By Mark Hallum
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) will be extending his office hours to offer immigration legal assistance to the community as part of his commitment to the Independent Democratic Conference’s Immigration Defense Coalition.
By forming a partnership with the CUNY School of Law, Avella will have an experienced immigration attorney at his office to provide information to the community Monday between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. According to Avella, time with the attorney is confidential, free of charge and will be bilingual in English and Korean.
“This country was built on the backs of immigrants who came here looking for a better life for their families, many of them fleeing persecution. To deny them entry or support is to deny our American values etched in stone on the Statue of Liberty. The IDC and I will continue to fight to fund programs that aid immigrants and ensure that any person who needs help or resources knows that my office door is open to assist them. To the immigrants of Queens, and all of America, know that my office will always advocate on your behalf,” Avella said.
Anyone looking to use this service is asked to call Avella’s office at 718-357-3094 to reserve a spot.
The IDC also has an emergency hotline (1-800-213-6385) for immigration matters.
The IDC is a league of state senators elected as Democrats, but operate between party lines on the basis of passing legislation, and has been the target of criticism from their own party.
In January, the IDC added state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) to its ranks resulting in a vocal and contentious mutiny by his constituents at a town hall meeting.
“I wanted to let my constituents know about the failures of the minority Democratic Conference, a conference I left because I disagree with their objectives of bad mouthing and cannibalizing other Democrats that did not agree with them,” Peralta said.
Peralta was kicked out of the his own Democratic club as a result of his defection to the IDC. The New Visions Democratic Club of Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Corona voted unanimously to eject him.
A rally was scheduled at Avella’s office in Bayside this Friday protesting his allegiance to the IDC.
Avella’s seat was occupied by a Republican before he took office in 2009.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall