Posts Tagged ‘immigrants’

Catholic Charities Supports Mayor de Blasio as He Signs Municipal ID Card Into Law

Friday, July 11th, 2014
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Msgr. Sullivan with Mayor de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Councilmen Daniel Dromm, Carlos Menchaca, Antonio Reynoso and HRA Commissioner Steven Banks

Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan joined with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and others on Thursday, July 10, to support Mayor Bill de Blasio as he signed into law a plan to offer municipal identification cards to New York City residents regardless of their immigration status.

The program, signed into law yesterday at the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza, is designed largely to help the estimated 500,000 immigrants living without legal status in the city.  The card, dubbed the New York City Identity Card, will be available to anyone who can prove their identity and residency in the city. It is particularly aimed at groups that are currently unable to show a form of government identification required to do things such as cashing a check, signing a lease or even entering office buildings for job interviews or public schools for parent-teacher conferences.

The cards will be available starting in 2015.

Listen to this clip on CBS News to learn more.

Through Monopoly, Clue and Scrabble, Immigrants Learn How to Spell “SUCCESS”

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

DDAY Monopoly International CenterBy Alice Kenny

On June 6, 160 volunteers from the national consulting firm Deloitte fanned out to more than a dozen separate site locations affiliated with Catholic Charities. Below is the third installment in a series about their adventures and a glimpse at the large amount that together we can accomplish.

Who was the murderer, Professor Plum or Colonel Mustard? And who was the winner, the guy who kept passing “Go” to collect $200 or the luckless fellow sent straight to jail?

Thirty recently arrived immigrants faced off against 14 Deloitte volunteers with Monopoly, Clue, and fellow board games favorites to find out. They played for four hours straight — barely breaking for their catered lunch — motivated as much by winning as by the chance to polish their English and learn about American culture.

For just $250 — the cost of six board games and lunch — plus invaluable time donated by Deloitte staff, Deloitte underwrote a day of play at Catholic Charities New International Center, a day that broke down barriers and a day that few who were there will forget.
Located at 80 Maiden Lane in downtown Manhattan, the International Center offers job readiness, English language and educational enrichment opportunities.

He Knows How Bad It Can Get: Former Undocumented Minor Reaches Out to Others

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

By Alice Kenny

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Photo credit: Naperville Sun – Elvis Garcia (L) as forward for Naperville North High School, Naperville, Illinois.

Fifteen years old, hungry and alone, Elvis Garcia hitched rides, scrambled atop freight trains, and dragged himself through deserts for 1,200 miles to reach his promised land, the United States.

His native Honduras had turned into a wasteland where teenage gangs held shootouts on village streets. Nearly half the nation’s full-time workers earn less than the minimum wage. Many work full time yet earn just $5 per day. Children have little to do but play pick-up soccer games with deflated balls. Many parents are MIA, some raped and killed, others fleeing in search of better lives.

Now, after nine years that included 49 days in a stifling El Paso, Texas detention center, helping hands from strangers and success in school and on the soccer field, Elvis counts himself among the lucky. Once an unaccompanied, undocumented minor, Elvis today is a U.S. citizen. He graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And he now works as a Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Services case manager and part-time soccer coach for a team of U.S. citizens and undocumented teens.

Elvis’ experience as a former unaccompanied minor and now a mentor to them offers a rare glimpse into challenges faced, possibilities for life-transforming success or abject failure and how help as small as a soccer ball or as big as legal team can make all the difference.

“In a nation that prides itself on the fact that everyone accused of a crime – murderers, rapists – has a right to a lawyer, undocumented immigrants, even when they are unaccompanied children, are not entitled to a public defender,” writes reporter Sonia Nazario in The New York Times. “These children – some as young as 2 years old – have no one to help them.”

