In a Time of Great Need, NYLAG’s Immigration Protection Unit Shows True Leadership

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Over the summer, the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) entered into two extraordinary agreements to provide legal assistance to low-income immigrants. Through new agreements with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and the New York Association for New Americans (NYANA), NYLAG’s Immigrant Protection Unit (IPU) has committed to take on the cases of thousands of New York immigrants.

HIAS, the international migration agency of the American Jewish community, announced in July that it was closing its legal services division and shifting all local immigration services to NYLAG where individuals can receive free and direct legal services. HIAS will continue to provide services to those seeking asylum, a status awarded to individuals who already have entered the U.S. and fear persecution if sent back to their home countries.

Yisroel Schulman, President & Attorney-in-Charge of NYLAG, said: “Our new partnership with HIAS will strengthen both of our organizations to better fulfill our missions to provide high quality legal services to New York’s immigration population.”

NYANA, a non-profit that provided multi-layered relocation assistance, including legal services to recent immigrants in New York City, was forced to close its doors this month due to financial reasons. NYLAG has agreed to handle up to 4500 immigration cases transferred from NYANA.

NYANA was founded in 1949 in the aftermath of World War II to assist refugees to come to the United States. Over the years NYANA provided resettlement assistance to hundreds of thousands of refugees from countless countries including the former Soviet Union, Cuba, Hungary, Romania, Tibet, Czechoslovakia, Iran, Syria, Uganda and China.

NYANA established its legal services program in 1991, offering a full array of immigration related legal assistance such as representing immigrants in citizenship, residency, work authorization, family reunification and asylum proceedings. Mr. Schulman said, “NYANA has been an invaluable resource for New Americans over the last many years and NYLAG will strive to continue to provide their clients with crucial, high-quality legal services.”

Irina Matiychenko, Director of NYLAG’s IPU, stated, “We are anxious to use our expertise to help those in need, and will continue to ensure that current and reliable information on changing immigration law is widely distributed to the client population and those professionals that serve them.” In 2007, NYLAG provided legal assistance to over 10,400 immigrants on such matters as completing citizenship and legal permanent residency applications and advocating for public benefits (such as food stamps, Medicaid, SSI, and home care) to secure basic life-sustaining needs and a decent standard of living.

For further information about NYLAG’s Immigration Protection Unit, contact Irina Matiychenko at [email protected]