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

Learn English on Your Cell Phone

Friday, May 1st, 2015

All immigrants in New York State will have access to a free English program pending the results of a pilot with Spanish-speaking residents. Shutterstock/Rob Marmion

Plenty of politicians think that immigrants should learn English, but now one of them is doing something about it, reports Latin Times.

Catholic Charities is partnering with the New York State Office for New Americans to enroll immigrants in the program.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) made his state the first to offer English lessons via cellphone as a part of a pilot program run by the social venture Cell-ED. The first phase of the program, directed at Spanish speakers in selected New York counties, reportedly costs the state a mere$14,000. The program will be free for participants, aside from the cost of minutes and text messages on their phones. Cuomo’s administration hope that the English lessons will help struggling immigrant who hope to improve their English but don’t have time to attend classes in person.

The program, overseen by the The New York State Office for New Americans (ONA) and contracted to Cell-ED combines text messages, voice tutorials, and two-way communication with tutors. Pending a successful pilot, all New York state residents will be able to call a Cell-ED number to begin receiving tutorials as well as the ability to send back answers to be automatically reviewed and corrected. While the pilot program is offered in Spanish, the ONA says that other languages such as Mandarin, French and others could be added in the future.

Read the full story in Latin Times.

Parallels Between My Jewish Faith & the Mission of Catholic Charities

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

meiraFordham University social work graduate student Meira Zack is completing an 8-month internship with Catholic Charities Community Services.

By Meira Zack

I am Jewish and interning here at Catholic Charities has been my first real exposure to Catholicism and its observances. What better place to experience it than the Archdiocese!

As a religious individual, I have always been inspired by the mission-driven attitude behind our work at Catholic Charities Community Services.  This meaningful connection was intensified for me by the period of Lent and the Lenten message repeated in multiple agency emails: “Forty days before Easter when, through prayer, sacrifice and helping others, we transform our Christian love into action.”

This message particularly spoke to me because it parallels the three-fold mantra of the Jewish High Holy Days “Teshuva, Tefeela, uTzedaka, ma’aveerin et ro’ah hagezayra – Repentance, Prayer, and Giving revoke the evil decree.”

It inspired me to meditate on the messages of Teshuva, Tefeela, and Tzedaka, and what they have meant to me in the context of my time here at Catholic Charities.

  • Teshuva/Repentance – repairing damage done and healing wounds between self and God and self and others.  At Catholic Charities Community Services, we repair the relationship between society and its vulnerable populations; we help clients repair damage done in their personal lives.
  • Tefeela/Prayer – faith in God, supplication to God, dialogue with God; communal prayer and solidarity.  At Catholic Charities Community Services we are in a unique position where clients may ask us to pray with or for them; where they may turn to us for religious inspiration and hope.
  • Tzedaka/Giving – giving of one’s self, time, and money.  At Catholic Charities Community Services, we not only give of our time and selves in the work we do every do with clients, but also of our own resources in raising funds for the St. Nicholas Project and pantry items for Feeding Our Neighbors.

The united messages of “prayer-sacrifice-helping others” and “repentance-prayer-giving” teach the same lessons of repair, giving, honesty and togetherness with a focus on God as inspiration, partner, and conduit for “providing help, creating hope, and upholding the dignity of each person as made in the image of God by serving the basic needs of the poor, troubled, frail and oppressed of all religions.”

This is the vision and mission of Catholic Charities.

Bombarded by Tragedies?

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Photograph by Chris Ramirez PhotographerBy Alice Kenny

When one tragedy hits, other tragedies too often follow.  We lose a job and then have a tough time paying rent.  We need help with immigration but can’t explain ourselves clearly in English.  Our home floods and we lose our furniture and clothes as well.

Making things worse is the hard time we have when we try to navigate the systems that are supposed to assist us.

Catholic Charities is here help.  Our knowledgeable professionals can help you deal with overlapping problems and cut through bureaucratic red tape.

This can make the difference between getting the help you need and simply giving up.

Click here to find a Catholic Charities agency to coordinate the services you need.

Contact us through the Catholic Charities Help Line: 888-744-7900.

Executive Action Q & A

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

About 338,000 undocumented immigrants living in New York State may qualify for President Obama’s Executive Action on immigration reform.

YOU – or someone you know — may be one of them.

Q: Four Letters – What Do They Mean & How Can They Help?

A: The President’s Executive Action is still being fought in the courts.  If it goes through, these four letters – DACA or DAPA – could change your life.

  • Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA)
    DAPA helps parents who arrived in the United States on or before January 1, 2010, and who have at least one U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident son or daughter. This allows immigrant parents to stay in the country, work legally for 3 years, and apply for travel permission.
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
    DACA helps immigrants who came to the United States before their 16th birthday and arrived on or before January 1, 2010. This program allows immigrants who qualify to stay in the country, work legally for 3 years, and apply for travel permission.

Q: Why are these programs important?

A: The U.S. government will not deport immigrants who qualify for either of these programs for 3 years. This promise is called “Deferred Action” and will be written on a Work Authorization card with your name and picture. Even though these programs are temporary, if you believe you qualify, continue to gather documents and evidence for your application.

Q:Too Complicated to Read – Time for a Face-to-Face

A: Several times each week, Catholic Charities and its partners in the Archdiocese and in the New York area offer free informational presentations.

For other events in the New York City area, visit the Mayor’s Offices of Immigration Affairs events page

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.