BY: Deni Robey | DATE: Nov 17, 2021

First undocumented lawyer in New York sets out to help immigrant military families navigate citizenship

The David Prize is a celebration of individuals and ideas to create a better, brighter New York City. It rewards visionaries who truly get things done and who need funding and visibility to change the trajectory of their work.

Cesar Vargas ’11 is building a new network of support, backed by a coalition of lawyers, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and representatives of local and state government, to empower immigrants-in-uniform and their families to navigate both immigration and military law.

The David Prize calls Cesar, the first undocumented lawyer in New York, a patriot, a thought leader, and a fearless advocate.

billboard of prize winners

“This is a product of what CUNY Law does,” Cesar said. “They encourage you to do the work that you feel needs to happen in your community. I wanted to protect the rights of service members. CUNY law allowed me to be bold in my advocacy.”

The U.S. has more than half a million non-citizen veterans. Immigrants are promised expedited citizenship when they enlist, but the reality is a long, complicated process. Advocates estimate that hundreds of veterans from New York City are deported each year.

Please join us in congratulating Cesar for this recognition of his dedication to the city and country he calls home. You can follow his work on twitter at @DREAMer_Esq