Some of the city’s top white shoe law firms are on track to offer pro bono legal help to migrants filing asylum claims under Mayor Eric Adams’ new “Asylum Application Help Center.”
City Hall announced Tuesday that within “the coming weeks” that the new help center will operate out of the Midtown-based Roosevelt Hotel, which has become Gotham’s main migrant processing center and arrival point.
Although the Adams administration has organized nonprofits to help migrants file asylum claims out of the American Red Cross headquarters on West 49th Street, “many have not officially filled out their asylum applications, delaying their eligibility for work authorization.”
A complicated and litigious process, in order to apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) needed to work in the U.S., the applicant needs to have been waiting 150 days or more without a decision from U.S. Citizenship and Immigrant Services or immigrant court.
Federal regulations give USCIS up to 30 days to make a decision from asylum applicants meaning the minimum wait period is 180 days.
High powered law firms such as Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP; Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP; and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP are on track to offer pro bono legal services to help migrants navigate the paperwork trail facing asylum seekers.
Over 76,000 migrants have arrived in New York City since April 2022, but upwards of 48,000 are currently housed in 175 emergency shelters and hotels.
The help site will also offer migrants translation services, assistance tied to enrolling kids into the city’s public school system, discounted transportation options, health insurance and IDNYC, the city’s government-issued ID card program.
The city estimates the crisis will cost at least $4.3 billion by the end of June 2024, but that figure could be higher if individuals continue arriving.
Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul have called on the Biden administration to ease federal requirements green-lighting work authorization, especially amidst a backlog at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement that’s leaving some individuals waiting up to a decade before their asylum claims are heard in court.
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