Posts Tagged ‘The New York Times’

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.

A Refugee Crisis, Not an Immigration Crisis

Monday, July 21st, 2014

CRISTIAN OMAR REYES, an 11-year-old sixth grader in the neighborhood of Nueva Suyapa, on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, tells me he has to get out of Honduras soon — “no matter what,”  writes The New York Times Reporter Sonia Nazario in her in-depth analysis of the recent increase of unaccompanied minor children fleeing their homelands for safety in the United States.

In March, his father was robbed and murdered by gangs while working as a security guard protecting a pastry truck. His mother used the life insurance payout to hire a smuggler to take her to Florida. She promised to send for him quickly, but she has not.

Three people he knows were murdered this year. Four others were gunned down on a nearby corner in the span of two weeks at the beginning of this year. A girl his age resisted being robbed of $5. She was clubbed over the head and dragged off by two men who cut a hole in her throat, stuffed her panties in it, and left her body in a ravine across the street from Cristian’s house.

“I’m going this year,” he tells me.

Catholic Charities has first-hand knowledge of the trauma these vulnerable children face.  We provide legal, educational and social services to integrate newcomers of all religions from more than 100 countries.

In addition to families and adults, Catholic Charities team of lawyers and paralegals have provided basic legal orientations to almost 2,000 unaccompanied children in custodial shelters in the New York area in the past year alone, work with more than 70 sponsors of released children each month and provide individual legal representation to these children released from New York area shelters, a central step in their integration into their communities.

Link to the full New York Times story here.

Call the New Americans Hotline run by Catholic Charities at 800-566-7636 for immigration assistance.

Isolated by Speaking only an Indigenous Language

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Today marks another in our Summer Agency Series.  The series spotlights some of the 90 agencies in our Catholic Charities federation that, day in and day out, provide help and create hope for New Yorkers in need.

Today, let’s take a look at Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service and a recent story written about this Catholic Charities affiliate in The New York Times.

Laura is a Mexican immigrant who lives in East Harlem, a neighborhood with one of the largest Latino populations in New York City, reports Kirk Semple in this recent New York Times article. Yet she understands so little of what others are saying around her that she might just as well be living in Siberia.

Laura, 27, speaks Mixtec, a language indigenous to Mexico. But she knows little Spanish and no English. She is so scared of getting lost on the subway and not being able to find her way home that she tends to spend her days within walking distance of her apartment.

After arriving in New York, most indigenous Latin Americans will learn Spanish before they learn English — if they ever learn English at all. The need has driven demand for Spanish language classes around the city. About a decade ago, the staff at Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service, an organization in East Harlem that provides services to the poor, noticed that an increasing number of the students enrolling in its English as a second language classes were not only indigenous language speakers from Latin America but were also illiterate.

Reasoning that it would be easier to teach the newcomers Spanish, which they were beginning to pick up at home and on the street, the organization turned the English classes into Spanish classes.

Beyond the critical language and literacy instruction the classes provided, they also helped the newcomers build “a much-needed social support network,” said Rosemary Siciliano, head of communications for Little Sisters of the Assumption. In 2012, however, the organization had to cut the program because of budget shortfalls.

Little Sisters of the Assumption nurses, social workers and aides began working intensively in East Harlem in 1958 and incorporated Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service, Inc. ten years later.  This neighborhood-based nonprofit organization delivers a holistic model of human services to the underserved, marginalized and poorest families in East Harlem through a variety of means.  These include home visits, onsite services and support groups to help people achieve the wellness and strength they need to thrive.

 

Find out more about Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service

Read the full story in The New York Times.

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.

Immigrant Public Defender System Pays for Itself

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Celine and Refugee Family 002“Every year, tens of thousands of people appear in immigration court to fight deportation orders without a lawyer to assist them,” writes Reporter Kirk Semple in a recent article published in The New York Times. “Many are poor and adrift, unable to speak English or understand the laws determining their fate.”

