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OLA of Eastern Long Island teams up with NYC organization to offer free legal services to East End youth

Organizacion Latino-Americana of Eastern Long Island and The Door Legal Services of Manhattan are teaming up to offer free legal representation in immigration court to qualifying youth under 18 on the East End.

The Door received a grant in October from the Vera Institute of Justice that allowed its to expand and offer its services to more people, according to Erika Vera, a supervising attorney at The Door.

“It’s provided through the immigration court so it’s a bit of an unusual grant,” Ms. Vera said. “The main purpose of it is, across the nation, to provide representation — federally funded representation — to individuals that have diminished capacity, so this can be like any sort of adult with a cognitive disability, and they allocated some of the money to go towards representing youth, whether or not they have a cognitive disability.” 

According to a flier shared by OLA, qualifying youth must meet all of the following criteria to be eligible:

• They were formerly in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (shelters for minors who arrived in the US without a parent or guardian).

• They must live in New York City, Long Island or Westchester or Rockland counties.

• Are in removal proceedings.

• Have notices to appear filed in court and have a court hearing scheduled with the immigration court.

The Door was founded in 1972 and its mission is to empower young people to reach their potential by providing comprehensive youth development services, according to its website.

OLA of Eastern Long Island was founded in 2002. The organization works to create a more equitable East End for Latino immigrants by advocating for just and inclusive school policies, protecting families and programs, according to its website.

OLA of Eastern Long Island helps with the screening and refers possible candidates for representation. 

“We would commit to doing some of the screening and some of the legwork to present possible clients to them that they would then take on full legal services, legal representation for,” said Minerva Perez, executive director of OLA. “We’re just lucky to have The Door be able to potentially take these clients.”

Ms. Perez said the organization is hoping to locate at least 15 people that qualify for this relief.

OLA will also be offering their space on the East End for potential candidates to meet with lawyers from The Door to alleviate the stress of travel, according to Ms. Perez.

“I think it’s going to be a really positive partnership,” Ms. Vera said. She expects to start seeing referrals within the next two weeks.

Those who meet the eligibility criteria can contact OLA at (631) 899-3441.