The City of Jersey City will offer their refugee and asylee residents free medical exams and legal services next week, officials announced today.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
The medical exam is a requirement of the Green Card application. At the same time, the HHS Division of Immigrant Affairs will provide free help preparing the required applications as the nation’s only municipal office accredited to do so by the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Jersey City is writing a new narrative around immigrants and public health. This is how America’s cities should be welcoming new immigrants, by focusing on health, inclusion, and supporting newcomers for the benefit of all,” Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement.
“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.”
These new services expand upon the Fulop Administration’s efforts to assist vulnerable immigrants and refugees with the resources and support they need to fully integrate and become productive members of society.
Two years after Fulop and the city council created the Division of Immigrant Affairs, 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 in 2020.
“Immigrant frontline workers carried us through the pandemic. By helping refugees and immigrants navigate the system and access services, we’re strengthening public health and resilience for all,” added Health and Human Services Director Stacey Flanagan.
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.
Without the city-sponsored program, refugees and asylees can fall victim to unlicensed, predatory providers and are often defrauded into pay thousands of dollars.
“My father was an immigrant—un bracero—a migrant farmworker who labored in the fields. And I’m his son—a doctor!,” noted Dr. Orlando V. Gonzalez, MD, who is now the nation’s first municipal Civil Surgeon authorized to provide immigration medical exams.
“It honors my own family’s immigrant journey to now help refugees in theirs.”
Gonzalez is the founder of LIFE*MOD, a trademarked health and wellness center in New York City and Jersey City.
After several years of volunteering with various immigrant groups, Division of Immigrant Affairs Director Mike McLean lauded the effort.
“Refugees add enormous value to our society and our economy. 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 now available at the Jersey City HHS Clinic, located within 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.