Immigrant-ARC, NYLAG Respond to Problems Resettling Ukrainians: We must put money where our mouth is

NEW YORK, NY (04/07/2022) (readMedia)-- Last night, a report from The CITY detailed the confusion faced on-the-ground with resettling Ukrainians in New York as the Biden Administration has yet to release any plans. This is one more example of how the lack of details from Washington's various responses to the migration crisis have left communities with more questions than answers, and providers scrambling to get ready to help. Ukrainian, Afghan, Haitian, Cameroonian communities, to name but a few, have been held in suspense waiting to know how to receive the help they were promised by the Biden Administration last year. In response, Immigrant ARC (I-ARC) and the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) issued the following statement:

"New York has always billed itself as a proud beacon for immigrants and families seeking refuge, especially during the darkest days of the Trump Administration, but we need to put our money where our mouth is. I-ARC has polled its over 80 statewide members, all of whom are legal service providers, and the reality is that no one has capacity to meet the pressing needs of the latest crisis. If we want to live up to the Biden administration's welcome promise to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees and to return humanity and dignity to our immigration processes local governments must fully fund legal services – that means increasing the Immigrant Opportunity Initiative to $4 million from its current $2.6 million and ensuring the final State budget includes $24.4 million from the State. Otherwise, we're going to see more stories like this report from The CITY, despite the best intentions of our political leadership," said Camille Mackler, founder and Executive Director of I-ARC.

"NYLAG applauds the desire to provide protection and a legal status to vulnerable immigrants and people displaced by war, violence, and natural and man-made disaster; however, actions must support this rhetoric. Re-orientating our immigration system to welcome asylum-seekers and immigrants in crisis will take vision, critical changes in policy, and funding. We urge New York to view the need for legal assistance as broader than just the Ukrainian crisis and understand that resources are also necessary to assist Haitians, Afghans, Central Americans, Cameroonians, and others. An increase in the Immigrant Opportunity Initiative and support from the State budget will increase capacity for legal services such as NYLAG to address these needs and the future needs of vulnerable immigrants," said Jodi Ziesemer, the Director of the Immigrant Protection Unit at NYLAG.

About I-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.


The New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) uses the power of the law to help New Yorkers in need combat social and economic injustice. We address emerging and urgent legal needs with comprehensive, free civil legal services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, and community education. NYLAG staff of 350, including more than 225 attorneys, benefit nearly 90,000 people each year. NYLAG's Immigrant Protection Unit (IPU) was founded by former-Soviet refugees and still maintains strong ties to the community. IPU handles complex immigration cases in comprehensive areas. In addition to direct representation, we partner with libraries, community centers, and trusted organizations to deliver up-to-date information crucial to our clients' safety via Know Your Rights trainings, and offer clinics to address our clients' complex, urgent needs.