The City Bar Justice Center and Covenant House Launch Initiative to Support Migrant Youth in NYC

New York, October 13, 2022 – The City Bar Justice Center’s Immigrant Justice Project is pleased to launch its NYC Migrant Youth Initiative, a partnership with Covenant House New York supported by a growing cohort of Justice Center pro bono partners to address the urgent legal needs of the growing number of migrant youth arriving in New York City from the U.S.-Mexico border.

Hundreds of people fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries in search of a better, more stable future continue arriving daily in New York City amidst an escalating political battle between Florida’s and Texas’s governors and leaders of sanctuary cities like New York. Thousands of migrants – including families and unaccompanied youth – need both immediate life essentials such as food, clothing, and shelter, as well as assistance with longer-term legal needs. Nonprofit organizations including the Justice Center and Covenant House New York (Covenant House) are developing new initiatives in response to public officials’ call for help in expanding NYC’s capacity to address these needs, which are quickly overwhelming local services providers.

Covenant House meets immediate needs for food, clothing, safety, and medical and mental health care for young people experiencing homelessness and trafficking. The new initiative will ensure that migrant youth seeking such assistance from Covenant House also have access to free, high quality information and advice about immigration law. With expert staff from the Justice Center and Covenant House providing pro bono attorneys with training and mentoring, the initiative kicked off with a virtual clinic on Wednesday, September 28 and will expand throughout the autumn and winter with a series of Know Your Rights, Screening, and Freedom of Information Act clinics and presentations to provide migrant youth with a reliable baseline of information about options for securing immigration status as well as the means to secure identity and other essential documents. Drawing from these clinics, the initiative will also identify possible immigration remedies for youth and work to secure longer-term representation for those who can pursue some form of permanent status.

“The City Bar Justice Center is proud to collaborate with Covenant House and a growing roster of generous pro bono partners to help meet urgent legal needs of migrant youth caught up in a growing crisis rooted in systemic inequities. We look forward to providing these youngest new New Yorkers with high-quality legal assistance that can help lessen their burdens as they cope with sudden life changes,” said Kurt M. Denk, Executive Director of the City Bar Justice Center.

Julie Farber, Executive Director of Covenant House New York, stated, “With our location steps from the Port Authority, Covenant House New York is on the front lines responding to this crisis. We are privileged to welcome and shelter these traumatized young people who are escaping drug cartels, starvation, danger to their lives for being LGBTQ+, political persecution and human trafficking. This crisis is stretching all service providers beyond capacity and their legal needs far surpass what our small legal department can accommodate. We are extremely grateful to the City Bar Justice Center for partnering with us to ensure that all of the young people we serve have access to the highest quality legal services at this traumatic moment in their lives.”

About the City Bar Justice Center

The City Bar Justice Center furthers access to justice by addressing unmet civil legal needs of New Yorkers struggling with poverty and other systemic socioeconomic barriers. The Justice Center mobilizes law firms, corporate legal departments, and other legal institutions to provide pro bono legal services; educates the public on pertinent legal issues; fosters strategic community relationships; and impacts public policy.

About Covenant House

Since 1972, Covenant House has opened its doors to over 1.5 million young people experiencing homelessness and trafficking, one youth at a time. That’s half a century of believing in youth and nurturing their promise, talents, and courage. Covenant House is steadfast in their commitment to build a present and future of safety, healing, housing, and opportunity for young people facing homelessness.