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

Catholic Charities Statement on President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration

Friday, November 21st, 2014
07_StCatholic Charities, along with Catholic parishes and schools has long welcomed immigrants to our country and most especially to New York. We have helped new Americans adapt to their new home with a sense of dignity and respect. Given this experience, we have been at the forefront of advocating for legislation that  comprehensively reforms a broken immigration system to create fair and humane resettlement and integration for those coming to our country. Because of this, we have been saddened again and again by the failure of Congress to pass such critically needed legislation.In light of this failure, we are encouraged by President Obama’s executive action that deals with one part of immigration reform that is at the heart of Catholic Charities advocacy – the unity of the family.  By this order, millions of children who are citizens or permanent legal residents of the United States will be protected from suddenly having their parents taken from them and deported. Vulnerability and fear is reduced for millions by this action.  Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York highlighted this point from his own personal experience:

“Let me tell you a tale of two Sundays that I personally witnessed. The first Sunday a family of four was praying in my parish church. The next Sunday it was a family of three. The father and breadwinner was deported for a minor infraction that occurred almost a decade earlier.  The wife and mother was alone and the children now without their father.  No one benefited – not the family and not the nation.”  An executive action might have protected the unity and ensured the stability of this family.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York stands ready to help eligible immigrants respond to this new opportunity.  We will provide accurate and timely information through our New Americans Hotline.  We will also assist immigrants to comply with the provisions of this executive order so they can obtain the new protections and authorizations it affords.

While we are positive about the protections afforded vulnerable families by this executive order, there is undoubtedly more work to be done.  We continue to maintain that comprehensive immigration reform is necessary and thus advocating for such will be an ongoing part of Catholic Charities’ efforts.

Looking for immigration assistance?  Call us at the New York State (NYS) New Americans Hotline: 1-800-566-7636 (Toll-free in NYS)

New Ladies of Charity

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of archdiocesan Catholic Charities, installs a new member of the Ladies of Charity of New York during the annual Mass and Affiliation Ceremony in the Lady Chapel of St. Patrick’s Cathedral Oct. 18.

“From the way the newly installed president of the Ladies of Charity explained the mission of the organization, there are thousands of potential Ladies of Charity in the world,” writes Juliann Dos Santos in this recent issue of Catholic New York. “They just may not know it yet.”

But 19 new affiliates now know it well as Catholic Charities Executive Msgr. Kevin Sullivan added their names to the rolls of this laywoman’s Catholic Charities affiliated organization committed to serve the poor at an installation Mass held in the Lady Chapel of St. Patrick’s Cathedral on October 18.

The president, Nancy C. Waters, who was also installed at the Mass and ceremony, was speaking of the type of work with which the Ladies of Charity are involved.

‘Whenever a woman offers tea or speaks to a lonely neighbor, stops to assist a homeless person or even holds a door open for a mother struggling with a stroller, she is acting as a Lady of Charity,’ Ms. Waters explained.

‘Life is filled with Lady of Charity moments,’ she said.

The organization itself was co-founded in 1617 by St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac. It also carries on the spirit of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Service is done in a Vincentian way of helping the poor and the marginalized materially and spiritually.

Read the full story in Catholic New York.

Interested in becoming a Lady of Charity? Call (212) 371-1011, ext. 2542.

Help for Custodians of Immigrant Children

Monday, October 27th, 2014

GOSHEN - Catholic Charities Community Services hosted a special information session to discuss the legal orientation, concerns, and obligations for individuals who are serving as custodians of unaccompanied alien children,” reports the Hudson Valley Press.

The free program was held at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center and open to anyone looking to learn more about the legal remedies and options available to undocumented immigrant minors and their custodians…

“Through this program, Catholic Charities and our program partners hope to clear up some of the confusion and make the transition easier for both the youth and the custodians who are responsible for them,” said Dr. Dean Scher, Executive Director of Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange County.

Topics covered included navigating the immigration court process, legal remedies, and options for undocumented immigrant minors and their custodians. Attendees were also provided with information about the broad spectrum of human service programs available through Catholic Charities in Orange County and the greater Hudson Valley region, including substance abuse treatment and prevention, case management, parish food pantries, resource exchange, and the housing resource center.

Read the full story in the Hudson Valley Press.

Do you need immigration help?

  • Call The New York State New Americans Hotline administered by Catholic Charities at 1-800-566-7636.
  • The national LOPC (Legal Orientation for Parents and Custodians) Children’s Call Center at 1-888-996-3848 (9 am – 8 pm weekdays). This line is staffed by Spanish-speaking counselors.

