Oct. 30, 2023 By Iryna Shkurhan
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng distributed $900,000 in federal funds to be split equally between two notable Queens immigration advocacy organizations – Women for Afghan Women and Emerald Isle Immigration Center.
The grant is through the 2023 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program, which is administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under the Department of Homeland Security. Overall this year, $22 million was awarded to 65 organizations across 29 states, an increase in $5 million from last year.
Women for Afghan Women, a grassroots civil society organization established in 2011, is headquartered in Flushing and has a community center in Fresh Meadows. They provide immigrants with legal services, language training and emergency assistance to secure housing, food and clothing. WAW has also provided humanitarian aid, along with economic empowerment and education, to thousands of families in Afghanistan.
“Through the USCIS grant, WAW is able to help underserved and low-income immigrants apply for U.S. Naturalization and study for their Naturalization exam. Without this grant, this service wouldn’t have been available for free in the community,” said Naheed Samadi Bahram, U.S. Country Director at Women for Afghan Women. “WAW’s attorneys, caseworkers, and instructors are there for our community members in every step of their journey to Naturalization!”
To date, the organization has helped 400 individuals receive U.S citizenship by walking them through the application process and providing free preparation courses ahead of their naturalization exam. This marks the third time that they received the grant.
The staff and volunteers at Emerald Isle Immigration Center, based in Woodside, assist with a range of immigration applications and petitions such as green cards, temporary protected status and DACA.
When the center was founded in 1987, they solely focused on assisting Irish immigrants. But today, their doors are open to a range of nationalities. Their services also include help with immigration applications as well as social services such as mental health support, healthcare assistance, free tax preparation and case management for benefits and entitlements.
“For over 35 years, the Emerald Isle Immigration Center has provided new New Yorkers with the free legal aid and support they need to become U.S. citizens,” said Siobhan Dennehy, executive director of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center. “It is a privilege to work with these aspiring citizens, and we are so proud to be continuing these efforts in our local community thanks to another generous grant from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Emerald Isle Immigration Center is also in the process of expanding into the Bronx. This year’s grant also marked their first increase in funding for the first time in ten years.
“I thank Women for Afghan Women and the Emerald Isle Immigration Center for the important work they do in Queens,” said Meng. “It is a pleasure to work with their teams and have them located in my congressional district, and these funds will help both groups provide even more assistance to our immigrant communities. I look forward to continuing to work with them.”