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Centro Communitario y de Asesoria Legal, Inc.

Award Recipients - 2000

Mercedes Cano, Founder

www.centrocomunitario.org

El Centro Comunitario y de Asesoria Legal, inc. (the Center) serves the unemployed, undocumented and other Latino/a immigrants underserved by the legal system due to lack of economic resources and barriers of language and culture.  Unfortunately, many Latino immigrants believe that their legal status in the United States prohibits them from access to government services.  The Center’s fundamental mission is to educate immigrants about their legal rights in the United States.  
Ms. Cano initiated the Center in 1999 after surveying the needs of Latino/a immigrants living in Queens neighborhoods of Jackson Heights, Corona and Flushing.  She organized workshops on a range of immigration issues and recruited CUNY Law School graduates as volunteers. They conducted workshops in Spanish twice a week, which were attended by about 400 people.  From the list of attendees, Ms. Cano recruited volunteers interested in building the Center.  Subsequent workshops covered topics such as amnesty, concerns about the United States census, income taxes, workplace abuse and discrimination, and the rules regarding tourist, professional and student visas.  
The Center is located in Jackson Heights, Queens where community residents can have access to a safe space for information and training that allows them to advocate for themselves.


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