One less barrier

Jersey City offers services for asylum seekers and refugees

New services are offered at Jersey City's City Hall Annex at 1 Jackson Square.
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New services are offered at Jersey City's City Hall Annex at 1 Jackson Square.

Jersey City will now offer free medical exams and legal services for refugees and asylees seeking Lawful Permanent Residence or ‘Green Card’ status.

The launch of expanded services commemorates June 20, United Nations World Refugee Day.

“Jersey City is writing a new narrative around immigrants and public health,” said Mayor Steven Fulop. “This is how America’s cities should be welcoming new immigrants, by focusing on health, inclusion, and supporting newcomers for the benefit of all. We remain committed to setting a national precedent for helping immigrants navigate the corridors of the federal immigration system, an often lengthy and confusing process.”

Jersey City’s Health and Human Services City Clinic at 1 Jackson Square will offer free medical exams, which is a requirement for those applying for a Green Card.

The HHS Division of Immigrant Affairs, the country’s only municipal office accredited by the U.S. Department of Justice to offer immigrants free legal services, will also provide free help preparing the applications for refugees and asylees.

“Immigrant frontline workers carried us through the pandemic,” said HHS Director Stacey Flanagan. “By helping refugees and immigrants navigate the system and access services, we’re strengthening public health and resilience for all.”

According to the city, Jersey City’s first recipient of the newest immigrant-focused program is a single mother who fled persecution in a developing country with her children.

A year after being granted asylum, her family can now apply for their Green Cards and look forward to citizenship four years later.

Avoiding predators 

According to the city, the program’s expansion will help refugees and asylees avoid spending thousands of dollars to get the services they need from unlicensed, predatory providers.

These new services expand upon the city’s efforts to help vulnerable immigrants and refugees.

Two years ago, Fulop and the Jersey City Council created the Division of Immigrant Affairs.

In 2020, Jersey City became the first municipality in the nation accredited for offering free legal services to immigrants as part of the U.S. Department of Justice Recognition and Accreditation Program.

Last year, Jersey City was named one of nation’s top 12 municipalities in integrating immigrants by the New American Economy for the city’s efforts in addressing socioeconomic disparities within immigrant populations.

The Fulop Administration has provided assistance to immigrants throughout the pandemic, offering rental and utility assistance as well as immigrant rights services.

Director Mike McLean will now lead the expansion of Jersey City’s immigration services as the director of the Division of Immigrant Affairs following several years of volunteering with various immigrant groups, according to the city.

“Refugees add enormous value to our society and our economy,” he said. “Those benefits are multiplied when community organizations, nonprofits, and local governments work together to support new immigrants. Jersey City is setting the example: Immigrants are far from a burden to our cities and towns—they are a blessing.”

The new medical and legal services are available at the Jersey City HHS Clinic, in the City Hall Annex at 1 Journal Square.

To schedule an appointment, Jersey City refugees and asylees who are applying for Green Cards can call the Division of Immigrant Affairs at 201-547-4328.

For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.