Posts Tagged ‘deportation’

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.

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.

In Court, Immigrant Children Moved to Head of the Line

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Yovany’s first opportunity to face the United States justice system came late on Thursday morning, more than a month after his journey from Guatemala ended in an American detention center near the Southwest border, reports Kirk Semple in The New York Times on August 14, 2014…

Yovany was among 55 children who have come before the judge this week as part of a new accelerated court process, a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s strategy to deal with the surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America…

Before the surge of unaccompanied minors became a crisis for the Obama administration, the immigration courts in New York, among the nation’s busiest, held four special juvenile dockets every month for children facing deportation. In coordination with court officials, a coalition of groups — including the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Catholic Charities Community Services, Legal Aid, Safe Passage Project and the Door — provided screening and free legal representation to the children…

Immigrants’ advocates in New York learned only at the end of July that the Justice Department had scheduled the new juvenile dockets starting this week. The groups, already overstretched, rushed to develop a plan of action…

The special dockets unfolded this week on the 12th floor of 26 Federal Plaza, a hulking federal office building near City Hall. The children, most accompanied by relatives, began to gather in the hallway outside Courtroom 31 by 8 a.m., an hour before the hearings were to begin…

On both days, Elvis Garcia Callejas, a representative from Catholic Charities, used a white board to present the families with a primer, in Spanish, on how the court works and on possible avenues of relief they might pursue to avoid a deportation order.

Most of the defendants appeared to be teenagers, although there were children as young as 4. Two young sisters wore matching striped dresses.

“The judge is not going to rule today,” Mr. Garcia Callejas clarified…

Justice Department officials said they had a mandate to ensure that children went before an immigration judge within 21 days of being placed in deportation proceedings. They plan to hold the special dockets as often as necessary to reach that goal.

Read the full story in The New York Times.

Catholic Charities Welcomes Unaccompanied Minors While Upholding Law

Friday, August 8th, 2014

NOTE: All photos require the written permission of copyright holder Maria R. Bastone for usage. NO MODEL RELEASES; NO SALES; NO TRANSFER OF RIGHTS TO THIRD PARTYCatholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan stressed in a Catholic New York  front page story that the Church’s stance on helping unaccompanied minors seeking asylum is “entirely in keeping with the law, specifically a law passed by Congress in 2008 and signed by President George W. Bush to curb child trafficking.”

That law requires that the government allow minors from Central America time to seek protection in the United States, and not be subject to immediate deportation as is the case with illegal immigrants from Mexico.

‘The current situation of the surge of children arriving at the southern border is one in which in the tradition of this country, those who are fleeing violence, fear of persecution or abuse in their own countries are given refuge in this country for a humanitarian purpose,” he explained . “What we are doing now as a country and what Catholic Charities is doing is providing that safe haven for those seeking to flee from abuse and violence in their native countries.’

‘Where this relates to the overall immigration question is, and this needs to be said very clearly, the Catholic Church is not in favor of illegal immigration. It is for that reason that we believe the laws of this country need to be reformed and a comprehensive approach needs to be taken, which provides for a fair and humane legal immigration system that doesn’t precipitate illegal immigration.’

Read the full interview in Catholic New York.

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.

Warning: Avoid Scams That Defraud Immigrants

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

WARNING: Scammers will advertise that they are able to get immigration documents, but may not have the knowledge, training and authorization to provide immigration legal services.

Immigrants defrauded by scammers can lose money and even be put at risk of deportation.

It is very important to get advice from lawyers with immigration experience, or from non-profit agencies that are authorized to provide immigration services under federal law.

Call the New York State (NYS) New Americans Hotline: 1-212-419-3737 or 1-800-566-7636 (toll-free in NYS) for more information and referrals to agencies authorized to provide assistance with immigration matters.

Click here to learn more about the New Americans Hotline.

Find out how Catholic Charities can help.

Check out the New Americans website for more information.

Defrauded Widower Rebuilds Life

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Eugenio German sold ice cream from a pushcart. Anita Villalongo left her building each day to buy a cone.

Their friendship blossomed into a marriage. Their marriage blossomed into a family; two daughters and a son.

But cancer and corruption almost wiped it all away.  Ms. Villalongo-German, a Puerto Rican American citizen, died of cancer – multiple myeloma – and renal failure on March 26, 2011.  Meanwhile, attorneys the couple had hired to process Dominican-born Mr. German’s application for citizenship defrauded them, leaving Mr. German in danger of deportation.

Fortunately, the Catholic Charities Immigration department stepped in to help.

Read the full story in today’s New York Times.

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan Teams with Clergy and Immigrant Leaders to Call for Immigration Reform

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

By Alice Kenny

As part of a national month of prayer and action, Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan joined yesterday with Staten Island Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish, Muslim, mainline Protestant clergy and immigrant leaders to reflect on the lives of new immigrants.  The crowd gathered at St. Margaret Mary ’s Church in Midland Beach, Staten Island, with the church’s pastor, Fr. Erno Diaz, to pray for immigrants’ full inclusion through just and humane comprehensive immigration reform.

They held the event during the August Congressional recess, Director of NYS Interfaith Network for Immigration Relief Diane Steinman said, to persuade House of Representatives members to do the right thing for immigrants and our nation at large,

Among the many speakers was Maggie Kawas, an immigrant who spoke about her father’s deportation and, similar to many immigrant families, the tragic toll it took.

Msgr. Sullivan then spoke about witnessing firsthand the pain and suffering of undocumented immigrants forced to live in the shadows, many who live in fear of deportation or whose families have been shattered by deportation.

Learn more about what he said and the event in SILive.

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.

Looking for immigration assistance?  Call us at the New York State (NYS) New Americans Hotline: 1-212-419-3737 or 1-800-566-7636 (Toll-free in NYS)

For help finding other services you need please call us at the Catholic Charities Help line at: 888-744-7900.

Warning: Many Agencies Advertise Fraudulent Help for Immigrants. Contact Catholic Charities for Reputable Help.

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

By Alice Kenny

  • Catholic Charities can help immigrants learn whether they are eligible for authorization to work legally in the United States and can help them apply for such authorization if eligible.
  • WARNING: Many agencies will advertise that they are able to get work documents for immigrants who lack legal immigration status.
  • These practices are fraudulent and could lead to deportation.
  • It is very important to get advice from a qualified, and reputable individual or organization to make sure that the work authorization document you apply for is valid.

Call the New York State (NYS) New Americans Hotline: 1-212-419-3737 or 1-800-566-7636 (toll-free in NYS) for more information.

Click here to learn more about the New Americans Hotline.

Click here to find a Catholic Charities agency that can help you determine if you are eligible for work authorization.

Check out the New Americans website just announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo at  www.newamericans.ny.gov