Posts Tagged ‘refugee resettlement’

A Thank You Note That Made Our Day

Friday, May 29th, 2015

EntranceInternationalCntr-15smBy Alice Kenny

There is already a lot of buzz about how our Refugee Resettlement department helps people who fled torture and oppression in their native lands.

These refugees often once held high positions.

And they often arrive here with nearly nothing; no English, no job.  Just an undefined hope for a better future.

But what does our help really mean to them?

Take a look at this thank you note.  It’s from one of our clients who received help from our casework and job development team.

It speaks for itself – and it made our day.

I am very much pleased to inform you that I have got my Green Card in the last of March.

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to you for everything.

When I was hungry, you gave me food; when I was jobless you gave me job; when nobody was beside me in real, you gave me hope and encouragement.

I never saw angels, but it seems to me that the spirit of angels exist in you.

I can never forget what you have done for me.

May God bless you.

We thank you for your support!

Without a Lawyer in Immigration Court, Children Are Lost

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

 

 

The premier Spanish-language newspaper, El Diario, turns to Catholic Charities Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services C. Mario Russell for regular updates on immigration reform. 

By C. Mario Russell

Catholic Charities New York

Isabel, 16 years old and 4 months pregnant, fled Honduras with her aunt last April. They were on the run because Isabel’s boyfriend’s brother, a notorious gang leader, had assassinated Isabel’s mother weeks before and they feared retribution for having reported the murder to the police.

U.S. Immigration apprehended Isabel at the border and transferred her to the Bronx for deportation proceedings. Six months later, in October, I met Isabel, who was a very young, new mother. She had not yet seen an immigration judge and her asylum-filing deadline was about to pass. She had no lawyer.

Had Isabel crossed the border alone—like the 51,000 children who did so last year—she would have been placed in temporary shelter care with the Office of Refugee Resettlement. She would also have been given a legal orientation and consultation. She would have immediately seen a judge. And she might have been assigned a free lawyer through a federal program or through a collaborative legal defense program for Unaccompanied Minors in New York City. By some estimates, almost 50-percent of Unaccompanied Minors have a lawyer.

But Isabel is not an Unaccompanied Minor. She crossed the border with her aunt so the Department of Homeland Security labeled her an “accompanied” child. This means Isabel’s deportation case was put indefinitely on hold. She was not entitled to shelter care or to a legal orientation and she was not eligible for a free lawyer. Last year, over 68,000 children like Isabel—accompanied by family—were apprehended at the border. Little has been reported about these children.

But the consequences for children facing the court system alone are staggering. Unable to mount a case in their own defense—whether for asylum or special immigrant juvenile protection—they might permanently be disqualified because of missed filing deadlines and, as a result, ordered deported in absentia. A 2011 report from a panel headed by a federal judge found that immigrants with lawyers are five times more likely to win their cases than those who represent themselves. A recent analysis shows that 90-percent of children who have a lawyer appear in court. But without a lawyer, only 10-percent, most lacking the courage, knowledge or understanding of English and U.S. law, attend these key proceedings. This should not come as a surprise. What 16 year old facing deportation to a violence-filled country would show up in court without a lawyer to defend her?

Children facing life or death consequences in immigration court shouldn’t suffer because there is not enough legal assistance. While not every child may have a legal right to remain here, each deserves due process and legal representation in court. The U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause and the Immigration and Nationality Act’s provisions requiring a “full and fair hearing” before an immigration judge should require the government to provide all children with legal representation in their deportation hearings. Isabel and children like her deserve defense.

* Names have been changed

 

  1. 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.

Read this in Spanish now in El Diario.

Be Sure to Catch Larry and Friends

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Larry and Friends Event Flyer FINALBy Alice Kenny

Nearly two dozen immigrants, refugees, children and staff listened spellbound last week at Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement department in downtown Manhattan as an illustrator and writer, each New York based but bred in another land, shared their just-published story, Larry and Friends, an ode to immigration, diversity, friendship and acceptance.

The reading served as the kick off for a conversation about challenges immigrants face, some as obvious as learning a new language, others as surprising as getting used to the way Americans coddle their pets.

“Events like this help to create community with the clients we serve,” Catholic Charities Director of Refugee Resettlement Kelly Agnew-Barjas said after the event.

