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

New Immigrant ID Bill – A Door Opener for Immigrants

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

immmigrationidcardThe Municipal ID Bill  designed to help immigrants that was just passed by the New York City Council will become law as soon as it is signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The bill allows NYC residents who can prove residency and identity to obtain a municipal ID card that would permit them to access governmental services such as entering public buildings, obtain a library card, open a bank account and gain access to hospitals to visit patients and to schools to meet with their children’s teachers.

The bill is designed to primarily benefit NYC’s immigrants who face barriers to accessing a government issued form of identification. Similar programs have been implemented in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New Haven.

The Municipal ID program will probably be administered by the Human Resources Administration.  The plan is to have at least one site in each borough where applications will be made available for pick-up and submission. Documents will be required to prove identity and NYC residency.

The law should take effect soon –  six months after it is signed into law by the Mayor.  The administrating agency is permitted to establish a fee for applications for the ID card but will adopt rules permitting residents who cannot afford to pay such a fee to receive a full or partial waiver.

For information about the Municipal ID application process – once it becomes available – or if you have a question about an immigration matter, call the Catholic Charities–managed New York State New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636, Monday through Friday, from 9am to 8pm. Hotline operators can answer questions in up to 200 languages.

 

Through Monopoly, Clue and Scrabble, Immigrants Learn How to Spell “SUCCESS”

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

DDAY Monopoly International CenterBy Alice Kenny

On June 6, 160 volunteers from the national consulting firm Deloitte fanned out to more than a dozen separate site locations affiliated with Catholic Charities. Below is the third installment in a series about their adventures and a glimpse at the large amount that together we can accomplish.

Who was the murderer, Professor Plum or Colonel Mustard? And who was the winner, the guy who kept passing “Go” to collect $200 or the luckless fellow sent straight to jail?

Thirty recently arrived immigrants faced off against 14 Deloitte volunteers with Monopoly, Clue, and fellow board games favorites to find out. They played for four hours straight — barely breaking for their catered lunch — motivated as much by winning as by the chance to polish their English and learn about American culture.

For just $250 — the cost of six board games and lunch — plus invaluable time donated by Deloitte staff, Deloitte underwrote a day of play at Catholic Charities New International Center, a day that broke down barriers and a day that few who were there will forget.
Located at 80 Maiden Lane in downtown Manhattan, the International Center offers job readiness, English language and educational enrichment opportunities.

Surge in Child Migrants Reaches New York, Overwhelming Advocates

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

By Kirk Semple
The New York Times

“For more than a month, 16-year-old Cristian threaded his way from his home in rural Guatemala to the United States, hoping to reunite with his father, whom he had not seen in nearly four years. Guided by smugglers, he rode in cars, buses and trains, walked countless miles, dodged the authorities in three countries, hid out in dreary safe houses and went days at a time without food.

But Cristian’s trip came to an abrupt halt in March, when he was corralled on a patch of Texas ranchland by American law enforcements agents,” writes Kirk Semple today, June 18, 2014, in The New York Times.

Read more of The New York Times story below.  Learn the key role Catholic Charities holds helping young immigrants in need.

Now the daunting trials of his migration have been replaced by a new set of difficulties. Though he was released to his father, a kitchen worker in a restaurant in Ulster County, N.Y., Cristian has been ordered to appear in immigration court for a deportation hearing and is trying to find a low-cost lawyer to take his case while he also struggles to learn English, fit into a new high school and reacquaint himself with his father.

…Beyond legal help, the immigrants have other urgent needs that are not necessarily being met, including health care, psychological counseling and educational support, advocates said.

Mario Russell, director of the Immigrant and Refugee Services Division for Catholic Charities Community Services in New York, said a lot of the children had suffered trauma, either in their home countries or en route to the United States.

‘Over time, how do these kids receive the care that they need?’ Mr. Russell asked. ‘How many will be lost into their communities? How many are going to be sent to work? How many will not go to school? How many are going to be sick?’

