Archive for the ‘Welcoming and Integrating Immigrants and Refugees’ Category

Largest Free Legal Screening Event on Deferred Action Just Held in NYC

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

CRAIG WARGA/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

By Alice Kenny

More than 600 people, mostly immigrants desperate for honest information on immigration reform, packed Temple Emanu-El on East 65th Street City for free legal screenings on Sunday, April 12, 2015.  Catholic Charities joined fellow not-for-profit immigration service providers and New York City in organizing and staffing this event with over 300 volunteers–including experienced immigration attorneys, administrative staff, interpreters, and law students–to deliver quality advice about immigration options.

The event was held to combat scammers and cheaters including “notarios” (immigration service providers) that have flooded the immigrant community with false promises of help with President Obama’s Executive Action program. But the President’s program is still on hold as opponents duke it out in the courts.

Sunday’s event, considered the first large-scale information/assistance event of its kind in New York City, is our way of fighting back.

“The range of cases was as broad as it was challenging,” says Mario Russell, director of Catholic Charities Immigrant and Refugee Services, “but we seemed to meet so expertly all the questions and needs presented.”

Attendees received clear information in their native tongues about the status of executive action.  They also received individual screenings to learn if they may qualify for various types of immigration relief.  Screenings focused on President Obama’s proposed Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA).  DACA focuses on those who entered the U.S. before age 16.  DAPA focuses on persons without documentation who were here on Jan. 1, 2010 and had a U.S. citizen or permanent resident child born on or before Nov. 20, 2014.

Missed this big event and still need help?

We’re holding free immigration legal screenings across the New York archdiocese.

For more information call Catholic Charities at the free New York State New Americans Hotline at 800- 566-7636.

Read more in the Daily News

Don’t Be Scammed

Friday, April 10th, 2015


The premier Spanish-language newspaper “El Diario” turns to Catholic Charities Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services C. Mario Russell for regular updates on immigration reform.

Learn this week in El Diario – and below — about how to avoid immigration scams.

By C. Mario Russell

As we wait to hear what will happen to the Texas court decision that blocks President Obama’s Executive Action program on immigration, scammers and cheaters have already begun moving in. In early March, the Queens District Attorney arrested a travel agent for stealing thousands of dollars from an undocumented immigrant. The travel agent stole the victim’s cash with false promises of getting him immigration status.

Immigration fraud comes in many forms.  Sometimes it is in the form of a notario or an “immigration service provider” who makes false promises of help to get a work permit or a green card.  Other times it comes in the form of an attorney who promises to do work for you and never does it, or someone who claims to be an attorney but who is not.  Going to the wrong person for help can put your immigration case at risk and filing the wrong application can make it more difficult for you to obtain relief later on.

So if you are unsure about your immigration case or you want help getting connected to the right assistance, here are some things you can do:

  1. Get a free screening from a trustworthy immigration attorney. 
    On Sunday, April 12, New York City legal services agencies and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs will hold a free Immigration Legal Screening event where an experienced immigration attorney can advise you about your immigration options.  Call Catholic Charities for an appointment: (212) 419-3700 Mon-Fri 9am-8pm.

  2. Don’t believe any offer to apply for Executive Action programs.
    These programs are not available yet. But if you think you might be eligible, you can start preparing your documents now.  A presentation on how to prepare your documents—including a free booklet guide—will be offered at the April 12 screening event. Remember, only lawyers and certain licensed representatives can give advice and assistance on immigration matters.
  3. Call the New Americans Hotline for free confidential help.
    If you’ve been scammed before or need more information about immigration issues or to get a referral for assistance from a local community-based organization, call the free New York State New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636.

Read the full post in El Diario.

 

Mario Russell is Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities, 80 Maiden Lane NYC and teaches immigration law at St. John’s University School of Law.

Catholic Charities Fights for Fair Pay

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Over 100 Advocate and Community Groups including Hazel Dukes of NAACP, Beth Finkel of AARP and Kevin Sullivan of Catholic Charities join “Fight for Fair Pay” Campaign, reports WENY News.

They joined 85 business and 86 faith-based leaders across New York to support for the Governor’s Fight for Fair Pay campaign that would raise minimum wage to $10.50 statewide and $11.50 in New York City.