Yet according to a study just released by the New York Bar Association that Mr. Semple describes, a system that provided legal counsel for every poor immigrant facing deportation would pay for itself through decreased government expenditures and other savings.

“It makes the argument for the first time that appointed counsel is cost-effective, as well as being fair and just,” said Mark Noferi, a fellow at the Center for Migration Studies, who advised National Economic Research Associates (NERA) on the report.

Catholic Charities knows firsthand the value of providing free or affordable legal counsel. For over thirty years, Catholic Charities has stood with New York’s immigrants—low-income and indigent, non-Catholics and Catholics alike—who face deportation in the courts, in local detention facilities, and, most recently, in custodial shelters for unaccompanied children where we serve almost 2,000 children each year.

We understand that deportation can be a far worse punishment than most criminal penalties, one that might mean the loss of family, home and security. Every week, in shelter facilities for unaccompanied youth across the New York area, our team of lawyers and paralegals encounter many of the thousands of children in the United States who have fled alone, from abuse and violence in their homelands and who seek the comfort of a parent or loved one here.

Every month at our offices downtown, we meet and defend newcomers and long-time residents against unjust deportation proceedings. Some had all their money taken by unscrupulous or unlawful practitioners.  Some have been tangled for years in a legal system that is among the most complex and under-resourced in the nation. Some are profoundly disoriented from just arriving to the United States after fleeing persecution or violence. Almost all are exhausted and without hope.

The legal consultation, representation, and assistance Catholic Charities provides  each day is what immigrants need to rebuild their lives. It is what creates hope and a just and compassionate society.

Services are provided in English, Spanish, French, Romanian, Polish, Albanian, Japanese, and Arabic.

All matters are treated professionally and confidentially.

If you have a question about an immigration matter, please call us at the New Americans Hotline at 800-566-7636.

For help finding other services, please call our Catholic Charities Help line at 888-744-7900.

Read the full cost-analysis study.

Read the full story in The New York Times.

 

Hardship Makes a New Home in the Suburbs

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Hardship Makes a New Home in the Suburbs“The freeway exits around here are dotted with people asking for money, holding cardboard signs to tell their stories,” reports Jennifer Medina in this recent article in The New York Times. “The details vary only slightly and almost invariably include: Laid off. Need food. Young children.”

Mary Carmen Acosta often passes the silent beggars as she enters parking lots to sell homemade ice pops, known as paletas, in an effort to make enough money to get food for her family of four. On a good day she can make $100, about double what she spends on ingredients. On a really good day, she pockets $120, the extra money offering some assurance that she will be able to pay the $800 monthly rent for her family’s three-bedroom apartment. Sometimes, usually on mornings too cold to sell icy treats, she imagines what it would be like to stand on an exit ramp herself …

For the last year, Ms. Acosta spent much of her time at the local Catholic Charities office, taking self-help classes with other women in similar circumstances. She earned $100 a month enrolling women in courses on healthy diets, balancing checkbooks and parenting skills. She keeps a folder thick with certificates she has earned in such classes. A letter from President Obama thanking her for volunteering at her son’s school, calling her a “shining example,” is tucked in a protective plastic sleeve. The few friends she has made here, she said, are the women she has met at Catholic Charities…

Sitting inside Catholic Charities offers a glimpse of the constant need: this family needs extra cash to pay the utility bill; this single mother cannot find child care to allow her to work a graveyard shift; that elderly man who came from Mexico has no way to pay for his medication…

Imelda Santana, whose desk is just a few feet away from the entrance, is often the first stop for requests. Ms. Santana is empathetic — just a couple of years ago she needed help after her husband left her and she lost her job as a loan officer amid the housing crisis. After working as a volunteer for months, Ms. Santana was hired to sift through requests to see which families the organization might assist. Even on the best days, she said, there are more demands than they can handle. …

‘We have people here who used to make donations now knowing what it is to run out of toilet paper in their house and not have the money to buy more,’ she said.

