and legal services providers, NYLPI is getting the word out about immigrant access to Medicaid in New York and is helping people safely come out of the shadows to live fuller lives – the true meaning of Health Justice.
23rd Annual Law & Society Luncheon