Well, not no one. Fortunately for Elvis, a family he met agreed to sponsor him towards citizenship. And fortunately for a growing group of a young New Yorkers, Catholic Charities is stepping in to offer comprehensive support. Its immigration and refugee services staff helps apprehended unaccompanied children. They provide free legal representation. They offer case management support. And now, through a growing medical-legal partnership, they look out for the whole child, from giving needed immunizations to offering sports and a social life that help children stay in school and out of trouble.

Elvis is part of the team of Catholic Charities immigration specialists that provide this support. And while he values the key case management services he offers these lonely unaccompanied teens, some of his favorite, most valuable hours, he says, are the ones he spends volunteering each week coaching Saturday Soccer with teens from the Medical-Legal Partnership Immigrant Youth Clinic.

A joint partnership between Catholic Charities and Montefiore Hospital Community Pediatrics Children’s Health Programs, the clinic provides free medical, legal and mental health services to unaccompanied immigrant youth in the Bronx, regardless of immigration status. The program has now expanded to include Saturday Soccer through a partnership with South Bronx United, a non-profit in the South Bronx dedicated to fostering social change and academic achievement on and off the soccer field.

“Like me, a lot of these kids came to this country with no knowledge of the language and culture,” Elvis says as he kicks a ball on the team’s soccer field near Yankee Stadium in the South Bronx. “Soccer is something we know, something we did every day. Soccer is something we can relate to where everything else is new and different.”

Learn more about Catholic Charities Immigrant and Refugee Services.

Catholic Charities Joins Fellow Immigration Leaders for Day of Action in Albany

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

SJ Jung, board president of MinKwon Center for Community Action, speaks about need for increased funding for immigrant services. Left to right: Assemblyman Ron Kim; Claire Sylvan, president of the Internationals Network For Public Schools; Judy Wessler, Health Care Advocate, former director, CPHS; SJ Jung, president of Minkwon Center for Community Action; and Mario Russell, senior attorney for Catholic Charities, New York.

Catholic Charities joined 250 immigrants, community leaders, elected officials, and advocates in Albany earlier this month for the New York Immigration Coalition’s 17th Annual Albany Immigrants’ Day of Action. Delegation members including families, farm workers and “DREAMers” shared with nearly three dozen state legislators their experiences on issues faced by the four million immigrant New Yorkers.

The event offered an opportunity for one-on-one conversations about the value of the New York State DREAM Act – which was defeated in the New York State Senate by two votes on Monday, thus likely put on hold, at least for this year – and the need for increased funding for legal and social services for immigrants. Together the group presented NYIC’s Immigrant Equality Agenda.

Assembly members Marcos CrespoRon KimFrancisco P. MoyaFélix Ortiz, Luis Sepulveda and Senator José Peralta supported the group and joined a series of panel discussions on the priorities laid out by local communities.

Do you need immigration or resettlement assistance, hope to go to college, or have been defrauded by an immigration practitioner?

Call our New York State New Americans Hotline  at 800-566-7636.

New York State Office for New Americans Touts Free Immigrant Assistance and Referral Hotline

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

The New York State New Americans Hotline –1-800-566-7636 – provides general information and referrals on immigration and naturalization questions in more than 200 languages; also helps combat fraud against immigrants.

ALBANY – The New York State Office for New Americans (ONA) announced that its New York State New Americans Hotline (800-566-7636) has fielded more than 25,000 calls from immigrants and made more than 42,000 referrals to not-for-profit service providers in response to requests for assistance in 2013.  ONA was launched by Governor Andrew Cuomo in March as the first statewide office dedicated to helping our state’s immigrants contribute to our economy and become part of the family of New York.

Detailed data about the hotline will be released in the winter of 2014.

The New York State New Americans Hotline is a multi-lingual information center providing live assistance on general questions about immigration and naturalization. The hotline provides assistance in more than 200 languages, including Spanish, French, Haitian-Creole, Arabic and Chinese. The hotline operates from 9AM to 8PM (ET), Monday through Friday (excluding Federal holidays), and offers referrals to ONA Opportunity Centers and information on all New York State programs serving refugees and immigrants, other immigrant-related public and private programs, and not-for-profit immigrant service providers throughout the state.

