Eugene M. Lang Foundation Takes Action With New Grant For Immigration Lawyers

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Eugene M. Lang Foundation Takes Action With New Grant For Immigration Lawyers

At a time when migrant families remain separated as a result of the Trump administration’s "zero tolerance" immigration policy, Avatar actor Stephen Lang and the New York-based Eugene M. Lang Foundation are taking action.

Lang and his family foundation — established in 1963 by his late father Eugene, a self-made businessman and active philanthropist who made headlines in 1981 when he promised full four-year college scholarships to a graduating class of East Harlem sixth graders at his own childhood alma mater — recently committed a $100,000 grant to a partnership with Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC), whose focus is to send legal representation to the border and help detained immigrant families stay together. That grant was later matched by an anonymous donor for a total of $200,000 — all going toward specialized training and funding for IJC lawyers.

Eugene's grandfather came to the U.S. after fleeing political persecution in Hungary, so the American Dream is more than just a hazy ideal for his descendants. "It’s a cliche but it's still absolutely a fact that this country was built on the back and sweat of immigrants," explains Lang, who is currently in production on the Avatar sequels, with the second film of the franchise expected to premiere in 2020. "It seems to me that the current administration has chosen to ignore that, completely in the name of some kind of privileged view. ... This nation belongs to all of us."

IJC's immigration fellowship program pairs post-graduate and experienced lawyers with community-based organizations; cases are assigned based upon each lawyer's experiential level, with veteran practicers handling the most complex. Under the leadership of Executive Director Jojo Annobil, IJC has provided specialized legal assistance to immigrants in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Lawyers have also been sent to Texas and Kansas, with plans to expand to Florida and Maryland by September 2018...

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