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Queens Borough President Richards announces new partnerships, services available at Immigrant Welcome Center

(Courtesy of Queens Borough President's Office)

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards announced Monday, Sept. 13, that the Immigrant Welcome Center in Queens Borough Hall will partner with Community Mediation Services and CUNY Citizenship Now! to provide weekly, in-person services for the more than 1 million immigrants who call the borough their home.

The announcement comes four months after the soft launch of the first-of-its-kind center at Queens Borough Hall, a service hub providing comprehensive, multilingual immigration-related resources such as legal assistance and referrals to community-based organizations and city services.

Queens got its nickname as, the “World’s Borough” for a reason, as more than one-third of New York City’s 3 million immigrants reside in the borough. Nearly 50 percent of the Queens’ 2.4 million residents were born abroad.

“More than 1 million immigrants from all corners of the globe call Queens home, and it is vitally important that all our neighbors regardless of place of origin know that Queens Borough Hall — The People’s House — is ready and able to address their needs, whatever they may be,” Richards said.

Richards said they’re excited to partner with CUNY Citizenship Now! and Community Mediation Services in order to expand the resources available at the Immigrant Welcome Center.

Since its inception, the Immigrant Welcome Center has directly interfaced with nearly 100 constituents, the majority of whom sought legal assistance and were referred to CUNY Citizenship Now! for free legal consultations.

CUNY Citizenship Now! Director Allan Wernick said they are proud to begin in-person immigration law services at Queens Borough Hall, beginning Sept. 14.

“COVID-19 will not stop us from providing free, high-quality legal assistance to immigrants seeking a path to U.S. citizenship,” Wernick said.

Members of Richards’ staff who oversee the Immigrant Welcome Center also continue to meet directly with community-based organizations and attend community events to interact with residents in need of services right in their own neighborhoods.

“Community Mediation Services is excited to partner with Borough President Richards in assisting our fellow community members one excluded worker at a time,” Community Mediation Services CEO John Harrison said. “We encourage anyone whose income has been impacted by the pandemic to reach out to the CMS office for direct assistance.”

The Immigrant Welcome Center has several upcoming events. Every Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., they will host a bilingual Community Mediation Services staff member, whose role within the center is to assist immigrant New Yorkers in applying for the New York State Excluded Workers Fund — a one-time payment program for immigrant residents who lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic but were ineligible for various federal unemployment and pandemic relief benefits.

Every Tuesday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning on Sept. 14, they will host an immigration lawyer from CUNY Citizenship Now! — the largest university legal assistance program in the nation — offering Queens immigrants free legal consultations and application assistance.

Open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Immigrant Welcome Center can be contacted via phone at 718-286-0644 and via email at welcome@queensbp.org. In-person visits are by appointment only. The Community Mediation Services or CUNY Citizenship Now! representatives can be reached via phone by contacting the Immigrant Welcome Center.

Community Mediation Services can also be reached at 718-523-6868 or EWF@mediatenyc.org.

Additional information about Borough President Richards’ Immigrant Welcome Center can be found at queensbp.org/immigrantwelcomecenter, the Center’s dedicated webpage, complete with a community calendar and links to a wide array of resources.

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