NYC to Open Asylum Application Help Center As PIA-owned Roosevelt Hotel Reopens

By A Correspondent
Pakistan government has leased out the Roosevelt Hotel to the NYC government for $220 million. (Pakistan Week photo)
New York City has announced openinng of the Asylum Application Help Center, which will offer thousands of asylum seekers assistance in completing and filing asylum applications as they seek a new life in the United States.

While the tens of thousands of migrants that have arrived in New York City over the last year seeking shelter have already been paroled into the country by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, many have not officially filled out their asylum applications, delaying their eligibility for work authorization.

New York City has historically been a significant destination for asylum seekers due to its diverse population, robust immigrant support networks, and the availability of legal and social services. The city’s vibrant immigrant communities and organizations play a crucial role in providing support to asylum seekers, assisting them in navigating the asylum process, and helping them rebuild their lives.

Opening in the coming weeks — in consultation with immigration legal service providers and with the initial pro-bono support of the law firms Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP; Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP; and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP — the Asylum Application Help Center will help thousands of asylum seekers currently in New York City apply for asylum, bringing them one step closer to being eligible for work authorization.

Acccording to an announcement by the mayor’s office, interested asylum seekers will schedule a one-on-one appointment at the application help center, where trained application assistants will work with the applicant to answer questions. The Mayor’s office says experienced immigration lawyers will be on-site to supervise application assistants and provide guidance, and interpreters will be on-site to provide in-person language assistance. Mayor Adams also encouraged New Yorkers interested in working at the Asylum Application Help Center to apply immediately.

“Throughout this crisis, New York City has led the nation in answering the call to support arriving asylum seekers, and we are doing that again today,” said Mayor Adams. “The Asylum Application Help Center will assist the asylum seekers in New York City through the complex federal immigration process, bringing them one step closer to being eligible for work authorization and the ability to support themselves. We must act swiftly to ensure the well-being of the thousands of migrants whose deadline to submit an asylum application is fast approaching, and this center will help us do that. I encourage New Yorkers to join this unprecedented effort by applying today to work at our center.”

The Asylum Application Help Center will operate Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM in the American Red Cross Greater New York headquarters in Midtown Manhattan by appointment only. In addition to the Asylum Application Help Center, the city will invest $5 million to continue supporting a range of legal providers, including Lutheran Social Services, African Services Committee, Catholic Charities Community Services, and the Pro Se Plus Project (comprised of the New York Legal Assistance Group, Central American Legal Assistance, UnLocal, African Communities Together, Masa, and Catholic Migration Services) operating pro se clinics and hosting information sessions at the American Red Cross Greater New York headquarters.

“Legal services are a critical next step in the city’s approach to support people seeking asylum as they work to achieve independence,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “The city is making important investments in the Asylum Application Help Center in partnership with a number of private sector partners. Thank you to all the firms, legal professionals, and everyday New Yorkers that are and will be a part of this effort. Ultimately, if we all work together with a national strategy for a national issue, we can address this humanitarian crisis.”

“The necessary first step toward work authorization — and a new life in this country — is a completed asylum application,” said Chief Counsel to City Hall Brendan McGuire. “By scaling up this help center to aid thousands of asylum seekers, this administration is providing targeted assistance to those who need it urgently.  And we are not doing it alone.  The non-profit community, the private immigration bar, and many of the city’s leading law firms have answered the call.  We are grateful to all of them and look forward to growing this effort in the weeks ahead.”

The mayor’s office says in the coming weeks, the other support services offered at the Asylum Seeker Resource Navigation Center — currently operating at the American Red Cross Greater New York headquarters — will transition to the city’s Asylum Seeker Arrival Center based out of The Roosevelt Hotel. These services include New York City Department of Education school enrollment, Fair Fares enrollment, IDNYC, health insurance enrollment, and access to mental health counseling.

Pakistan government recently leased out the Roosevelt Hotel to the city government for $220 million. The hotel reopened its doors months after its closure at the height of pandemic.

Since this humanitarian crisis began, the city has taken fast and urgent action, opening a total of 175 emergency sites to provide shelter to asylum seekers, including 11 additional large-scale humanitarian relief centers; standing up navigation centers with support from community-based organizations to connect asylum seekers with critical resources; enrolling thousands of children in public schools through Project Open Arms; and more.

“Cleary Gottlieb is committed to assisting vulnerable asylum-seekers located in New York City to apply for relief, and to working alongside our partner organizations in these efforts to leverage our long-standing experience and expertise in humanitarian immigration law,” said Michael A. Gerstenzang, managing partner, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.

“We stand ready to help with this first step towards getting people authorization to work,” said Brad S. Karp, chair, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

“Simpson Thacher has a long-standing commitment to providing legal services to migrants fleeing dangerous conditions in their home countries,” said Josh Levine, co-chair, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s Pro Bono Committee.  “We recognize that the number of immigrant families arriving daily into New York City has reached an unprecedented level and we stand ready to help the city with the services needed to help these children and adults apply for asylum.”

“This crisis calls for tenacious professionalism to help those striving to make a new home in New York,” said Bret Parker, executive director, New York City Bar Association and Kurt M. Denk, executive director, City Bar Justice Center. “Our organizations and others like ours have seen the difference that pro bono legal services can make in times of emergency, and we’re confident that approach will have an impact here as well.”

“American Immigration Lawyers Association New York Chapter welcomes New York City’s efforts to provide support to the thousands of asylum seekers in need of assistance,” said Kushal Patel, chair, American Immigration Lawyers Association New York Chapter (AILA NY).


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