An increase in the minimum would lift more than 100,000 New Yorkers out of poverty.

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York told WENY News that “Catholic Charities sees firsthand, every day the needs of working men and women who are struggling to provide for their families… Too many are working more than one minimum-wage job.

“Raising the minimum wage affords working families a better opportunity to pay the rent, put a decent meal on the table and meet other basic needs.

“As a recent study commissioned by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, UJA-Federation, and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York demonstrates, raising the minimum wage would have a significant impact on reducing poverty in New York.

“Decent work with decent wages is critical for all New Yorkers to live their lives in dignity.”

Check out the full story on WENY News.

What Is Hope?

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
“There’s always hope that there is something better in life.”

Every year we share what hope means to us during the Easter season.

This year we want to know what hope means to you.

Many New Yorkers we met already helped us take on the challenge.

You can, too.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing stories of hope on Facebook.

We’d love to know what you think it means. Send us your photos on Facebook or Twitter by mentioning Catholic Charities NY or using hashtag #WhatIsHope.

You can also email us at CatholicCharitiesMedia@archny.org

How to Fight Confusion on Immigration Reform

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

driptychBy Alice Kenny

As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie joined three governors in filing a brief on Monday, March 23, 2015 to push back against President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, Catholic Charities teamed with nonprofit providers to continue to push forward, informing those who could benefit from the President’s plan about the ins and outs of administrative relief.

Immigration attorneys, social  workers  and fellow experts met with 300 people in the heavily Hispanic community of Port Chester in Westchester County at the Don Bosco Workers Community Center.

During the meeting Catholic Charities’ legal team provided information about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and Expanded DACA program.

The attorneys also cautioned attendees to stay away from individuals such as “notaries” who may charge high fees for fabricated applications for immigration status.

With so much conflict in the press and on the ground it’s easy to get confused.

Do you have immigration questions?

Call the Catholic Charities operated New Americans Hotline at
1 (800) 566-7636(NYS)  (212) 413–3737 (other states).

 

 

Six Reasons Cardinal Dolan Blessed Our Immigrant & Refugee Services

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

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In a special event held to bless our work with new immigrants and the central site where this work is carried out, Cardinal Timothy Dolan met, greeted and blessed staff, new immigrants and the Catholic Charities Immigrant and Refugee Services Division at its new location at 80 Maiden Lane yesterday, March 18.

The Division relocated to this downtown Manhattan site in December 2013 to accommodate Catholic Charities’ growing immigration services that respond to the expanding needs of this community. This new location — located near immigration courts, the USCIS office, colleague agencies and a transportation hub for those seeking our assistance from all parts of New York City — has proven ideal for clients and staff alike.

It allows us to serve 100s of individuals who come to us for help each month and provides space for meetings and special initiatives.

As staff shared with Cardinal Dolan, our immigration team has a lot to brag about. The team:

 1.  Leads the regional case management, legal and resettlement response and care for the influx of unaccompanied Central American children.

2.  Helped orchestrate the successful “Terra Firma” medical-legal partnership program for unaccompanied children.

3.  Mobilized a team of more than 30 lawyers and support staff to help educate more than 800 immigrants at multiple parish and community centers in area that spans from Staten Island to upstate Kingston, NY about how they can benefit from President Obama’s Executive Action immigration reforms.

4.  Collaborated in the NYC-wide mass screening event for administrative relief (DAPA/DACA) scheduled for April 12, 2015.

5.  Prepared for the upcoming conference, “Responding to the Needs of Immigrants and Immigrant Families in New York State,” scheduled for March 25, 2015 with more than 300 career professionals already scheduled to attend.

6.  Expanded anti-fraud partnerships with district attorney offices and partners in New York City and state.

Cardinal Dolan shared his hallmark hugs, quips and high fives with staff and those we serve as he toured our legal, services for minors, English and Cultural Instruction and phone hotline programs before blessing staff, friends of Catholic Charities and the many individuals and families who come for help.

View this Facebook album of the event now.

Women Bought and Sold

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

El diario

The premier Spanish-language newspaper “El Diario” turns to Catholic Charities Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services C. Mario Russell for regular updates on immigration reform.

