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Deborah Berkman CityLimits

CityLimits: City Starts Enforcing Stricter Re-Sheltering Rules for Adult Migrants, As Advocates Stand Guard

The city’s implementation of stricter rules for immigrant shelter reapplications is making it increasingly difficult for immigrant adults without children to gain any sense of stability. Deborah Berkman shared with CityLimits the inherent injustices in the denial process, emphasizing the practical and legal challenges in reaching every person receiving a denial, as well as with the notices themselves. 

“’It’s a legal problem, and it’s like a practical problem,’ said Deborah Berkman, supervising attorney of the Shelter Advocacy Initiative at New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG).  

“To date, NYLAG has successfully intervened—with the advocacy of the Legal Aid Society—to help two migrants get extensions after initial denials. Legal Aid assisted another three in getting more time.  

“But the appeal process, in which migrants can request an independent review of their decision, could pose a hurdle to some, advocates noted. The city advises those who can’t file their appeal via email to ‘please notify the staff person who gave you this notice, and they will assist you,’ according to a denial letter shared with City Limits.   

“’A lot of my clients who are new immigrants are not able to read,’ Berkman explained. ‘If they hadn’t been able to be in touch with a legal services provider, it’s very unlikely that they would have had a place to sleep tonight.’ 

“Both the Legal Aid Society and NYLAG said they don’t know how many people have received denials, and they’re only learning about these cases because migrants are contacting them. 

“’For people who are receiving denials, but are accessing legal services, they’re going to be able to have some kind of advocacy,’ Berkman said. ‘Without legal services, it seems almost impossible, which I think makes it harder for us to know the number of people because unless they’ve come to us, we don’t know that they’re there. We don’t know that they’re being denied and then left outside.’” 


Read the full piece by Daniel Parra in CityLimits from May 25, 2024. 

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