Pro Bono Forecast – Winter 2016-17 – by Lynn M. Kelly, Executive Director
by CBJC Staff November 21, 2016
The City Bar Justice Center has reviewed how the pro bono issues are likely to change for low-income and disadvantaged clients in the coming year. We are also hearing from many new volunteers who want to get involved. Here is the City Bar Justice Center Pro Bono Forecast for Winter 2016-17:
- Immigration is the number one pro bono issue in NYC this winter.
All cases that can be filed for affirmative relief should be filed now. If your office has the capacity to take on additional Central American asylum, SIJS, or U cases, please do so as the need is urgent. New DACA applications should not be filed now. With respect to DACA renewals, we believe those eligible to renew should do so immediately. Although the fate of DACA remains uncertain, and any renewal may not be adjudicated in time, filing a renewal carries no additional risk and may possibly extend work permits. Additionally, in the political dealing that accompanies change, those in compliance with the letter of the DACA Executive Order may be able to argue that which was relevant with Amnesty in 1986.
- Temporary Protected Status provided by Executive Orders that gave relief to victims of disasters around the world such as El Salvador, Nepal, and Haiti is also subject to revocation. There will be renewal clinics and all pending cases should be screened for any additional relief. A new tool from the Immigrant Advocates Network and ProBonoNet called “immi” looks like a great resource for clinics, potentially making it easier for pro bono attorneys who are not immigration experts to volunteer.
- Naturalizations for all eligible New Yorkers will be an area of increased need for pro bono. Immigration advocates have been working on mass naturalizations for several years. In addition to the more straightforward applications, there are also many hard cases involving green card holders with old and new criminal convictions that need expert sorting and advising. Indeed, in one such challenging case, one of our pro bono volunteers recently helped a mentally disabled woman obtain citizenship.
- Immigration event: ADELANTE: Meeting the Social and Legal Services Needs of Central American Refugees in New York (Friday, December 16, 2016 at Fordham Law School). Click here to register.
- The increase in bias and hate crimes is the second emerging pro bono issue for 2016-17. There is a NYS law criminalizing hate crimes but it doesn’t cover all instances of abuse, such as driving around and yelling hurtful names out of a car window. We need to raise our collective knowledge about what qualifies as a hate crime and how to advise people to report them. If it isn’t a crime, is it a tort or a civil rights law violation and can victims sue? What should we advise victims to do?
- The expected increase in calls to represent people arrested at peaceful protests is the third pro bono issue. Members of the City Bar are calling asking how to help and we need to raise the collective knowledge base on how to represent people on disorderly conduct and other charges in NY Criminal Court.
- Event on Assisting Victims of Hate Crimes and Representing Peaceful Protesters (Monday, December 19, 2016 at the City Bar CLE Center). This training is sponsored by the City Bar Justice Center and VOLS. More details are coming soon.
- In the meantime, learn the basics online: New York Criminal Law 101
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