“We are pleased that the New York State New Americans Hotline is helping so many immigrants as they transition to fully participating in New York State’s civic and economic life,” said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales, who oversees ONA for Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. “The hotline is an important source of information for immigrants and others who seek immigration and naturalization assistance. It also refers New Americans to their nearest ONA Opportunity Center, where they can meet with a staff member to begin the process of learning English, becoming naturalized or starting a new business.”

Raluca Oncioiu, Director of the New York State New Americans Hotline at Catholic Charities Community Services added: “The hotline has an important role to play in educating immigrants about their rights and referring them to reliable service providers in order to prevent anti-immigrant fraud. In particular, the hotline is always ready to educate the public about new programs, such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals announced in the summer of 2012, when hotline counselors fielded thousands of calls and made appropriate referrals to agencies providing free legal services.”

The New York State New Americans Hotline supports the network of 27 neighborhood-based ONA Opportunity Centers. Hosted within existing culturally-competent, language-accessible community-based organizations throughout the State, each ONA Opportunity Center helps immigrants learn English, prepare naturalization applications, study for the U.S. citizenship exam, and start and grow businesses.

New York State has the second largest immigrant population in the nation, which includes more than 1.2 million immigrants who reside outside the New York City area. More than one in four New York State residents of working age is foreign-born, which presents a major opportunity for economic growth in our state, where 29 percent of all small businesses are owned by immigrants.

“We look forward to serving more immigrants across New York State and urge them to tap into the hotline,” Perales continued.

For more information on the New York State Office for New Americans, go to www.newamericans.ny.gov

Typhoon Haiyan: Help The Philippines Survive and Recover

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

By Monsignor Kevin Sullivan

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the millions impacted by the devastating typhoon in the Philippines and their families in the United States.

Catholic Charities knows the strong bonds between immigrants in the United States and their families and friends in their native country and so our support is also for them. Lack of information about their family members is very upsetting. The Catholic Church is always among the first to respond to help because our organizations like Catholic Relief Services (CRS) are already on the ground helping communities.

Learn about CRS’ work in the Philippines

Welcoming Newcomers From Cardinal Dolan

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Cardinal Dolan hits the mark in the WSJ piece today on immigrants in the United States and the concern and role of the Catholic Church. Read it here: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303918804579107131431541914?mod=djemEditorialPage_h

Cardinal Dolan points out three important ways that Catholic Charities works with immigrants: the dissemination of good information to thousands of immigrants each year through the New Americans Hotline, English and civic classes at the new International Center and support to day laborers in Yonkers. Right now, prayer combined with hard work is needed ensure that those rumblings in Washington, D.C. about possible immigration reform and a good Farm Bill will happen. This Farm Bill addresses the need for supplemental meals that so many families rely on. The immigration bill must address a broken immigration system with fair policies that address family unity, a pathway out of the shadows, border security and a legal option for businesses to hire the workers they need. For the individuals and families that Catholic Charities serves, both of these are critical.

Congress Debates Immigration Reform; Catholic Charities Focuses on Dignity of Work

Friday, July 12th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Catholic Charities has long helped victims who have undergone the horrendous humiliation of human trafficking regain their dignity through one of the most basic of human activities, work.

We now extend our Dignity of Work program to those waiting to be certified as victims of human trafficking as well as certain crime victims who hold U-Visas.

Those eligible receive:

  • Employment preparation services, including employment readiness classes
  • Resume assistance
  • Mock interviews
  • Financial resources for employment training
  • Social services

Finding work in the U.S. can be hard, and many immigrants and refugees are drawn to America for the opportunity to better themselves. Catholic Charities helps those who want to be employed, but find it difficult to know where to start.

