Volunteer Recognition: Oran Ebel, Maurizio Levi-Minzi, Sasha Linney, and Brita Siepker of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

  • 2/27/2013
  • Lawyers Alliance for New York

Date: February 26, 2013
Name of Attorneys: Oran Ebel, Maurizio Levi-Minzi, Sasha Linney, and Brita Siepker
Name of Firm: Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
Client Served: NEDAP

Accomplishment: Created collaboration agreements between NEDAP and its partners in the NYC DREAMer Loan Fund, enabling immigrants to borrow funds for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals application fee.

Specific Case Highlights:  NEDAP is a resource and advocacy center that works with community groups to promote financial justice in New York City’s low-income communities and communities of color.  Founded in 1995, NEDAP offers assistance through direct services, education and outreach, policy advocacy, coalition work, capacity building, and research to eliminate discriminatory economic practices that harm communities and perpetuate inequality and poverty.

Launched in August 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) initiative is a program that allows certain undocumented immigrants who were brought into the United States as children to qualify for deferred action in which the individual will not be removed from the country for a two-year period and may also receive employment authorization.  In September, NEDAP approached Lawyers Alliance for assistance with the organization of the NYC DREAMer Loan Fund to provide loans to support applicants for DACA relief. 

NEDAP designed the loan fund to provide no-interest loans to DACA applicants needing help to cover the $465 application fee.  The nonprofit received seed capital for the fund from an anonymous donor and is administering it as a loan loss guarantee fund with two participating community development credit unions, the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union and the Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union.  NEDAP assembled this initiative in collaboration with the New York Immigration Coalition, which facilitates a screening network to ensure the eligibility of DACA applicants; and Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, which is working to replicate the model in other cities and states.

Oran Ebel, Maurizio Levi-Minzi, Sasha Linney, and Brita Siepker of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP assisted NEDAP by drafting an agreement describing the relationship with the community development credit unions, as well as a memorandum of understanding for the collaboration with the screening organizations.  With the prompt assistance of the Debevoise attorneys, the NYC DREAMer Loan Fund made its first loan in December 2012 and is currently processing an additional 15 loans.  It is estimated that 60,000 immigrant youths in New York City may qualify for the DACA program.  The agreements that the Debevoise team created for NEDAP have been shared with a similar collaboration in California, allowing the fund structure to be replicated quickly there.

NEDAP’s Associate Director, Deyanira Del Rio, praised the Debevoise team’s efforts, stating, “Our attorneys could not have been better or more helpful.  They were flexible and responsive, and helped us think through and refine aspects of the project as they were drafting the agreements.  We were especially pleased to work with Sasha, who was a law intern at NEDAP a few years ago.”

About Lawyers Alliance for New York: Lawyers Alliance for New York is the leading provider of business and transactional legal services for nonprofit organizations that are improving the quality of life in New York City neighborhoods. By connecting lawyers, nonprofits, and communities, we help nonprofits to develop affordable housing, stimulate economic development, promote community arts, and operate and advocate for vital programs for children and young people, the elderly, and other low-income New Yorkers. Each year, staff attorneys at Lawyers Alliance and 1,400 volunteers serve more than 600 clients.

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