Posts Tagged ‘citizenship exams’

Catholic Charities Supports Bill to Provide Identity Cards for all New Yorkers

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

By Alice Kenny

 

Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan submitted testimony yesterday, April 30, 2014, in support of proposed legislation called Intro 253 of 2014 that would provide New Yorkers who lack documentation, including undocumented immigrants, city-issued identification cards.

This ID card would help those who live and work in New York City but are shut out from key City services where ID is required.

Below is Msgr. Sullivan’s testimony:

The Catholic Church has long been in the forefront of immigration reform and services to immigrant communities regardless of one’s place of origin or religious beliefs. This legislation provides a mechanism for inclusion and identity into city life for immigrants as well as other isolated groups.
Catholic Charities is a federation of 90 agencies that:

• Protect and Nurture Children & Youth
• Feed the Hungry and Shelter the Homeless
• Strengthen Families and resolve Crisis
• Support the Physically and Emotionally Challenged, and
• Welcome and Integrate Immigrants and Refugees.

The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, through its many agencies and programs, has worked tirelessly to help refugees fleeing persecution to get protection in the United States and immigrants to reunite with their families legally, obtain proper work authorization, apply for naturalization, learn English and civics, and prepare to pass their citizenship exams. We assist more than 100,000 individuals annually. We are privileged to operate the New York State New Americans Hotline which, this year alone, has received close to 25,000 calls in 17 different languages. We recently relocated our major center to downtown New York to provide better access for those from all boroughs.

New York City has a long tradition, like Catholic Charities, of welcoming immigrants and providing access to ensure dignity and justice for the human person. This bill will provide the ability for immigrants, seniors, homeless persons and other marginalized groups to obtain identification cards to access government services and structures. The lives of many will be vastly improved by the acceptance of various and broad forms of proof to establish residency and identity and thereby allow people to obtain identity cards.

We can’t deny the contribution and influence of immigrants to the culture and economy of the City of New York. Establishing a way to access public schools to pick up their children, open bank accounts, get library cards, cash checks and even enter a public building are just some of the ways that this municipal identification card can ensure that we continue on the path toward full civic participation for all New Yorkers, regardless of status.

We urge the speedy passage of this legislation and, again, congratulate the bill’s sponsor, the Chair of the Immigration Committee, the Speaker and the other members of the City council for the introduction and support of this crucial measure. Thank you for the opportunity to testify on this bill.

For the inside scoop on the potential backlash or embrace of municipal ID cards Msgr. Sullivan interviewed John DeStefano the former Mayor of New Haven, CT in this recent episode of JustLove radio. New Haven, a city of about 130,000, pioneered municipal ID cards without regard to legal status in 2007.

JustLove airs weekly on Saturday at 10am EST on SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio on The Catholic Channel 129.

Massive Mobilization on Immigration Reform; The Time for Change Is Now

Friday, April 12th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Waving signs and chanting slogans, thousands of New Yorkers added their voices Wednesday to a massive national mobilization for immigration reform.  They included Oberos Unidos de Yonkers, day laborers assisted by Catholic Charities, who rallied in White Plains.  Residents also took part in candlelight vigils in Rockland and Putnam Counties, marched in Newburgh and joined busloads that wound their way from New York City and the Hudson Valley to Washington, D.C.  Together they united with tens of thousands of people who met on the Capital lawn to insist that the time for change is now.

“Catholic Charities is both proud and privileged to work with newcomers who contribute to the growth and well-being of this country, the one they call home,” Catholic Charities Executive Monsignor Sullivan said yesterday.  “We join immigrants and advocates who will make this case in Washington D.C. and in other parts of the country at a massive mobilization and faith community vigil for citizenship, and fair and humane legal immigration opportunities.”

Wednesday’s outdoor rallies took place as a bipartisan group of senators worked inside the Capital. Known as the “Gang of Eight,” they are negotiating a bill aimed at securing the border, tapping foreign workers for critically needed jobs and creating a path to citizenship.

Catholic Charities helps immigrants reunite legally with their families, obtain proper work authorization, learn English and civics, and prepare to pass citizenship exams. Catholic Charities also assists immigrants in avoiding exploitation by unscrupulous practitioners by providing correct information and realistic counsel about immigration status.

For example, Catholic Charities works with Obreros Unidos de Yonkers, a group of more than 300 day laborers in Yonkers.  Together, we educate workers regarding employment rights and responsibilities to prevent exploitation and workplace abuse.  We also assist in integrating workers into society and provide local resources to assist them in this process.

We do this by:

  • Hosting workshops and trainings on worker rights, safety in the workplace, basics of immigration and other topics as needed
  •   Issuing membership cards with identifying information
  •  Providing office and meeting space and administrative support for workers
  •  Assisting in the collection of unpaid wages, access to healthcare services, emergency food, English as a Second Language programs and computer classes.
  • Facilitating conversations with local business owners, police elected officials and the community.

 

Looking for more information about Obreros Unidos de Yonkers?

Call (914) 375-6729/48 for more information on or visit the office at St. Peter’s Church basement, 91 Ludlow Street, Yonkers, NY  10705.

Call the Catholic Charities Help Line  — (888) 744-7900 — for more help finding the services you need.

Good Friday – A Commemoration and a Call to Assist Victims of Today’s Crucifixions

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Photo Credit: Sr. Marylin Gramas, S.U.

By Alice Kenny

At the largest public Christian peace witness in New York City, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York Director of Justice and Peace Thomas Dobbins stood with Sr. Maureen Jerkowski, a member of the Lifeway Network of Religious Against Human Trafficking, as she read at the Catholic Charities of New York-sponsored Tenth Station of the Cross; Jesus is Stripped of His Garments, on Good Friday, March 29, 2013.

More than 500 people joined with them at this thirtieth annual Good Friday Way of the Cross, a modern-day enactment of the Stations of the Cross, to pray for peace and justice on the streets of New York.   The walk began at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (47th Street at First Avenue) and proceeded along 42nd Street to Ninth Avenue.  Participants were encouraged to reflect on “How do I do for others what Jesus is doing for me? How am I called to live in this world?”

Catholic Charities and the LifeWay Network chose the tenth station of the cross to raise awareness of human trafficking.  LifeWay Network’s mission is to provide safe housing for survivors of human trafficking and to offer educational opportunities for the general public.  Catholic Charities helps immigrants reunite legally with their families, obtain proper work authorization, learn English and civics, and prepare to pass citizenship exams. The organization also assists immigrants, non Catholics and Catholics alike, to avoiding exploitation by unscrupulous practitioners by providing correct information and realistic counsel about immigration status.

The Good Friday Way of the Cross is organized each year by Pax Christi Metro New York, a regional section of Pax Christi, the international Catholic movement for peace.

“The Pax Christi Good Friday Way of the Cross has become an important part of my Good Friday observance over the past few years,” Mr. Dobbins said.  “It helps me to remember that Good Friday is not only a commemoration of events that took place 2,000 years ago, but more importantly is a call for us as Christians and people of good will to reach out and assist the victims of today’s crucifixions – the poor and the marginal, victims and refugees of war and violence, trafficked persons and others in desperate situations who don’t know where to turn – that, through our services, we at Catholic Charities seek to assist not only on Good Friday, but every day.”