Editor’s note: To attribute to Anne Marie Mulcahy, Director, Center on Immigration Justice

The Vera Institute of Justice applauds the New York State Assembly and Senate for their commitment to legal and social services for immigrant New Yorkers in their one-house budgets. Both houses advanced the Executive’s proposal for the Liberty Defense Project at last year’s levels, while the Assembly provided an additional $10 million in support of critical immigration services.

The increased investment is urgently needed in support of services like the pioneering New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) to support those hardest hit in this time of crisis and ensure an equitable and sustainable recovery. The crisis is far from over. Daily headlines depict an immigration system in crisis, resulting from decades of abusive and excessive immigration enforcement that has been compounded recently by the COVID-19 pandemic. As immigrant detention continues in New York state, the additional resources would ensure that those torn from their families by immigration enforcement have access to the full range of legal and social services needed to defend their rights, support their safe return to their communities, and promote family unity and community stability.

With a backlog of nearly 150,000 cases in New York State alone, there are at least 25,000 New Yorkers in immigration proceedings without representation who face the risk of permanent separation from their families and homes. In this time of opportunity and transition, New York must continue to lead by redoubling its commitment to immigrant New Yorkers and provide the resources necessary to repair the devastation of the past four years.

As the Assembly, Senate, and Executive continue to negotiate a Final State Budget in time to meet the April 1 deadline, we applaud their efforts to date and urge them to pave the path forward to an immigration system that centers human dignity by taking the Assembly’s lead and doubling down on successful statewide efforts that are critical to protecting immigrant families.