Catholic Charities agencies can help refugees, asylees, Cuban/Haitian entrants and victims of trafficking develop a resume, learn a skill, practice interview skills, and learn how to search for a job. They can also set up job interviews through a wide network of employers who have come to rely on the good judgment of our staff in matching employment needs with qualified workers.

At Catholic Charities NY, in any given year:

  • 2,176 families provided with expert counsel and safeguarded from exploitation
  • 28,332      calls for help answered promptly with accurate information in 18 languages
  • 478   breadwinners helped to obtain authorization to work
  • 324   immigrants reunited with their families
  • 457   individual refugees resettled
  • 72    immigrants taught English and civics
  • 42    asylum seekers provided with legal representation

Dignity of Work is an initiative of the Anti-Trafficking Program of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Do you need help?  Call our New York State (NYS) New Americans Hotline: 1-212-419-3737 or 1-800-566-7636 (Toll-free in NYS).

Immigration Reform: Political Winds Blowing Our Way

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Immigration reform may pass this year, predicts Kevin Appleby, director of migration and refugee policy at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as he speaks with Msgr. Kevin Sullivan on JustLove radio broadcast on April 27.

“Political winds, Mr. Appleby says, “are blowing our way.”

Called the “guru of immigration reform” by Msgr. Sullivan, Mr. Appleby offers an inside perspective on immigration reform’s history, hurdles and likelihood of success.

“We don’t have a system based on the rule of law anymore,” Mr. Appleby says.  “It’s based on chaos.

“At the border we have a sign that says ‘keep out’ but at the workplace we have a sign that says ‘help wanted.’”

Eleven million people live in the shadows and form an underground economy, he added.  Massive deportations divide families and pull parents away from children.  Persons struggling for a better life die as they try to cross the desert.

Solutions have been debated for decades, ever since Congress passed its last major immigration reform bill in 1986.

What’s different now “in a word,” says Mr. Appleby, “is the election; both parties have taken note and realized that the demographics of our country are changing and they need to get out ahead of it.”
Tune in to hear the entire show on The Catholic Channel 129, SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio.

Looking for information about Comprehensive Immigration Reform?

Catholic Charities is here to help.

Click here to learn how to prepare for immigration reform

Contact us now.

Call Catholic Charities at New York State New Americans Hotline: 1-800-566-7636

How to prepare for Immigration Reform

Friday, April 19th, 2013

A. There are no new laws yet and no “amnesty;” all we have is a bill in the Senate. We are still many months away – if not longer – from any new laws. You can call us at 800-566-7636 to check if the law has passed; we’ll be happy to answer your calls.This Senate bill is only the beginning of the conversation. There will be a long time before we know what the law looks like and before anyone can apply for anything.

B. In the meantime you should NOT give anyone money to any notarios, agencies, or lawyers to prepare an application or help them gather documents. Once we have a Comprehensive Immigration Reform law, there will be many reliable agencies that will help people at low cost and possibly for free. There is no need to pay thousands of dollars now.

C. What you can do is to start preparing on your own in the following ways:

i. Start a box of important documents, including:

1. Identity documents;

2. Evidence of when you came to the US and how long you have been here (the date in the Senate bill is December 31, 2011, but people who came to the US before they turned 16 and would qualify under the DREAM Act, should gather evidence for all those years that they have been living in the US);

3. Evidence of any trips outside the US after the first arrival (evidence of how long they were out of the US);

4. Evidence of work (particularly if you are an undocumented farm worker) or education in the US (particularly for DREAM Act-eligible kids);

5. Copies of any applications you already made to INS/USCIS;

6. If ever arrested, get the certificates of disposition, because those with certain serious convictions will not be eligible to apply, so you will need to show those conviction records to an attorney.

ii. Start learning English;

iii. US citizens who want to sponsor their siblings should talk to an attorney about starting the process now (the Senate bill proposes to eliminate visas for siblings of US citizens – but that can also change);

iv. Save money because there will be penalty fees (Senate bill says $2000, to be paid in stages) in addition to application fees.