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

Don’t Let a Judge’s Temporary Stay Get in Your Way: PREPARE NOW for Immigration Reform

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

You know the drill; the back and forth on immigration reform.

Don’t let it get in your way.

This time it was a Texas Judge Andrew Hanen’s recent ruling that put a temporary halt on President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration.

So instead of starting this month, changes in U.S. law to help immigrant parents, children, spouses, skilled workers will not kick off until later this year.

Get ready now!

Don’t be scammed: Do NOT give anyone money to help you in advance with an application!

Check out these flyers in multiple languages to learn what YOU need to know!

 Spanish · French · Korean  · Russian · Hindu

Call Catholic Charities at the New York State New Americans Hotline. That’s 1-800-566-7636

  • For more information,
  • Referral to a nonprofit legal service provider,
  • Community presentations
  • To report schemes and attempts to defraud immigrants

Catholic Charities Joins Protest Against Judge’s Last-Minute Kibosh on Immigration Reform

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

Immigrants and their supporters are rallying across New York to protest a judge’s Monday night order that stymies President Obama’s executive action to reform immigration policies.

“The ruling by a lower Federal Court in Texas, while disappointing, was neither surprising nor definitive,” said Msgr. Kevin Sullivan before a conference held in Manhattan at noon today.   “Catholic Charities will continue to outreach to the individuals and families who need to prepare for the important opportunities afforded by the President’s executive action and hopefully also for comprehensive immigration reform which remains a pressing need.”

He added his voice to that of elected officials, service providers and the newly arrived and personally affected who are speaking out against U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s ruling.

This ruling was particularly painful because it temporarily blocks the President’s  planned expansion of the Defered Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program  just a day before the program was set to go into effect.

It also blocks the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) set to begin in May 2015.

In New York more than 300,000 people qualify for these new programs.

“Catholic Charities focus ,” Msgr. Sullivan added, “is our legal and social services for new Americans, made in God’s image, who merit dignity and respect and the opportunity to provide basic human necessities for themselves and their families.”

New York City’s Municipal ID Is a Good for New Yorkers and Good for the City

Thursday, February 12th, 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. 

By C. Mario Russell

The week before last, New York City joined with the growing number of cities and communities–like Hartford, Connecticut, San Francisco, California, and, as just announced this week in Newark, New Jersey —a plan that will explore offering all their citizens, residents, and members a municipal identity card. This is something to celebrate as good for city residents and good for our city.

There are about 500,000 undocumented mothers, fathers, and children who live, work, and go to school in New York City. Each day they seek the basics: steady employment, a stable family, hope for the future, and security. For the most part they are unseen and unheard. But, like silent generations of immigrants before them, each day they bring new life to this city whose economic and cultural achievements we take such pride in. Each day they contribute to its magnificent legacy.

The new ID will give these New Yorkers a chance to run their day-to-day lives a little more easily. This is good for everyone. With these IDs people will be able to cash checks, open a bank or credit account, sign a lease, and enter public buildings. Parents will be able to access public schools for parent-teacher conferences. They won’t have to worry about being turned away from visiting their child in a hospital. These are not extravagant rights for the undocumented. Moreover, these municipal IDs make work easier for everyone else including teachers, merchants, and professionals.

One of the most important life-improvements that comes with the ID is legal identification in case of a law enforcement stop, such as an arrest.  When someone is questioned by the police, an officer will often ask to know who the person is. The card makes it easier for that identity check to happen in real-time and the encounter terminates there. Again, not an extravagant right, but it makes work easier for the police and protects people.

As was said by one long-time undocumented resident, “I’m basically invisible in this city without proper identification. My husband and I work hard every day; we have children and the security that something as simple as an ID card will give us cannot be overstated.” This is not an extravagant request; just a basic wish we all share and will benefit from.

Read this recent post in Spanish in “El Diario” now.

 

C. Mario Russell is Senior Attorney and Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities, 80 Maiden Lane, NY, NY 10038. He teaches immigration law at St. John’s University School of Law.

Migrant Children: A Four Part Series

Monday, February 9th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

Fifteen years old, hungry and alone, Elvis Garcia hitched rides, scrambled atop freight trains and dragged himself through 1,200 miles of deserts to reach his promised land, the United States.

Now this former unaccompanied minor works for Catholic Charities, helping fellow young immigrants survive  and thrive.

Catch this powerful 4-part News 12 series when it airs its first program today, Monday, February 9, 2015.

Immigration Reform Answers in Every Language

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

So many questions about immigration reform!

¡Tantas preguntas!

At Catholic Charities we have answers in nearly every language.

Join us today, Tuesday, Feb. 3, for an informational meeting held in Spanish at PS 20, 161 Park Avenue in Staten Island, to learn more about President Barack Obama’s immigration reforms.  Topics will include Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and more.

Top experts — including Catholic Charities, El Centro Inmigrante, the Mayor’s Office of Immigration Reform and more  –will be there to answer your questions.

Read all about it in silive.com.

Without a Lawyer in Immigration Court, Children Are Lost

Wednesday, January 28th, 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. 

By C. Mario Russell

Catholic Charities New York

Isabel, 16 years old and 4 months pregnant, fled Honduras with her aunt last April. They were on the run because Isabel’s boyfriend’s brother, a notorious gang leader, had assassinated Isabel’s mother weeks before and they feared retribution for having reported the murder to the police.

U.S. Immigration apprehended Isabel at the border and transferred her to the Bronx for deportation proceedings. Six months later, in October, I met Isabel, who was a very young, new mother. She had not yet seen an immigration judge and her asylum-filing deadline was about to pass. She had no lawyer.