Learn this week in El Diario – and below — about the grotesque reality of human trafficking.

By C. Mario Russell

March is filled with days that should be considered so much more than Hallmark holidays.  It has been designated as Women’s History Month; March 8th celebrated International Women’s Day and March 25th is marked as an International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery. These are important dates designed to recognize the woman for her profound place in the human community and to remember in solidarity the deep wounds she bears at the hands of that community.

Yet these wounds continue, particularly in the world of immigration.

For example, we soon will come upon another important marker: the one-year-anniversary of the mass abduction of 276 schoolgirls by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram in Nigeria when, according to Human Rights Watch, children were taken into captivity and sold into marriage, forced to convert from their religion, and made to endure physical and psychological abuse, forced labor, and rape.

Unfortunately, there are other examples as well that are far too close to home. Evelyn, 21, a top ranked student in her native country, was lured from Cameroon into the U.S. by a rich Maryland couple who promised her a bright future and a top-rate education. Instead, she was given no education and forced into servitude for the wealthy couple. And just this January 2015, Cristina Andres pleaded guilty to two counts of commercial sex trafficking. She was prosecuted for recruiting two girls, ages 13 and 17 at the time, with promises of a job in a Nashville restaurant. Instead, she used physical force and threats against the victims and their families to keep the girls in brothels in Memphis and Nashville.

The market for buying and selling of humans is sophisticated and robust, and only occasionally do publicized scenes like these force us to enter into its grotesque and brutal reality.

(more…)

Check out this Pipe Band Marching Down 5th Ave.

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

By Alice Kenny
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

There’s no better way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than to hear a pipe band marching down Fifth Avenue.
And there’s no better group to celebrate with than us here at Catholic Charities.

Are you an Irish emigrant looking for help?
• Today and every day our Project Irish Outreach offers the Irish community advice, counseling and support services.
• For Irish emigration support, contact us at 914-237-5098 or Sr.Christine.hennessy@archny.org

Or are you just looking for the best way to celebrate the big day?

Check out this live pipe band:

And may you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live.

Tap the Brains of Immigration Experts

Monday, March 16th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

Perplexed by Executive Action initiatives, counter suits and new immigrants’ overwhelming needs?

Join us on March 25, 2015 at the Sheen Center in New York City as Catholic Charities teams up with fellow leading immigration service providers.  Address challenges immigrant families face. Explore the evolving response of those who serve them.

More than 300 directors, counselors, professors, attorneys and fellow professional are already enrolled.

Sponsored by Catholic Charities, Catholic Migration Services and Center for Migration studies, the all-day event:

  • Places these challenges in a broader policy, moral and demographic context
  • Describes the coordinated response to immigrants in the New York metropolitan area
  • Identifies lessons, success and continued challenges in responding to the populations and to immigrant families

Check out our agenda for more information

It’s free! Sign up now while there is still room.

 

President & Congress Guide Immigration Law — Not Texas Judge

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

El Diario, the premier Spanish-language newspaper, turns to Catholic Charities Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services C. Mario Russell for regular updates on immigration reform.

Questions about the impact of Texas Judge Andrew Hanen on immigration reform?

Read Mr. Russell’s latest El Diario column below:

By C. Mario Russell

The lawsuit brought by Texas and 25 other states against President Obama’s Deferred Action program for 4.7 million undocumented immigrants was bound to draw the attention of the federal courts. And with over 670 federal judges in the United States, one of them—Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, Texas—was bound to find a reason disagree with the President. Because, in his view, Texas would have to absorb the cost of issuing more state driver’s licenses to immigrants who qualified for Deferred Action, last week Judge Hanen ordered that the programs be put on hold. This was to be expected.

On Monday, lawyers for the government filed court papers requesting that the judge’s decision be reversed and that the federal programs immediately be allowed to go forward. This also was to be expected.

This litigation back-and-forth will last for a while, with more preliminary legal battles and more substantive decisions to come from the judge and from the Court of Appeals. Some of the decisions will be appealed further, possibly to the Supreme Court of the United States, which would have the last word. This, too, is to be expected.

(more…)