Posts Tagged ‘Elvis Garcia Callejas’

Catholic Charities Honored for Defending Defenseless Children

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

awardCatholic Charities Community Services’ participation in the Immigrant Children’s Advocate’s Relief Effort (ICARE) was honored by the American Immigration Council on December 1, 2014 with the Public Service Award for “invaluable service and enduring dedication to immigrant children in need of legal representation.”

The American Immigration Council bestowed this honor on Catholic Charities and its ICARE partners at its Immigrant Achievement Awards event held during the 17th Annual American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) New York Chapter Symposium at the New York Marriott Marquis in midtown Manhattan.

Jodi Ziesemer, the attorney who leads the CCCS team responsible for representing newly arrived unaccompanied immigrant minors on the New York Immigration Court’s so-called “surge dockets” and Elvis Garcia Callejas, who provides “Know Your Rights” presentations to these minors and to their custodians before they attend court, accepted the award on behalf of Catholic Charities.

Their goal and that of Catholic Charities is to provide every child in immigration court with due process and a fair opportunity to explain why return to their country of origin would be harmful and dangerous.

“Jodi and Elvis, assisted by many other members of our staff, have been working tirelessly to provide information and legal screening to minors who have been appearing on the ‘surge dockets’ since August 13, 2014, ” said Raluca Oncioiu, Director of the Immigration Legal Services Department at CCCS.

“This award recognizes the importance of their work, which has touched hundreds of minors over the past three and a half months. We are immensely grateful to the New York City Council and the New York Community Trust, for funding – together with the Robin Hood Foundation – the work of ICARE with minors who live in New York City, and to the Executive Office for Immigration Review for funding the ‘Know Your Rights” presentations we provide to unaccompanied minors and their custodians who reside in New York State.”

Find out more.

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.

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.