Immigration Project

TO THE IMMIGRANT COMMUNITY: We are with you!

The Immigration Project is working relentlessly to reach out to our clients, partners and volunteers to provide information about immigrant rights. The President-elect pledged to repeal DACA and deport undocumented immigrants. Neither we nor our law firm partners and the majority of american voters are OK with this, and we are ready to fight it.  We are a country that follows the rule of law. Everyone has the right to due process and we are ready to fight with you to make sure that that principle is respected and followed.  The most important thing is to KNOW YOUR RIGHTS, stand up for your rights and be united to protect those rights! Right now, we are:

  • Preparing KNOW-YOUR-RIGHTS flyers/info sessions and other outreach material
  • Training pro bono lawyers to represent immigrant youth
  • Contacting public schools to help school staff support immigrant students and give information about their rights
  • Partnering with other organizations to ensure services to low income immigrant families are available in every borough

 

The Immigration Project Team wants you to know that we are with you and that we are committed to the mission of guaranteeing that more young people have access to justice. 

 

 

Our Mission 

The mission of the Immigration Project is to resolve immigration issues for New York City public high school students so that they can work, attend college and have an opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

I always said lawyers are awesome at what they do, their job isn’t easy but when you are working with one it feels like the client and the lawyers are an unstoppable force. Gustavo, 19, Immigration Project's client

What we do:

  • Identify high school students who need legal assistance to obtain, or retain, lawful immigration status

  • Recruit, train, and mentor pro bono lawyers to provide legal services to students with viable immigration relief

  • Provide "know your rights" information to students currently unable to regularize their immigration status

VOLS recruits, trains, and mentors pro bono lawyers to help these youth overcome their immigration issues and give them a chance to succeed.

Who we serve:

We develop trust within each school’s community of students, parents, teachers, and administrators by visiting schools and attending parent nights and other functions. With the support of each school’s families and staff, we hope to find remedies to students’ immigration problems early on, before they leave school with no way to attend college or find decent jobs.

They worked with me through everything and nothing felt out of place. And […] this was all done pro bono. […] Now that I have gained my residency, I am overwhelmed by the possibilities. I know what a proper paycheck looks like, my mother can rest easy knowing that my college fees are paid for, and for the first time I have actually cried over my choices, and not my losses. Teonia, 22, Immigration Project's client 

How we work:

Currently, 19 public high schools participate in the project. When we partner with a school, we start by training the staff so they understand the unique challenges immigrant youth face and how they can support their students by connecting them to us. Then we meet each student privately to assess their options and plan a course of action together. When appropriate, we connect students to pro bono lawyers that we train and mentor.

We also go to the schools to hold legal clinics and provide workshops for parents and students, and produce bilingual "know your rights" materials on practical topics. Sharing vital information about immigrant rights protects people from fraud and alleviates fear in our communities.

Collaborating with Law Firms

Our volunteer lawyers are vital to the Project's success.

The Impact:

Providing meaningful pro bono opportunities for lawyers who practice in different areas of law creates more allies to help guarantee fair access to justice for all. Promoting immigration law to major law firm’s pro bono departments has been critical to enhancing access to ethical and free legal assistance for those who cannot afford it and desperately are seeking advice. Thousands of people that otherwise might be victims of fraud have been helped by this project and the lawyers that have donated their time.

I attended the VOLS Pro Bono Guardianship Clinic, where Molly Coe provided me and my colleagues with a comprehensive introduction to the stages of a legal guardianship proceeding and introduced us to an excellent group of children and young adults seeking to begin this process. Her expertise and the VOLS’ staff’s extensive legwork seamlessly facilitated a meaningful pro bono opportunity – I look forward to continuing to represent the young man I met at the clinic. – Pro Bono Volunteer

Our Challenges

Like many of our friends, colleagues and partners in the non-profit sector we struggle to find funding sources for our project. Our distinctive approach to legal services for young immigrants requires expert knowledge to effectively mentor pro bono lawyers and develop creative strategies, because we also take on representation of challenging cases that may not be suited for pro bono. We have invested in quality staff members and want to retain the investment we have made in their professional development.

New Collaborations

To help us amplify our message so that more students will look for legal assistance, and find it, we are very excited to be working with Hugo Arturi – photographer and director – and MILK STUDIOS on a video project.

What's in the works?

Hugo has been meeting with four young men and women to talk about growing up in New York City. Each one has a relationship to VOLS and we will learn through these conversations more about their experiences and their lives.

At the same time, this video will help us show potential donors, funders, friends, and volunteers the impact that the Dream Not Deferred Initiative has had in the past five years.

What can you do?

For more information about how to volunteer or become a school partner, please contact: Elizabeta Markuci, VOLS Immigration Project Director at emarkuci@volsprobono.org or 347.521.5707.

Also, your tax-deductible donations will directly support a young person’s access to justice…then the opportunities are endless.



If you need legal assistance, please call the Immigration Project hotline at 347.521.5722.