Posts Tagged ‘deportation proceedings’

Msgr. Sullivan Testifies Before State Assembly About Migrant Youth

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

photoResponding to the sudden influx of youth fleeing Central America and now residing in New York State, Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan testified today, September 16, 2014, at a public hearing in downtown Manhattan to determine what the State should be doing to better serve them and New York State residents.

Michele Titus, Chair of the New York State Assembly Committee on Social Services, requested testimony from Msgr. Sullivan and fellow leaders that provide residential, health care, and legal services for these youth.

Nearly one out of 10  migrant youth fleeing Central America due to the violence and extreme poverty –  approximately 8,000 of the 90,000 youth arriving this year alone — are expected to be detained and face lengthy deportation proceedings in New York State, second only to Texas. Many come in search of parents or other relatives residing here.  While immigration and deportation proceedings are federal issues, many youth must go before family courts and some become charges of the State.

Catholic Charities is one of the largest providers of services to unaccompanied children in the United States, with the capacity to marshal a significant response that helps the maximum number of children in the broadest geographic zone.

Yet, despite Catholic Charities’ nearly 100-year history of helping immigrants and refugees, “our collective witness of children fleeing their home country to find refuge and reunification in the United States is a first-of-its kind in our nation’s history,” Msgr. Sullivan told the Assembly.

Below are more excerpts from Msgr. Sullivan’s testimony:

The unaccompanied minors, and their families, are among the most vulnerable and needy migrants and refugees that we have ever encountered… For this very reason, it calls for special care and attention, for a set of new legal and human services responses…

This year, Catholic Charities will assist over 4,000 children in sixteen shelters, covering about 1,200 beds in the Lower Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island. This is where 95% of children in federal custody in New York State are sheltered.

But in addition to breadth, Catholic Charities also is the only New York agency that can provide a comprehensive range of services to unaccompanied children on a large scale. This includes know-your-rights presentations, consultations, and legal representation to kids in detention, legal representation at the “surge” juvenile dockets, in-person and telephonic orientations to parents and custodians in communities throughout the New York region, post-release case management follow-up, coordinated medical-legal clinical support, and English instruction and cultural orientation.

Stated summarily, we call for:
 

  • Support for deportation defense legal resources for children who live outside New York City (to the extent private and public funders may cover children residing in New York City).
  • Support for expanded legal orientation community-based programs for children and parents/custodians who may not meet the “Unaccompanied Alien Child” definition (children who entered with a parent).
  • Developing and supporting legal-medical partnerships and clinics
  • Comprehensive case management and transitional support follow-up for children and with their parents at home (and their families) for five years
  • Expansion of Refugee Social Services Program and Targeted Assistance Grant programs to allow for enrollment of children under 16 years old and children over 16 who are in school (both groups are presently not covered).
  • Statewide coordination of school registration/enrollment protocols by the Department of Education (ensuring state-wide compliance with documentation protocols).

Catholic Charities Joins Public Advocate Letitia James to Call for Pro-Bono Legal Help for Unaccompanied Children

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014
2014-08-12 11.38.02

Catholic Charities Supervising Attorney Margaret Martin with Letitia James and fellow advocates

Public Advocate Letitia James joined a coalition of immigration advocates including Catholic Charities, New York Immigration Coalition and Legal Aid Society yesterday, August 12, 2014, to call on increased protection and representation for undocumented youth navigating New York immigration court.

Margaret Martin,  supervising attorney for Catholic Charities Unaccompanied Minors Program, spoke at the event along with others to call for the creation of a help desk at Immigration Court that will provide counsel and resources to children and their families, and monthly clinics around the City to train attorneys who volunteer to act as a friend of the court during initial hearings (“surge dockets”) that involve unaccompanied minors.  The Public Advocate seeks to recruit attorneys to serve in this capacity pro-bono and also plans to undergo training to serve unaccompanied youth.

Today, the first of nearly 3,500 unaccompanied children– many of whom have both experienced and been witness to heinous crimes in their home countries– will enter New York State to face deportation proceedings via accelerated court hearings.

New York State is second only to Texas in the number of unaccompanied children hosted, followed by Florida with 3,181 and California with 3,150. These children, as young as five years old, come without any knowledge of our legal system, yet are expected to navigate the complex juvenile surge docket.

Children and others in court for immigration charges do not have a right to an attorney — so if they cannot afford one or do not have family to help them find one, they go unrepresented in their hearings.

“For more than 8 years, Catholic Charities has been providing compassionate help to those seeking refuge from Central America,” said Catholic Charities Executive Director Monsignor Kevin Sullivan.

“We have seen the number of children in need of help increase dramatically and witnessed the emotional and physical scars they bear from violence and abuse in their home countries.  We continue to respond to each child’s needs, by expanding our services to meet the growing demand, whether through providing proper legal representation, helping reunification with custodial parents, or coordinating needed supportive human 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.