Had Isabel crossed the border alone—like the 51,000 children who did so last year—she would have been placed in temporary shelter care with the Office of Refugee Resettlement. She would also have been given a legal orientation and consultation. She would have immediately seen a judge. And she might have been assigned a free lawyer through a federal program or through a collaborative legal defense program for Unaccompanied Minors in New York City. By some estimates, almost 50-percent of Unaccompanied Minors have a lawyer.

But Isabel is not an Unaccompanied Minor. She crossed the border with her aunt so the Department of Homeland Security labeled her an “accompanied” child. This means Isabel’s deportation case was put indefinitely on hold. She was not entitled to shelter care or to a legal orientation and she was not eligible for a free lawyer. Last year, over 68,000 children like Isabel—accompanied by family—were apprehended at the border. Little has been reported about these children.

But the consequences for children facing the court system alone are staggering. Unable to mount a case in their own defense—whether for asylum or special immigrant juvenile protection—they might permanently be disqualified because of missed filing deadlines and, as a result, ordered deported in absentia. A 2011 report from a panel headed by a federal judge found that immigrants with lawyers are five times more likely to win their cases than those who represent themselves. A recent analysis shows that 90-percent of children who have a lawyer appear in court. But without a lawyer, only 10-percent, most lacking the courage, knowledge or understanding of English and U.S. law, attend these key proceedings. This should not come as a surprise. What 16 year old facing deportation to a violence-filled country would show up in court without a lawyer to defend her?

Children facing life or death consequences in immigration court shouldn’t suffer because there is not enough legal assistance. While not every child may have a legal right to remain here, each deserves due process and legal representation in court. The U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause and the Immigration and Nationality Act’s provisions requiring a “full and fair hearing” before an immigration judge should require the government to provide all children with legal representation in their deportation hearings. Isabel and children like her deserve defense.

* Names have been changed

 

  1. Mario Russell is Senior Attorney and Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities, 80 Maiden Lane, NY, NY 10038. He teaches immigration law at St. John’s University School of Law.

Read this in Spanish now in El Diario.

Questions About President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration?

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

NEWAMERICANSHOTLINE-6By Alice Kenny

There are so many questions about President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration!

Who does it cover?
When does it start?
Where can you get advice?
How do you avoid hucksters defrauding those seeking help?

Check out our answers here in:
• English and Spanish
• Chinese

More questions or looking for a referral to a non-profit agency for free or low-cost advice on your immigration case?

Call our Catholic Charities operated New York State New Americans Hotline at 1 (800) 566-7636.

Alien or Human? You Decide

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

mario-msgr-protestAs we honor of National Migration Week, January 4 – 10, with this year’s theme, “We Are One Family Under God,” the weekly digest CMS Migration Update honored us by publishing as its lead story a public statement by C. Mario Russell, Esq., director of Catholic Charities Immigrant and Refugee Services.

Recognizing an immigrant’s humanity is a prerequisite for genuine legal reform, Mr. Russell says in this thought-provoking address he delivered to the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at St. John’s University.

“Congress can treat whom it wants, how it wants, when it wants, and if it wants to at all,” Mr. Russell says:

“So why does this dysfunction exist? In my view it is because the immigrant person—the alien—is not considered a ‘person’ in the fullest sense under the constitution, what I have referred to as our social charter. For over 300 years, since ‘we’ first arrived, we have conceived of aliens (even those within our borders) as just that—beings who are outside of our sphere, as ‘other,’ and therefore, as people with diminished status—both existentially and on paper. And, this destines us to repeat a mistake time and again—that of designing laws and policies that are always reactive, not planful, that are product of crisis, not of intention. And so long as this is true, future generations of immigrants in America will not find their right place in society.”

Join us in honoring National Migration Week and check out the full address here.

Catholic Charities’ Mario Russell Speaks About Immigration on NPR Radio

Friday, December 12th, 2014

“Crossing the U.S. Mexican border is a harrowing journey for many Central Americans,” reports Alexandra Starr on National Public Radio (NPR).

“More than 57,000 child migrants made that trip this year and many reported being physically and sexually abused.”

The State Department launched a program this month that creates a safe passage to the United States from Central America. It would give some U.S.-based Latino parents the chance to bring over children they left in their home countries…

Parents who want their children to interview to come to the U.S. will have to submit the requests through organizations like Catholic Charities.

Mario Russell, with Catholic Charities in New York, says he thinks this new program acknowledges how bad things are in some Central American countries.

“The old models, I think, by which families were divided, that is to say that some children stayed in the home country were raised by a grandparent, just don’t work anymore because the conditions have become really unsustainable, and that’s why I think they’re leaving in large measure,” Russell says.

Listen to the full program on NPR.

Day Laborer Holiday Celebration

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

poasadasMembers of Obreros Unidos, day laborers and their families served by Catholic Charities in Yonkers have begun Posadas, a Mexican Christmas season tradition that dramatizes the search of Joseph and Mary for lodging. They were joined this year by six monks from the Franciscan Friars of Renewal, three seminarians and a host of others including the Fátima choir from St. Peter Church.

So many joined along because they wanted to mark this special time for these laboring men and their families who, during the frigid winter and all year round, wait on street corners hoping for work.  During this holiday they talk, sing and pray as they carry a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe from home to home. Nine families chosen to host the statue place it on uniquely decorated alters.  After that, they share personal prayers, the Holy Spirit and a welcome for their fellow travelers.

During the feast, they share a little about their current hardships, challenges, and hopes for the future. This process continues night after night until December 12, the date the Virgin of Guadalupe is commemorated and put to rest at St. Peters Parish.

“The goal of the Posadas, aside from the commemoration and ability to celebrate a tradition, was to create another environment where workers could unite, share their beliefs, and discuss their challenges,” says Catholic Charities Day Laborer Organizer Janet Hernández.