State budget includes $10M expansion for free legal services for immigrants

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WHITE PLAINS -

A 2-year-old program that provides free legal services for immigrants is being expanded with $10 million that was included in the new state budget.

The Liberty Defense Project includes rapid-response legal counsel for immigrants caught up in federal government raids and sweeps. State officials say the program is a response to the Trump administration's crackdown on immigration.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said: "New York has long been a beacon of hope for immigrants from across the globe, and as Washington continues to threaten the rights of new Americans we will work harder than ever to ensure they are protected. By expanding the programs offered through the Liberty Defense Project, we can ensure New York's immigrants have the social services, health care, and urgent assistance they need as they seek a better life for themselves and their families."

State Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick says that while the Liberty Defense Project may be done with the best intentions, it's encouraging more illegal immigration.

But Patrick Young, an immigration attorney in Hempstead, says the immigrants are entitled to due process under the Constitution.

The Liberty Defense Project is the first of its kind in the nation. It has provided more than 30,000 legal services to immigrants and communities in need since 2017.

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