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Last month, President Joe Biden signed a presidential memorandum to expand access to legal representation for low-income people, immigrants and asylum seekers. The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, a program that provides publicly funded lawyers to detained or incarcerated immigrants in the state, could potentially be a model for the Biden administration. The project began with a $500,000 grant from the New York City Council in 2013 and now receives $16.6 million in public funding to support over 100 staff, including attorneys, paralegals, social workers and administrators who work to better immigrants’ case outcomes. Advocates and experts believe the New York project has encouraged similar local efforts throughout the U.S. Vox
In other local immigration news…
Young Candidate Hopes to Win Queens’ 30th District
Juan Ardila, a progressive Democrat, is hoping to represent Queens’ 30th District in the New York City Council. He’s casting himself as a young and progressive alternative to Robert Holden, a longtime member of the district’s community board. While in office, Holden has voted against Democrats on some issues, such as policing and immigration enforcement. Ardila has said he has a personal understanding of immigrant hardships, as his mother’s close call with deportation led him to public policy. Still, Ardila’s supporters are doubtful he can win just with support from Latino voters and progressives, as Holden has gathered votes from white, home-owning, conservative-leaning central Queens neighborhoods. Spectrum News
Packed Competition to Represent Brooklyn Waterfront’s City Council
Eight Democratic candidates are competing to fill Stephen Levin’s spot representing Brooklyn’s 33rd City Council District. The district spans the borough’s waterfront, and is nearly 75% white. Of the candidates, just two have close connections with immigration. Victoria Cambranes has Guatemalan and Polish immigrant parents, and decided to get into politics when former President Donald Trump took office. April Somboun immigrated to the U.S. from Lao as a child and plans to focus on expanding child care access and increasing parks department funding. Gotham Gazette