Information and assistance is also available at all Catholic Charities’ offices including our Office for New Americans located within the Newburgh Armory Unity Center at 321 S William Street, Newburgh.

Immigrants Defrauding Fellow Immigrants

Monday, October 20th, 2014

tiempo

Tune in to Tiempo on ABC7 for its round-table discussion with Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan and New York Immigration Coalition Associate Oriana Sanchez about New York State’s comprehensive effort to fight growing fraud perpetrated against immigrants.

The fraud takes place most often, they say, between established immigrants against the recently arrived. Frequently “notarios,” Spanish-speaking immigrants certified to serve as notary publics, pretend to be attorneys, charge recent immigrants thousands of dollars to help them obtain legal status and then disappear with the money.

Catholic Charities New Americans Hotline helps fight against fraud along with answering more than 20,000 other immigration calls for help each year in more than 20 languages.

“Since July we’ve gotten 31 calls (from defrauded immigrants) that we’ve turned over to authority,” Msgr. Sullivan says.

“All the things we’ve talked about in terms of fraud just point out how much we have to reform the immigration laws in our country comprehensively so that immigrants get a good deal; so that we can have a place which is welcoming but which is law abiding and in which people can make a contribution to making this a better place.”

Watch the full Tiempo show aired Sunday, October 19, 2014, on ABC7.

Need help? Call the New York State Immigration Hotline administered by Catholic Charities at 800-566-7636.

A Day on a New York City “Rocket Docket”

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

“The minors and their guardians sit in the fluorescent-lit room and stare at the sketch on the whiteboard,” reports the Latin America News Dispatch.

The image represents a map of Mexico and the U.S. separated by a line: the border. Elvis Garcia Callejas, a case manager with Catholic Charities, presides over the information session.

“So, you all crossed that line and that’s why you’re sitting here, right?” Callejas asks the group. A few sheepishly smile while others are busy texting on their phones.

A native of Honduras, Callejas was an undocumented minor himself before gaining citizenship. He understands the trauma many of the people in front of him experienced as well as the legal options available. In his rapid-fire Spanish presentation peppered with plenty of jokes, Callejas aims to provide the minors with necessary information while also putting them at ease before their impending deportation hearings.

At one point Callejas likens immigration officers to iguanas because of their green uniforms. At another, he explains how the inside of a courtroom looks like a church and is “just as boring.” By the end of the session minors and their guardians are chuckling along. Not only does Callejas speak the vernacular, but he is well rehearsed: he holds an identical session weekly at 26 Federal Plaza — the building that houses New York City’s immigration court — just one hour before minors are to appear before a judge.

 

Catholic Charities is just one of the organizations in New York City that has taken advantage of so-called “rocket docket” days, in which judges hold initial hearings for many minors simultaneously, on multiple days each week. The expedited court process is just one of President Barack Obama’s strategies to handle the surge of unaccompanied minors in the country and the subsequent backlog of immigration cases.

Read the full story in Latin America News Dispatch.

Do you need immigration help?  Call our New Americans Hotline at 800-566-7636.

Scam Artists Are Target of Immigration Initiative

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

(L-R) State Secretary of State Cesar Perales, Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo, NY Immigration Coation Executive Director Steven Choi and Catholic Charities Community Services Director Beatriz Diaz Taveras

“Unethical lawyers and other scam artists that prey on New York’s immigrant community have been put on notice. The state has the means to keep tabs on them and will come down hard on anyone attempting to defraud or exploit this particularly vulnerable population,” writes Ron Lajoie in a recent Catholic New York article.

New York State’s Office for New Americans, in cooperation with a coalition of partners, including Catholic Charities, rolled out a new comprehensive initiative at a press conference at the new headquarters of Catholic Charities’ Division of Immigration and Refugee Services in Lower Manhattan Sept. 18 to combat fraud against immigrants across New York State. The initiative follows legislation recently signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandating stricter requirements for immigration assistance providers and tougher penalties for those who scam the system.

‘We’ve got to deliver the message that if you take advantage of immigrants it’s a crime. It’s a serious crime and we are going to prosecute you,’said New York Secretary of State Cesar Perales. ‘We’re taking proactive steps and empowering our immigrant communities through legitimate services to create a safe and fair economic landscape that will benefit every New Yorker.’

