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Programs aim to counsel immigrants losing protective status

Demonstrators rally in support of the Deferred Action

Demonstrators rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA, near Trump Tower in Manhattan on Oct. 5, 2017. Credit: AFP/Getty Images/Jewel Samad

New York is partnering with advocacy nonprofits for outreach to immigrants concerned about the threat of deportation as they lose their lawful status because the administration of President Donald Trump is curtailing programs allowing them to stay legally in the United States.

The state has been funding programs through its Office for New Americans to provide guidance to those losing protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and the Temporary Protected Status, or TPS.

That commitment will be sustained, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement, as the state “will continue to fight for the American Dream of thousands of residents who contribute to our society.”

The next “Know Your Rights” workshops will take place in Manhattan and Queens, and in upstate Spring Valley and Utica. Well-attended workshops have been held on Long Island, and the outreach will continue here through one-on-one consultations with affected immigrants at the Central American Refugee Center in Hempstead and Brentwood.

The state cannot offer any solution to people’s immigration predicament, but part of its aim is to prevent those vulnerable to deportation from being misled.

“There’s a lot of fear, a lot of ‘what comes next’ and people who out of desperation are allowing themselves to be drawn in” by paralegals known as “notarios” or by costly “unscrupulous attorneys who are promising immigration benefits and hope that doesn’t really exist,” said Elise S. Damas, an attorney with the Central American Refugee Center.

The DACA program has shielded hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as minors, but the Trump administration announced its wind-down of those protections this year. About 32,900 immigrants under DACA live in New York, according to federal government statistics.

The TPS protections, granted to immigrants from nations in turmoil due to such factors as war and natural disasters, are set to end next year for Salvadorans, Haitians and Nicaraguans. As many as 16,200 Salvadorans and 5,200 Haitians are among TPS recipients in New York, according to estimates by the Center for American Progress. The number of affected Nicaraguans has not been estimated, but their population is relatively small in New York.

Immigration workshops

  • Feb. 15: Liberty Defense Project TPS/DACA Town Hall, 5-8 p.m. Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights and Hispanic Federation, at Fort Washington Collegiate Church, 729 W. 181 St., Washington Heights, Manhattan.
  • March 16: TPS/DACA Know Your Rights, 5-6 p.m. at Queens Library, 37-44 21st St., Long Island City, Queens.
  • For consultations at Central American Refugee Center, which has offices in Hempstead and Brentwood, call 516-489-8330.

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