Service providers have begun discussing among themselves how to deal with the surge at this end of the pipeline, and wondering where they might get much-needed funding to provide additional help for the growing population of distressed immigrant children.

As he considered the challenge, Mr. Russell remembered a case he had several years ago. He had been working with a girl, an unauthorized immigrant, to legalize her status. Her deportation was dismissed and she was finally approved to receive a green card. But before she received it, she dropped off Mr. Russell’s radar.

‘She just disappeared,’ he recalled. ‘She could’ve been trafficked, working in an apple orchard. I have no idea.’

Mr. Russell was never able to locate her.

‘Her card is still in my desk,’ he said.

Read the full story in The New York Times.

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.

Homeland Security Announces Big Opportunity for Undocumented Immigrant Youth

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Deferred Action Intake Session-48_editThe Secretary of Homeland Security recently announced that undocumented immigrant youth who have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status (DACA) can renew that status for another  two years.

For the past two years, immigrant youth who met specific criteria* including coming to the United States before age 16 and residing continuously in the US since June 15, 2007 have been eligible for DACA status. This allowed them to receive work permits for two years, as well as driver licenses and social security numbers. In some states, they would also be eligible for in-state tuition.

The big news is that those who have already been granted DACA can now apply to extend their DACA status and work permits for an additional two years. Those who qualify but have never applied for DACA before, can continue to apply on a rolling basis. There is no deadline for initial applications.

Sounds complicated?  Call the Catholic Charities–managed New York State New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636 for more information and referral to an agency that can help.

Here at Catholic Charities we are prepared to help with the renewal process as well as with enrolling first-time applicants.

 

Contact us to:

  • Avoid scams.
  • Understand eligibility.
  • Obtain correct information about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

*Click here to learn more about DACA eligibility.

“It is crucial to get the correct information about DACA and the renewal or initial application process and, for those who need legal assistance, to obtain referrals to reliable not-for-profit programs that provide free services,” said Raluca Oncioiu, director of Immigration Legal Services for Catholic Charities Community Services.

Immigrant Public Defender System Pays for Itself

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Celine and Refugee Family 002“Every year, tens of thousands of people appear in immigration court to fight deportation orders without a lawyer to assist them,” writes Reporter Kirk Semple in a recent article published in The New York Times. “Many are poor and adrift, unable to speak English or understand the laws determining their fate.”

Yet according to a study just released by the New York Bar Association that Mr. Semple describes, a system that provided legal counsel for every poor immigrant facing deportation would pay for itself through decreased government expenditures and other savings.

“It makes the argument for the first time that appointed counsel is cost-effective, as well as being fair and just,” said Mark Noferi, a fellow at the Center for Migration Studies, who advised National Economic Research Associates (NERA) on the report.

Catholic Charities knows firsthand the value of providing free or affordable legal counsel. For over thirty years, Catholic Charities has stood with New York’s immigrants—low-income and indigent, non-Catholics and Catholics alike—who face deportation in the courts, in local detention facilities, and, most recently, in custodial shelters for unaccompanied children where we serve almost 2,000 children each year.

We understand that deportation can be a far worse punishment than most criminal penalties, one that might mean the loss of family, home and security. Every week, in shelter facilities for unaccompanied youth across the New York area, our team of lawyers and paralegals encounter many of the thousands of children in the United States who have fled alone, from abuse and violence in their homelands and who seek the comfort of a parent or loved one here.

Every month at our offices downtown, we meet and defend newcomers and long-time residents against unjust deportation proceedings. Some had all their money taken by unscrupulous or unlawful practitioners.  Some have been tangled for years in a legal system that is among the most complex and under-resourced in the nation. Some are profoundly disoriented from just arriving to the United States after fleeing persecution or violence. Almost all are exhausted and without hope.

The legal consultation, representation, and assistance Catholic Charities provides  each day is what immigrants need to rebuild their lives. It is what creates hope and a just and compassionate society.

Services are provided in English, Spanish, French, Romanian, Polish, Albanian, Japanese, and Arabic.