The book, filled with illustrations reminiscent of Maurice Sendak’s famed Where the Wild Things Are, was illustrated by Ecuadorian-born Carla Torres and written by Belgian-born, Venezuelan-raised Nat Jasper. Its silly yet sensitive story features a drum-beating African zebra, a tight-rope artist Polish pig, a Colombian street musician alligator and fellow ambitious animals relocated to New York City from around the world.

“We work so hard to help clients and we engage in very serious issues every day,” Ms. Agnew-Barajas added. “It’s important to step back and remember that we are part of a larger immigrant experience in New York City.”

It’s NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK – Let’s Celebrate!

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Two Ten Footwear Foundation paint murals to brighten group homes for the mentally ill.

By Alice Kenny

It’s National Volunteer Week, April 6-12, 2014, our opportunity to celebrate our volunteers’ dedication in helping others and encourage others to join the movement.

And while this is Volunteer Week, here at Catholic Charities, where the breadth of the services we offer depends on giving volunteers, every day is Volunteer Day.

We already have celebrations scheduled for our Refugee Resettlement and International Center volunteers on April 22 at 80 Maiden Lane.  And our Alianza division that provides artistic outlets for teens will hold their volunteer celebration on April 24 at La Plaza Beacon.

Join us in celebrating our wonderful volunteers.

Join us in helping change lives.

Getting started as a volunteer is as easy as 1-2-3.

Step One:
Browse our site

Step Two:
Sign up for an orientation.

Step Three:
Roll up your sleeves and join us.

 

 

 

 

Tragedy, Poverty and Oppression Tear Immigrant Families Apart

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Looking for help reuniting with your family? Catholic Charities helps immigrants and refugees reunite with family members in two ways: through the legal immigration process, and through the refugee resettlement process. In both programs, highly skilled staff helps navigate the complicated rules and applications required by the U.S. government for family members to enter the United States.

Click here to find a Catholic Charities agency that can help.

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

Looking for help with other needs?  Call the Catholic Charities Help line at: 888-744-7900.

Immigration Change to Ease Family Separations

Friday, January 4th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

“Obama administration officials unveiled rules on Wednesday that will allow many American citizens — perhaps hundreds of thousands — to avoid long separations from immediate family members who are illegal immigrants as they apply to become legal residents.” Read more from The New York Times.

Catholic Charities helps immigrants and refugees reunite with family members in two ways: through the legal immigration process, and through the refugee resettlement process. In both programs, highly skilled staff helps family members navigate the complicated rules and applications required by the U.S. government for family members to enter the United States.

If you need help in finding the services you need, please call Catholic Charities at the New York State New Americans Hotline,1-800-566-7636.

 

 

The Power of Love Turns Life Around

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

By Alice Kenny

When Patrice Mbekeli first came to Catholic Charities he had just escaped torture in his native Cameroon, was penniless and slept on subway cars. After the Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement staff teamed up with the New York Times Neediest Cases campaign to publicize his plight, Patrice was offered work, a home and a ticket to his family’s future.

Last month, Patrice wrote Catholic Charities to let us know that he is on track to receive his PhD. as a pharmacist. “I am the pure product of your love and commitment,” he wrote. “Only the power of love can completely turn around a life as it happened to mine.”

Read more about how, with your help, Catholic Charities teams up with the New York Times Neediest Cases Campaign and helps turn lives around. 

Announcing New Services for the International Community in New York

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

When the New York Times reported that a nonprofit that had served New York’s immigrant and refugee community for 50 years would have to close its doors, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York stepped in to ensure that the critical services provided by the organization could still continue.

This month, Catholic Charities recreated the services that had been provided by the International Center, previously located in Chelsea, to complement existing Catholic Charities services for immigrants and refugees.

The new services, which range from job readiness and skills training, to English language classes, to educational enrichment programs, are currently being led at the Catholic Charities headquarters by four former International Center employees, now part of the Catholic Charities staff: Mira Erickson, Shawn Mullin, Anna Petelka and Elaine Roberts.

One of the most prized services is the “conversation partners” program, where volunteers are matched with students to serve as English language tutors, and as a source of encouragement to continue learning and pursuing their goals.

According to staff, this program “provides an atmosphere of trust and support that … is often not as easy to create in a classroom setting. As in any successful language learning situation, it is a partnership of equals: while the newcomer works on acquiring the language, the volunteer works on developing strategies of engaging in a subtle process of mobilizing, inspiring, monitoring, and guiding.”

Volunteers are a large part of what have made these services to the international community so successful for the past 50 years. Many who received services have gone on to become volunteers, teaching and mentoring future students.

 

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