A main component of the new initiative will be the expansion of the New York State New Americans Hotline—800-566-7636—operated by Catholic Charities to serve as a resource to coordinate immigration fraud complaints as well as to offer service referrals…

Beatriz Diaz Taveras, executive director of Catholic Charities Community Services, told CNY as many as 10 percent of the calls coming into the hotline deal with fraud issues…

‘Now that we have this campaign and people are seeing it on the subways and in newspapers, we have over 200 calls a month,’ Ms. Diaz Taveras said. ‘And folks are calling about attorneys who have taken their money, who have not provided services, notarios that they have gone to that have given incorrect information. And they are asking how can they be helped and what recourse do they have?’

Judge Sheds Robes to Comfort Traumatized, Unaccompanied Children

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

“A federal immigration judge says his priority when dealing with traumatized children facing deportation is to create a kinder, gentler courtroom,” reports Verena Dobnik from the Associated Press.

 New York’s assistant chief immigrant judge, Robert Weisel, told a City Council hearing Monday that he takes off his black robes and speaks to young children from the bench in a more casual tone.

‘Our objective is to lower the level of anxiety, lower the level of fear, because after all, when you see someone in a black robe, it’s very scary,’ the judge said.

Weisel testified before the council’s Committee on Immigration, which is assessing the needs of children smuggled into the United States from Central America. The cases of more than 1,100 of them are pending before New York City immigration judges. Some face deportation.

The City Council recently allocated nearly $2 million to Catholic Charities Community Services and its coalition of service providers to cover the children’s legal expenses.

Read the full AP story.

Agency Retreat Prepares for Catholic Charities Centennial

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

DSC_1704As an early step in preparation for the upcoming centennial celebration of The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York – just three years from now in 2017 — executive directors from our 90 affiliated agencies convened last week at the Met Life building.  They participated in breakout sessions that focused on and collaborating and networking with fellow affiliated agencies.

“As we approach the Centennial of The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, we reinforce and make clear our fundamental understanding of this federation of agencies,” Msgr. Sullivan said, “independent in governance and management, yet united by a common Catholic vision.  A vision which affirms the dignity of each person, of every religion or no religion, made in the image and likeness of God and the priority of our services and resources toward the poor and vulnerable.”

Check out photos from the event

Advocates: NY Is Leader for Migrant Children

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

10669085_10154586624835494_235170907021392108_oBy VERENA DOBNIK

The Associated Press

“New York state is a national leader in helping thousands of unaccompanied migrant children who have fled Central America for the United States, but more funding is needed to give them a normal life, advocates told state legislators during a hearing last week,” writes Verena Dobnik this week for the Associated Press.

Organizations that provide shelter, legal, medical and social services urged lawmakers at a state Assembly hearing in Manhattan to bolster aid for these children. The Rev. Kevin Sullivan, who heads Catholic Charities in the New York diocese, said the state should invest about $24 million.

‘By investing under $4,000 in each of these kids, we think you can build a future and create thousands of new, productive New Yorkers who are going to be contributing taxpayers to New York state,’ he said.

Read the full story.

City Council Chooses Catholic Charities & Its Coalition to Represent Unaccompanied Minors

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Unaccompanied2Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan attended a New York City Council meeting today, September 23, 2014, as it earmarked a $1.9 million grant for Catholic Charities Community Services and its coalition of established service providers to give legal representation and other services to approximately 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant children facing possible deportation under a new accelerated court process.

The New York Times reported that:

The Council is to earmark $1 million,; the Robin Hood Foundation is committing $550,000, and the New York Community Trust, $360,000…

‘It’s a groundbreaking public-private partnership,’  said Melissa Mark-Viverito, the City Council speaker.

The accelerated process at the New York Immigration Court, informally known as the “surge docket” or “rocket docket,” began in August under a Justice Department mandate. The number of youth deportation cases has since swelled to 30 per day from fewer than 100 per month, overwhelming the legal groups that provide free screenings and legal representation to immigrant children in coordination with court officials.

The speedy deportation hearings are part of the Obama administration’s efforts to deter the illegal migration of young people from Central America. The federal goal is for children to go before an immigration judge within 21 days of being placed in the deportation process. Children could be deported within a few months, instead of years…

The $1.9 million will go to a coalition of established service providers, such as the Door, the Legal Aid Society, Catholic Charities Community Services and the Safe Passage Project. Mr. Weingartner said the Robin Hood Foundation would evaluate the program’s performance after 18 months.

Read more in The New York Times.