All matters are treated professionally and confidentially.

If you have a question about an immigration matter, please call us at the New Americans Hotline at 800-566-7636.

For help finding other services, please call our Catholic Charities Help line at 888-744-7900.

Read the full cost-analysis study.

Read the full story in The New York Times.

 

Wonder What Cardinal Dolan Ponders in the Confessional?

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Who can resist Sharon Otterman’s tease this weekend in The New York Times?

“If you ever wondered what Cardinal Dolan might ponder in the confessional,” she writes, “read on.”

Wonder about our New York Archbishop’s inner thoughts?

How has Pope Francis inspired him?

How does this impact our diocese’ focus — carried out through Catholic Charities — on the key issues of poverty, inequality, prison ministry and immigration?

Your questions are answered thanks to this in-depth Q and A with Cardinal Dolan published this weekend in The New York Times:

Q.

Are you, or is the diocese as a whole, increasing focus on issues such as poverty, inequality, prison ministry and immigration?

A.

I think what has happened is that Pope Francis has made it easier for us to be heard on these issues! He has inspired many people to think more about how we care for one another, especially the “least among us.” The bishops of this country have been a leading voice on immigration reform, for many years.

I get a lot of criticism that we bishops preach too much about the immigrant, the poor, the sick, the economy. These are all areas in which the Archdiocese of New York has always been enthusiastically involved…It’s my responsibility to carry that on, just as it is my responsibility to continue and expand our work in charity, education, health care. Yes, Francis inspires me in this regard, as he has inspired people everywhere. That’s a great gift he has given us.

For more than a century, Catholic Charities has helped solve the problems of New Yorkers in need – non-Catholics and Catholics alike. The homeless family, the prisoner and the immigrant are among those for whom we provide help and create hope. We rebuild lives and touch almost every human need promptly, locally, day in and day out, always with compassion and dignity. We help your neighbors as you would like to be helped if your family were in need.

 

Download a PDF version of Catholic Charities At-A-Glance  for a look at what we do in any given year for those in need.

Read the full interview with Cardinal Dolan in The New York Times.

 

 

 

 

 

He Knows How Bad It Can Get: Former Undocumented Minor Reaches Out to Others

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

By Alice Kenny

image001

Photo credit: Naperville Sun – Elvis Garcia (L) as forward for Naperville North High School, Naperville, Illinois.

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

His native Honduras had turned into a wasteland where teenage gangs held shootouts on village streets. Nearly half the nation’s full-time workers earn less than the minimum wage. Many work full time yet earn just $5 per day. Children have little to do but play pick-up soccer games with deflated balls. Many parents are MIA, some raped and killed, others fleeing in search of better lives.

Now, after nine years that included 49 days in a stifling El Paso, Texas detention center, helping hands from strangers and success in school and on the soccer field, Elvis counts himself among the lucky. Once an unaccompanied, undocumented minor, Elvis today is a U.S. citizen. He graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And he now works as a Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Services case manager and part-time soccer coach for a team of U.S. citizens and undocumented teens.

Elvis’ experience as a former unaccompanied minor and now a mentor to them offers a rare glimpse into challenges faced, possibilities for life-transforming success or abject failure and how help as small as a soccer ball or as big as legal team can make all the difference.

“In a nation that prides itself on the fact that everyone accused of a crime – murderers, rapists – has a right to a lawyer, undocumented immigrants, even when they are unaccompanied children, are not entitled to a public defender,” writes reporter Sonia Nazario in The New York Times. “These children – some as young as 2 years old – have no one to help them.”

Well, not no one. Fortunately for Elvis, a family he met agreed to sponsor him towards citizenship. And fortunately for a growing group of a young New Yorkers, Catholic Charities is stepping in to offer comprehensive support. Its immigration and refugee services staff helps apprehended unaccompanied children. They provide free legal representation. They offer case management support. And now, through a growing medical-legal partnership, they look out for the whole child, from giving needed immunizations to offering sports and a social life that help children stay in school and out of trouble.

