Joe Cassidy-Schaffer is a 2017 Equal Justice Works Fellow serving in the New York State Family Security Project.
As a Fellow, Joe provides essential and often complex immigration legal services for residents of a 14-county region in Western New York who do not qualify for other low-income programs, or have needs that are beyond the resources available through other local agencies.
The purpose of the New York State Family Security Project is to promote family security and community education through the delivery of high-quality legal services to underserved and/or low-income immigrant families. The project will involve conducting intakes, assessing eligibility for legal remedies, and providing direct representation or referrals when necessary.
There’s a significant population of immigrants with unmet legal needs living in upstate New York. Through outreach and collaboration with community-based organizations, the goal is to educate immigrants about their legal rights and options.
Andrew is part of the New York State Family Security Project (NYSFSP), focusing on immigration issues. He helps low-income immigrants and their families in a variety of ways. The first is through direct services, such as in immigration court and in the preparation of various immigration-related applications. The second is through enlisting other attorneys to do pro bono work for those immigrant families. The third is through community education, whereby immigrants and those wishing to assist them in the community may be informed of their rights and how best to assist them.
Providing legal services to refugees and low-income immigrants, including representation on matters before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Buffalo Immigration Court.
The Farmworker Legal Assistance Clinic of Cornell Law School serves low-income immigrant workers, primarily in Central and Western New York. In line with the needs of these communities, I assist with the immigration matters of immigrant youths, particularly those who have been abused, neglected or abandoned by one or both parents.
Access to justice for area farmworker communities, especially for children, remains extremely problematic. In-absentia deportation orders are common; unaccompanied children and detainees with valid claims appear routinely without legal representation. This project aims to serve this vulnerable and marginalized population.
Being from an immigrant family—I come to this project knowing the unique challenges of advocating for vulnerable and marginalized peoples.
Jordan Manalastas /
Equal Justice Works Fellow
The New York State Family Security Project (NYSFSP) will focus on providing legal representation and services to low-income immigrants and their families. The goal of this project is to promote family security and to provide immigrant families with the tools necessary to plan for family separation.
This project addresses the issues stemming from a lack of basic legal information for immigrants and their families in the rural counties of western New York. Many immigrants are unaware of the different visas available. Additionally, many lack the ability to navigate a very complex application process and the only help is far away in the city of Rochester. This project will allow access to more legal information and help keep families together.
The project addressed the increased need for legal representation for one of the most vulnerable and demonized populations—immigrants. With the help of this project, Azin was able to provide direct legal services for qualified cases involving asylum, TPS, DACA, and VAWA applications, and represent clients in Immigration Court and before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Azin has a long-standing commitment to public service and has previously worked with various non-profit organizations in the United States and abroad. The insights that Azin gained through her work have coalesced with her own experiences of asylum-seeking and refugee status when her family immigrated to Germany. Because of her previous positions and commitment to public service, she was in a unique position to contribute to this project.
Thanks to the New York State Family Security Project, I have been able to provide legal representation to these underserved communities and to narrow the justice gap.
Azin Ahmadi /
2017 Equal Justice Works Fellow
Represent clients in immigration court and before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS; provide legal assistance to immigrants and their families
Need Addressed By Project
I will be representing indigent immigrant clients in navigating the legal system and provide legal assistance. I will be advocating on behalf of the immigrant community in Buffalo to raise community awareness and support.
The Right Person For This Project
I am extremely passionate about immigration law. I have also worked with immigrant clients in my previous position as an Immigration Law Clerk and as a law student at Pitt’s Immigration Clinic.
To serve people who are immigrants and refugees in the Central New York region, primarily focused on the city of Syracuse and county of Onondaga.
While Syracuse is home to thousands of immigrants and refugees, there are only a handful of private immigration attorneys and legal services organizations are working at capacity. Through this fellowship, I will provide direct representation to clients in special immigrant juvenile status applications and to those seeking post-conviction relief and to vacate underlying deportation orders. Further, through this fellowship, I will work with legal services organizations to maximize the provision of community education workshops and trainings to affected populations.
Heather addressed the needs of individuals who may not meet the qualifications for the oath of citizenship waivers currently available but, because of their disability, are unable to complete the naturalization process with the accommodations offered.