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STATEMENT: NYLAG Responds to New York City’s FY 2025 Adopted Budget

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 8, 2024 

CONTACT: Sara Rodriguez, srodriguez@nylag.org, 212-613-6566

NEW YORK, NY – The New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) released the following statement on the Fiscal Year 2025 adopted budget for New York City: 

“As one of New York City’s largest civil legal service providers, communities throughout the five boroughs rely on NYLAG to access justice, often in a time of crisis. Our advocates work diligently to meet people where they are and make our services as accessible as possible, partnering with every client to deliver dignified, trauma-informed legal resources, counsel, and advocacy. From this perspective, we advocate for a city budget that provides us with the resources we need to increase access to justice among lower income New Yorkers, supports those communities’ broader needs, and takes an equitable approach towards cultivating racial, social, and economic justice overall. 

We are pleased that the City’s FY 2025 budget continues to invest in critical initiatives that provide legal services to New Yorkers experiencing poverty, low wage workers, veterans, survivors of intimate partner violence, immigrants, tenants facing eviction, and homeowners facing foreclosure. We thank the City Council for delivering this funding, and especially thank them for including $1 million for a new estate planning initiative to preserve generational wealth in communities of color as well as over $12 million for the Domestic Violence and Empowerment (DoVE) Initiative. Our advocacy for long-term investments in civil legal services continues, and this funding crucially ensures that in this fiscal year, we can meet our clients’ immediate needs while also forging systemic change throughout the institutions that so often cause harm. 

“Additionally, we are grateful to see $4.4 million going to legal services for low-income immigrants. We thank the Council for recognizing just how important these services are for all our immigrant neighbors, and we look forward to the disbursement of funds across providers like NYLAG and our partners.  

“As previously mentioned regarding civil legal services more broadly, this investment is a welcome first step in what we hope will be a larger, sustained, long-term investment in immigration legal services, especially because removal defense and post order defense work — one of the most critical legal services we can provide — requires full representation over many years. Most unrepresented immigrants in removal proceedings, or those represented by attorneys lacking the expertise cultivated over many years of practice, will ultimately be ordered deported. 

“Especially as we welcome more of our new neighbors, we need increased and multi-year investments in expert immigration legal services that prioritize full representation. Without it, New York City will inevitably see thousands of rejected applications over the coming years, in many cases keeping recently arrived immigrants permanently locked out of the legal job market and thus in exploitative and lower paying jobs, leaving our new neighbors in greater need of our safety net systems but with minimal if any access to them. 

“Ultimately, meaningful, long-term investments in civil legal services play a critical role in meeting New Yorkers’ immediate needs, and in making ours a more just and equitable city. We are glad to see this intent reflected in the adopted FY 2025 budget. We look forward to continuing our partnership with City leaders to advocate for all our clients’ experiences, and to forge a path towards racial, social, and economic justice for all who call New York City home.” 

 

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About NYLAG 

Founded in 1990, New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) is a leading civil legal services organization combatting economic, racial, and social injustice by advocating for people experiencing poverty or in crisis. Our services include comprehensive, free civil legal services, financial empowerment, impact litigation, policy advocacy, and community partnerships. NYLAG exists because wealth should not determine who achieves justice. We aim to disrupt systemic racism by serving individuals and families whose legal and financial crises are often rooted in racial inequality. NYLAG goes to where the need is, providing services in more than 380 community sites (e.g., courts, hospitals, libraries) and on our Mobile Legal Help Center. NYLAG’s staff of over 350 impacted the lives of more than 130,000 people last year. 

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