Elvis is part of the team of Catholic Charities immigration specialists that provide this support. And while he values the key case management services he offers these lonely unaccompanied teens, some of his favorite, most valuable hours, he says, are the ones he spends volunteering each week coaching Saturday Soccer with teens from the Medical-Legal Partnership Immigrant Youth Clinic.

A joint partnership between Catholic Charities and Montefiore Hospital Community Pediatrics Children’s Health Programs, the clinic provides free medical, legal and mental health services to unaccompanied immigrant youth in the Bronx, regardless of immigration status. The program has now expanded to include Saturday Soccer through a partnership with South Bronx United, a non-profit in the South Bronx dedicated to fostering social change and academic achievement on and off the soccer field.

“Like me, a lot of these kids came to this country with no knowledge of the language and culture,” Elvis says as he kicks a ball on the team’s soccer field near Yankee Stadium in the South Bronx. “Soccer is something we know, something we did every day. Soccer is something we can relate to where everything else is new and different.”

Learn more about Catholic Charities Immigrant and Refugee Services.

Making a Living Should Not Include Dying

Monday, April 28th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Workers' Option 2

Image from TUC

Workers’ Memorial Day, observed every year since the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) was established on April 28 1971, is a day to honor those workers who have died on the job, acknowledge the grievous suffering experienced by families and communities, and recommit ourselves to the fight for safe and healthful workplaces for all workers.

To promote worker safety, Catholic Charities is offering a 10-hour OSHA Outreach Training Program for entry- level  - this Saturday and Sunday, May 3 and May 4.  Taught in English and Spanish, the course helps workers become knowledgeable about workplace hazards and contribute to our nation’s productivity.

The program provides training on the recognition, avoidance, abatement and prevention of safety and health hazards in workplaces. It also provides information regarding workers’ rights, employer responsibilities, and how to file a complaint.

Join us:

  • This Saturday, May 3 from 4 – 9:30 p.m. in the San Pedro Church basement, 91 Ludlow St, Yonkers, NY
  • And  this Sunday, May 4, from 12 – 5:30 p.m. in San Pedro School, 204 Hawthorne Ave., Yonkers, NY

Space is limited so reserve your seat now.

*This course is part of Catholic Charities’ ongoing involvement with Obreros Unidos of Yonkers.  Catholic Charities educates this group of day laborers about employment rights and responsibilities.  It provides assistance to prevent exploitation and workplace abuses including help with collecting unpaid wages. It assists with integrating workers into society.  It provides local resources including access to healthcare, emergency food and identification cards.  And it offers a meeting space along with English as a Second Language and computer classes to help immigrants with their goal of acclimating and contributing to their new homeland.

For more information call Janet Hernandez 917.579.9048 or Wilson Terrero 914-963-1730 x 227

Create Hope This Easter

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Easter shows us that pain and suffering is not the final word. There is triumph. There is hope.

We’re here to bring new life to New Yorkers in need that conquers pain, sadness and suffering.

Join us.

Provide help. Create hope.

Transform lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Inside Peek into a Volunteer’s Mantra and Motivation

Friday, April 11th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Catholic Charities is rounding out National Volunteer Week, April 6-12, 2014, with a special interview on our Catholic Charities JustLove radio program with Takouhi Mosoian.

“At Catholic Charities, you can see the older volunteers foreshadow what the younger volunteers will be doing later,” says Ms. Mosoian who volunteered for Catholic Charities and now works in our Community & Social Development Department.

“It’s a dedicated group of people and they love what they do.”

Listen to this recent episode as the show’s host, Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, interviews Ms. Mosoian about what motivated her to volunteer for Catholic Charities.

“When I graduated high school, we had a motto that went ‘leave your community better than you found it.’ That’s something that has always stuck with me.”

Please join us during National Volunteer Week and every week to help leave our community better than we found it.

Looking for a volunteer opportunity tailored just for you?

Tune in to JustLove on The Catholic Channel 129, SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio.