Posts Tagged ‘President Obama’

How Will President Obama’s Immigration Executive Action Affect Me?

Monday, December 8th, 2014

“On Thursday of last week, President Obama brought hope to half of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America,” writes Catholic Charities Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services C. Mario Russell in his recent El Diario column.

“He did this in a way no other president has done before and showed America at its best.

  • He promised to treat them with dignity and with compassion.
  • He told them they would be given a fair chance to be part of society.
  • He lifted from their shoulders the burdens of fear and uncertainty.”

Do you have questions about President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration reform and wonder how it may affect you?

Read Mr. Russell’s full El Diario column below:

Starting in the next several months, about 4 million undocumented immigrants in the United States—mothers, fathers, children—will be able to apply for “deferred action” status. If eligible, they will work legally in the United States for a few years without the daily anxiety of deportation. One estimate puts the number eligible in New York State at just under 340,000.

There are those who accuse the President of acting like a king, of making rules outside the law, and of doing something unprecedented. These accusations are legally and factually wrong.  More important, they come from people who have used their power to frustrate the American people’s desire that immigrants be treated with dignity, compassion, and inclusion under the law. Facts are important: in 2013 comprehensive immigration reform did pass the Senate by a wide margin of votes, a bi-partisan vote for reform in the House of Representatives was blocked by Republican leaders, and 75% of Americans polled as recently as 3 days ago still support a plan for immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented.

America has always believed in basic truths about immigrants. Immigrants don’t threaten our way of life, they enrich it. Undocumented immigrants, like people, are not “illegal”; they just lack status. For hundreds of years they have married, grown families, prayed, and set roots in our communities. And they have worked hard. Undocumented immigrants added a net $100 billion to Social Security in the past 10 years, paid $11 billion in taxes in 2010, and will further contribute $45 billion in payroll taxes over the next 5 years if given work permits.

These truths go back a long time—as far as 1868—when Americans approved the Constitution’s 14th Amendment guaranteeing citizenship to the children of Chinese, Gypsy, and African slave immigrants, and to every person born on American soil. Senator John Conness of California, himself a naturalized Irish citizen, and a believer in justice for immigrants, said at the time in support of the amendment that immigrants were “entitled to equal civil rights.”

On Friday of last week, the day after Mr. Obama’s extraordinary announcement, I met with a Mexican family I have known for more than five years. The mother and father find day labor when they can. They pay taxes each year and live quiet, careful lives in upstate New York with their four young children. When they learned they would not qualify for Mr. Obama’s deferred action plan their faces fell; their anguish was barely contained.

This anguish is shared by millions. These are the people for whom America still needs to fulfill its promise of equal civil rights, a promise it spoke of more than 140 years ago.


Mario Russell is Senior Attorney and Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities, 80 Maiden Lane, NY, NY 10038; he teaches immigration law at St. John’s University School of Law.

 Click here to read this post online in Spanish.

President Obama Announces “My Brother’s Keeper” Initiative, a Mantra Here at Catholic Charities

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

High unemployment rates.  High incarceration rates.  Worst of all, sky-high murder rates among black men gunned down in their youth.

President Obama takes on these key issues in his just-announced “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, issues long-tackled by Catholic Charities.

This past month, for example, Catholic Charities Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Center in Harlem held its third annual Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. basketball tournament.  Run during the February schools break, it provided recreation during the winter recess to keep teens off the streets and inside a supportive environment.

Manhattan District attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (son of former U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance. Sr).  presented trophies and ribbon medals to the team members who are residents of Juvenal Justice System Homes. Each home comprised one team.

A special five-foot trophy was given to the one player who exhibited the best sportsmanship throughout the tournament.

The motto resounding through each of the five days was “Put down the guns, pick up a  ball and recreate. ”

And that’s what they did.  Each day different speakers addressed these youth with testimony and advise about how to survive adverse climates. Speakers included Inspector Rodney Harris, commander of the 32nd precinct, Deacon Rodney Beckford, director of Catholic Charities Community Services Kennedy Center and  numerous officers from NYPD.

Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. (Stop Another Violent Act) that helped sponsor the event was founded by Jackie  Rowe-Adams and fellow mothers who lost sons to gun violence. The group meets and holds events at Catholic Charities Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Community Center.

“I didn’t have a dad in the house,”  President Obama said when he announced the initiative named after the biblical phrase he often uses to share his belief that society must help those facing challenges.  “I made bad choices…I made excuses, sometimes I sold myself short.”

The time to change the cycle is now, President Obama continued.  His “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative will work with nonprofit agencies, churches and political leaders to fight back against the drum beat of violence and addiction that has plagued too many for too long.