Archive for the ‘Policy and Advocacy’ Category

Catholic Charities Convenes at the White House with Fellow New York Leaders; Explores Immigrant Integration

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Members of the NYS Unaccompanied Minors Working Group, (L-R) Dr. Alan Shapiro, co-founder, Terra Firma (immigrant youth clinic), Steven Choi, executive director , New York Immigration Coalition, Commissioner Nisha Agarwal, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, and Mario Russell, director and senior attorney Refugee Services at Catholic Charities, NY (Photo : Rebecca S. Myles)

Catholic Charities NY joined fellow key members of the New York Immigration Coalition along with nearly 200 immigrants, immigrant integration experts and leaders of state and local governments from across the country to meet with officials from the Obama Administration last week for a White House Convening on Immigrant and Refugee Integration. The White House assembled this group to explore how the federal government can engage with communities on immigrant integration.

“This State and this nation have profited from the great contributions that immigrants have made throughout our history,” said Mario Russell, director and senior attorney in the Division of Immigrant and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities, NY. “We celebrate these contributions by finding how best to receive newcomers into the family of New York so that they can feel welcomed and experience success.”

Read more on the Latin Post

 

 

Pope Francis: Child Migrants to U.S. Must Be ‘Welcomed and Protected’

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

The Pope has called for tens of thousands of unaccompanied child migrants to be “welcomed and protected” as they attempt to enter the U.S. from Central America and Mexico, reports Elizabeth Dias in Time magazine.

In a letter read Monday at a Vatican conference in Mexico City on human migration and development, Pope Francis said migration “has now become a hallmark of our society and a challenge.”

The Vatican Radio translation continues with the Pope noting: “Many people forced to emigrate suffer, and often die, tragically; many of their rights are violated, they are obliged to separate from their families and, unfortunately, continue to be the subject of racist and xenophobic attitudes.”

The pontiff calls on nations to become more welcoming towards migrants, singling out the increasing numbers of children who migrate alone as deserving special care and attention.

“They are increasing day by day,” the Pope said, in a reference to the rising number of unaccompanied child migrants attempting to cross the U.S. border. “The humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected.”

Pope Francis ended the letter by suggesting that the international community should inform migrants about the dangers of their journey and instead promote development in their home countries.

Hear more on Vatican Radio.

Find out about the host of immigrant and refugee services Catholic Charities provides.

Are you looking for immigration help?

Call the New Americans Hotline run by Catholic Charities at 800-566-7636.

Child Migrants in NY Find Harrowing Journeys Continue

Friday, July 4th, 2014

The Department of Homeland Security reports that an estimated 47,000 unaccompanied children, some as young as seven, entered the United States illegally from the southwestern border region from October 2013 through the end of May 2014. That represents a greater than 100 percent increase over the entire previous year. Most of those kids were hoping to reunite with their parents in the U.S. while fleeing the epidemic of gang violence and civil unrest in Central America and Mexico. Many reported being assaulted or raped on their journey north.

Once these kids arrive in the United States, their psychological, emotional and physical wounds can be severe, said Mario Russell of Catholic Charities, which helps run a one-stop clinic that includes group therapy.

“Ten or 12 boys will get in a room together and they will talk about their experiences. And it’s amazing to see how they are finding solidarity, comfort, understanding and sense of peace. They get medical screening. They get dental assistance. They get food. They get this kind of totality of services. We keep them in the game,” said Russell.

Read the full story in Voice of America (VOA) News.

Do you or someone you know need immigration help?

Call the Catholic Charities–managed New York State New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636.

Click here for more information.

Catholic Charities Joins Forces with Fellow Faith Leaders to Fight Poverty

Friday, May 16th, 2014
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Joshua Scott – FPWA Images

“For the first time, three religious charity umbrella groups in New York are joining forces to study government policies and programs designed to help people living in poverty in the hopes of finding better solutions to the problem and helping really change lives,” reports Theresa Agovino in Crain’s New York yesterday May 15, 2014.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, and the UJA Federation of New York have worked on jointly providing services over the years, but their latest endeavor is taking a new turn. Two months ago, the trio tapped the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based social and economic and policy research group, to review various government poverty programs, with an emphasis on city programs, to learn more about what is effective. They paid $125,000 for the study and hope to have results in two months. The executive said that it was still too soon to say how they would use the results of the study because they aren’t sure what it will uncover.

Together the groups have a network of more than 400 nonprofits that offer a wide range of services including providing food, housing and job training to a total of nearly six million people. Many of those nonprofits receive city funding and work with government agencies on various programs.

‘We may have different theologies, but we each share the tradition of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and housing the homeless,’ said John Ruskay, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the UJA.

Despite all of the good works these groups and others provide, poverty in the city remains stubbornly high. The poverty rate in New York City was essentially unchanged at 21% from 2010 to 2012, but that’s up from 19% in 2008, according to the New York City’s Center for Economic Opportunity, which works to fight poverty.

‘We want to see how we can change the outcomes,’ said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities. ‘Maybe certain programs need to be scaled up or offered together. How can we do better?’

Jennifer Jones Austin, chief executive officer and executive director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, said she heard about a similar study being conducted in Wisconsin and thought it would be a good idea to create one for the city to help inform public policy. She opted to reach out to her counterparts to amplify her voice.

‘We are all distinguished and respected in our own rights,’ said Ms. Jones Austin, who served as co-chair of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s transition team along with Carl Weisbrod. ‘I believe that with the three of us people will be really listening at city hall.’

It is unacceptable in our wealthy city and nation that one out of five New Yorkers now lives below the poverty line, scrambling to feed and house their hungry children.

“Poverty and its effects afflicts too many of our neighbors in New York,” Msgr. Sullivan said as he discussed this interfaith initiative.

“I look forward to reporting back to you on the Urban Institute’s findings. This study will hopefully serve to enhance our work and our impact on those most in need.”

Follow us here on Facebook and Twitter to stay abreast of the latest findings.

Read the full story here in Crain’s New York.

“Let’s Get Started”: Catholic Charities and Archdiocese Stand Ready to Work With Mayor on Affordable Housing

Monday, May 5th, 2014

photoHis Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York and Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan applaud Mayor de Blasio’s just-announced $41 billion, five-borough, 10-year affordable housing plan to serve more than a half- million New Yorkers.

Called the most expansive and ambitious affordable housing agenda of its kind in the nation’s history, this plan to build or preserve 200,000 affordable apartments across all five boroughs was laid out today, May 5, 2014, by Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press conference at College Ave. in the Bronx. Mayor de Blasio pledged that the housing plan would reach New Yorkers ranging from those with very low incomes at the bottom of the economic ladder all the way to those in the middle class facing ever-rising rents in their neighborhoods.

“New York City’s current crisis of housing affordability threatens the basic human right to decent housing,” Cardinal Dolan said when he announced his support of the new housing plan.

“Since the 1960s, the Catholic Church in all boroughs of New York City, through parishes, religious communities, community-based organizations and Catholic Charities, has been at the heart of the development and preservation of affordable housing.

“I applaud the Mayor’s far-reaching 10-year plan to build and preserve 200,000 affordable housing units throughout our city, and the Church in all boroughs of New York City looks forward to continuing to work with NYC and Mayor de Blasio to help achieve this important affordable housing goal.”

The Catholic commitment to affordable housing in New York City is illustrated by over 50 years of experience constructing, preserving and rehabilitating housing for the poor, the low income working families, seniors and persons with special needs.

Through the dedicated long-term commitment of parishes, clergy, religious communities, Catholic Charities and affiliated community based organizations more than 6,000 units of affordable housing for financially strapped families, elderly persons and formerly homeless individuals have been developed in every borough of New York City.

To emphasize this support, Msgr. Sullivan spoke in person at the mayor’s press conference today.

“Housing is a basic human right,” Msgr. Sullivan said. “The dignity of the human person – made in the image of God – is threatened when an individual or family does not have adequate housing.”

Msgr. Sullivan provided examples of the Church’s past, present and future commitment to affordable housing. They include Highbridge where for the past three decades Msgr. Sakano and Jorge Battista have rebuilt a neighborhood with almost 2000 units of housing. They include over 4000 units of affordable housing for seniors, families, the formerly homeless and persons with AIDS/HIV built under the leadership of Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens including Bishop DiMarzio, Robert Siebel and John Tynan. And they include 3000 units of housing built and preserved by religious communities such as the Ursalines and Dominicans and the Sisters of Charity, Church-related community organizations and leadership of Msgr. Jenik, particularly in West Farms and Bedford Park.

“Less than a mile to the east on the Franklin Avenue Hill there is property that has been St. Augustine parish’s sacred worship space spanning three centuries,” Msgr. Sullivan added. “That worship community, though still vibrant, has become smaller and now worships in a neighboring parish church.

“That Church building was razed to prepare the site for affordable housing. It stands ready to be part of this initiative. This site will remain a sacred space because on it individuals and families will have a decent place to live, fulfill their potential and raise their families. Here human dignity will be honored and this space held sacred (by creating affordable housing for non-Catholics and Catholics alike.)

“Mr. Mayor, thank you for this initiative. Let’s get started.”

Pushing for Worker Safety

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Today, April 24, 2014, marks the tragic one-year anniversary of the worst disaster in garment industry history, the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed 1,129 workers.

Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan has taken an active role keeping this issue in the forefront.  He joined a delegation this past December that included New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, whose state pension investments include companies that contract with garment factories and Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union to Bangladesh to observe garment industry conditions and meet with survivors and the families of victims.  Msgr. Sullivan published his concerns on blog posts and more recently in a New York Times editorial co-authored with Mr. Appelbaum.

“All of us must help minimize the human casualties of our global economy and ensure that the dignity of working people doesn’t end up on the clearance rack,” they wrote.

In this recent episode of JustLove, Catholic Charities’ weekly radio show on Sirius XM Satellite Radio, The Catholic Channel 129, Msgr. Sullivan spoke again with Comptroller DiNapoli.

“It was a very moving experience,” DiNapoli said about their trip to Bangladesh, “with you, from the spiritual dimension and me from the investor side with our perspective… about social justice and worker rights.”

While western retailers and apparel brands are now pushing to improve safety at the Bangladesh factories they do business with, results, twelve months later, have fallen short.

Inspectors, The New York Times reports, have found problems in every factory they checked including, “buildings so overloaded that their columns had cracked, flammable fabric storage areas adjoining work spaces and fire stairways leading to the factory floor rather than outside the building.”

Second only to China, Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry employs between three and four million workers.  Its history of corruption and slipshod work leaves open the potential for still greater loss of life.

“These heart-wrenching tragedies are not a sustainable business model,” Mr. DiNapoli said.  “They cannot keep this industry going if people are going to be maimed, injured or killed.”

Learn more on JustLove.

Read the full story in The New York Times

 

Somos El Futuro – We Are the Future – Conference Rallies for Dream Act

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Mateo Tabares and two dozen other students chanted “Education not deportation” and similar slogans Saturday morning as they rallied at the Somos el Futuro conference on Saturday, March 22, 2014 at the Empire State Plaza in Albany,” reports Steve Barnes for TimesUnion.com.

They were shouting their support for the DREAM Act, a measure that would allow access to state financial aid for New York college students who are undocumented:

 

The bill likely would mean the difference between Tabares, an 18-year-old from Queens, being able to go to college full time or having to work 40 hours a week to pay tuition for only part-time classes, thus delaying his education, he said. Tabares was among a group of young people who traveled upstate to advocate for the DREAM Act during this weekend’s Somos El Futuro conference, a gathering of Latino lawmakers. The DREAM Act would benefit an estimated 8,000 students, proponents say.

Defeated in the state Senate on March 17 by a 30-29 vote — two short of the 32 needed for a majority — the bill is the subject of continuing negotiations. Supporters are pressuring Gov. Andrew Cuomo to include it in the state budget, which is due April 1.

(TimesUnion.com)

 

Msgr. Sullivan joined students, members of the state Senate and Assembly, labor leaders and others to discuss the DREAM Act and other key policy issues at the annual spring conference of Somos el Futuro, the New York State Assembly’s Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task force dedicated to creating opportunities for Hispanics through participation in public policy.

Read the full story in the Times Union.com.

Check out the New York State Catholic Conference’s New York State DREAM Act Memoradum of Support:

 

MEMORANDUM OF SUPPORT

Re: A.2597 Moya / S.2378 Peralta In Relation to New York State DREAM Act

The above-referenced legislation would create the New York DREAM Fund Commission and would provide opportunities for immigrant students who meet certain criteria to be eligible for financial aid to assist them attend institutions of higher education.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports the New York State DREAM Act, and strongly urges enactment of this legislation.

The bill is an attempt to allow young people who have demonstrated a commitment to education and who are of good moral character to access financial aid opportunities without regard to immigration status, and would create a mechanism to raise money for college scholarships for the children of immigrants. Other states have passed similar legislation and New York State, with its history of welcoming immigrants, should be at the forefront of these efforts to support immigrant populations who have contributed so much to the vitality of our state. The chance to earn a higher education degree will allow these immigrant students to realize their potential and make a greater contribution to our economy.

Currently immigrants receive elementary and secondary education without regard to their immigration status. Many of these children have lived in this country from a very early age and know no other country as home. However, once they have their high school diplomas in hand, they are often blocked from continuing their education for financial reasons. The Commission established by this bill would raise funds to provide scholarships to deserving students who would be required to have taken steps to regularize their immigration status. These students would also be eligible for other awards and scholarships that would advance their educational opportunities. Parents and family members of students would also be eligible to participate in the NYS College Savings Program with an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).

The Catholic Conference has long advocated for a comprehensive immigration reform package at the federal level that includes an earned legalization program, secure borders that reduce risk to individuals and change in the immigration system that promotes family unity. In the interim there are steps that can be taken at the state level to improve the current situation. This legislation is one such effort.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the New York State Catholic Conference have voiced support for the federal Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. Likewise, we support this legislation that we believe will afford deserving young immigrants an opportunity to pursue post-secondary education.

Hunger Shame

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

“While we’re a thriving metropolis that is proud of its rich culinary depth, New York has too many residents who are unable to even eat,” writes New York Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, in this editorial posted yesterday in the New York Daily News.

“More than a third of New Yorkers struggle to afford food. That means children are hungry at school, parents working multiple jobs cannot provide for their loved ones, and families must sometimes choose between putting food on the table and paying bills.

That should not be our New York. But since the Great Recession in 2008, food insecurity has been a growing reality. ..

A major tool in the fight against hunger is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps. More than 1.8 million New Yorkers receive food stamps, contributing $3.5 billion to the city’s economy. But there are hundreds of thousands of others who are eligible for this aid but don’t receive it. Providing more language translation, removing application barriers and coordinating outreach are measures we will focus on.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that every $1 in food stamps generates $1.79 in local economic activity. Not only are families suffering needlessly without access to these benefits, but low-income communities lose out on more than $1 billion each year in economic stimulus…

Reversing the tide against hunger will take a coordinated effort from lawmakers, community groups and everyday New Yorkers. Together, we can create an environment that reminds everyone why we are the greatest city on the planet: We look out for one another.”

Lilliam Barrios-Paoli

At Catholic Charities, “looking out for one another” is what we are all about.  For more than 100 years we have been fighting hunger and helping solve the problems of New Yorkers in need, non-Catholics and Catholics alike.  We help with emergency food programs throughout the City; including St. Jerome’s in the Bronx where Msgr. Sullivan pitched in to serve the hungry yesterday.

Recently, Msgr. Kevin Sullivan and fellow Catholic Charities representatives met with Deputy Mayor Barrios-Paoli.  We are working collaboratively with organizations across the City to intensively promote Food Stamp enrollment.  And we are assigning case management staff to enroll qualified New Yorkers receiving food at our pantries into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps.)

Are you, your children or your family hungry?  Call us at 888-744-7900

Or call the NYC 24- Hour Hunger Hotline at 1-866-NYC-FOOD (1-866-692-3663)

Help us fight hunger.

Read Deputy Mayor Barrios-Paoli’s full Op Ed in the New York Daily News.

Catholic Charities Joins Fellow Immigration Leaders for Day of Action in Albany

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

SJ Jung, board president of MinKwon Center for Community Action, speaks about need for increased funding for immigrant services. Left to right: Assemblyman Ron Kim; Claire Sylvan, president of the Internationals Network For Public Schools; Judy Wessler, Health Care Advocate, former director, CPHS; SJ Jung, president of Minkwon Center for Community Action; and Mario Russell, senior attorney for Catholic Charities, New York.

Catholic Charities joined 250 immigrants, community leaders, elected officials, and advocates in Albany earlier this month for the New York Immigration Coalition’s 17th Annual Albany Immigrants’ Day of Action. Delegation members including families, farm workers and “DREAMers” shared with nearly three dozen state legislators their experiences on issues faced by the four million immigrant New Yorkers.

The event offered an opportunity for one-on-one conversations about the value of the New York State DREAM Act – which was defeated in the New York State Senate by two votes on Monday, thus likely put on hold, at least for this year – and the need for increased funding for legal and social services for immigrants. Together the group presented NYIC’s Immigrant Equality Agenda.

Assembly members Marcos CrespoRon KimFrancisco P. MoyaFélix Ortiz, Luis Sepulveda and Senator José Peralta supported the group and joined a series of panel discussions on the priorities laid out by local communities.

Do you need immigration or resettlement assistance, hope to go to college, or have been defrauded by an immigration practitioner?

Call our New York State New Americans Hotline  at 800-566-7636.

Teens Trade in Washington Heights for Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Trading in their Washington Heights neighborhood for a tour of Washington, D.C., more than three dozen low-income teens checked out monuments and colleges in our nation’s capital during their recent winter break, thanks to Catholic Charities Community Services-Alianza Division.

The tour, funded through a grant from the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation and collaboration with the High School for Media & Communications and Catholic Charities Community Services-Alianza Division, offered the students a glimpse of a future outside their neighborhood, a reason to study, and a step-by-step outline of how to apply for and get accepted by top-tier universities.

The visit included stops at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Washington and Lincoln memorials, a tour of Georgetown, George Washington and Howard universities and photos and selfies in front of the White House.

The trip was one of – and many say the most fun – of numerous offerings  Catholic Charities Alianza Division offers young people in the Washington Heights school community.

All the offerings share the same goal:  to inspire students to dream big and give them the resources to make it happen.