NYC earmarks millions to help immigrants with Trump's 'heartless hurdles'

Volunteers bring food and provisions to Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Tuesday, May 12, 2020, to be distributed to immigrant families. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The New York City Council has designated millions of dollars to help the city's immigrant population amid what the lawmakers call the Trump administration's ongoing efforts to hurt them.

The council allocated about $28.4 million in the fiscal year 2021 budget to fund several programs, including free legal services to help immigrants tackle the naturalization process, legal representation for unaccompanied minors who were separated from their families and are facing immigration proceedings, and services to improve access to health care and address cultural and language barriers.

In a statement, Council Speaker Corey Johnson specifically called out President Donald Trump on his immigration crackdown even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"From ICE raids to increased fees to apply for citizenship, President Trump has continued to heartlessly create hurdles for immigrants in our country, even during the pandemic when they were being disproportionately impacted by the virus," Johnson said. "That's why it's more important than ever that New York City protect immigrants and do everything we can to help them get the services they need and deserve to succeed in our city and country."

The council said in a statement that the programs seek to help immigrants with the challenges and disparities they face in health care outcomes, including in mental health; immigration court proceedings; applications for permanent residency and citizenship, for which the Trump administration raised fees; and more.

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"At a time when many immigrant families need assistance because they are disproportionately experiencing economic hardship and health risks from the COVID-19 pandemic, I am proud that New York City is committed to funding critical services our immigrant neighbors need," Council Member Carlos Menchaca said in a statement. "Heightened fear about the public charge rule and ICE raids warrant a robust response by the city to keep our communities informed and protected."

Earlier this week, a federal judge blocked the citizenship application fee hike — to $1,160 up from $640 — from taking effect but the Trump administration is expected to appeal.