Many of the newest immigrant arrivals in Ulster County are individuals and families forced to flee dangerous conditions in their Central American homelands. They are entitled under international law to refuge or asylum, but the U.S. and other countries have made such status extremely difficult to get. Asylum seekers must pursue lengthy and expensive legal procedures. And during that effort, they may be suddenly and unexpectedly picked up and held in detention or deported with minimal opportunity to appeal.

UIDN has faced many challenges in its efforts to help these new friends. These challenges include providing access to basic necessities, i.e., clothing, food, and shelter, and helping immigrants find legal assistance and keep appointments  with immigration authorities and courts in New York City.

Our Family and Household Support Team hosts a third Thursday Give-Away program at Holy Cross/Santa Cruz Episcopal Church to distribute clothing, food, home goods, school supplies, toiletries, and toys. More than 40 volunteers have participated in this work over the past year.

UIDN will also continue to offer Know Your Rights trainings to immigrants and workshops on how to set up temporary guardianship forms to provide for the care of children if their parents are detained or deported.

In addition, UIDN has provided transportation to the Bronx and lower Manhattan for court appearances and ICE check-ins.  And, in the mid-Hudson Valley, volunteers provide rides to medical and legal appointments and to school parent-teacher conferences.

Now that NYS has passed the Greenlight bill, enabling immigrants to get permits and drivers’ licenses, there will be many who can greatly improve their circumstances as legal drivers.  This means that UIDN will have a new challenge: to help immigrants prepare for driving tests and licensure, often without English.

UIDN tables at area events to share information about immigrants in the Hudson Valley.