Catholic Charities is often the first stop for those in need, non-Catholics and Catholics alike, throughout the United States. The hungry family such as Ms. Acosta’s, the neglected child and the lonely senior come to us for help and hope. We rebuild lives and touch almost every human need promptly, locally, day in and day out, always with compassion and dignity.

Do you need help?

• Call our Catholic Charities Help Line at 888-744-7900
Email us through our contact form.

Read the full story in The New York Times.

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.

Meet Ted Staniecki, Catholic Charities’ Unsung Hero

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Old women with walkers shuffled towards the Catholic Charities Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Center in Harlem last month through a foot of snow and ice.  Moms with hungry children in tow herded towards its food bank.

Ted Staniecki, the center’s facilities manager, grabbed a snow shovel with Kennedy Center Director Rodney Beckford,  fellow staff Hector Estrella and Jose Crisostomo, and dug and scraped until they cleared a path.

Times like these are what Ted says he likes most about his job.

It’s Ted’s low key, hands-on approach facing down hurdles that make him a hero among those who know him best.

“I don’t think enjoying my job is work,” Ted says, “so I haven’t worked a day in my life.”

The son of a Waldorf-Astoria doorman, Ted, before transferring his talents to Catholic Charities, worked his way up from middle school teacher and coach to Washington Heights Incarnation School principal.

This was “back in the days,” wrote a Daily News reporter “when the streets outside were so dangerous team members would have to dive to the sidewalk when gangsters pulled out Uzis.”

Challenges Ted braved were so extreme that news outlets across the city covered them.  The Wall Street Journal wrote about how Ted, the founder, driver, assistant couch and all-around godfather of the Incarnation Angels girls CYO basketball team, brought them to city championship in 1997.  Meanwhile, the team shared their home court, the Fort Washington armory shelter, with 1,400 homeless men.

The same year, The New York Times covered a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing public school teachers to provide remedial instruction to students in Catholic school classrooms.  Sounds logical now, but for the prior 12 years, federal law forbid public school teachers from instructing students with special needs on Catholic school property.

So 200 of Incarnation School’s 520 students grades K – 8 would traipse out of the school for remedial help.  They studied in three trailers parked nearby as drivers idled the vans for power and lights.

“We finally got some common sense,” Ted told The Times.

After retiring from Catholic schools, Ted worked as director of the West Bronx CYO Center.  Then, five years ago, he came to Catholic Charities Kennedy Center.

Similar to its Harlem neighborhood, the Center, he says, needed reviving.

“Kennedy Center needed a paint job; it needed pictures; it needed people,” Ted says.

Deacon Rodney Beckford took over as Kennedy Center’s director, joining Ted and a host of supportive staff and administration to transform the once-sleepy center to one now exploding with activity.  From sunrise to sunset, seven days a week, activities ranging from Harambee dance to gospel choirs, from basketball games to social service programs, fill the four-story building with song and action.

Harlem, in turn, is undergoing a similar revival.  The famous Lenox Lounge reopened along with the Red Rooster restaurant.  Congressmen Charlie Rangel lives across the street from Kennedy Center.  Governor David Patterson and former Mayor David Dinkins live nearby.

“Kennedy fits in well helping the neighborhood heal from the tough times it’s been through,” Ted says. “Our staff is balanced – all nationalities – and people who come here just see someone who is here, who is going to help them, going to respect them.”

Read more about Ted in the New York Times.

Read more about Ted  in the New York Daily News.

Mourning the Death of Philip Seymour Hoffman

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Gabriel Buoys Agence France - Presse - Getty Images

Catholic Charities joins in mourning the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the most widely admired actors of our time, who died on Sunday at the age of 46 of a heroin overdose.

Thanks to appearances in such movies as “Capote”, for which he won a best actor Oscar, The Big Lebowski and The Savages, his ease at combining a somehow laid-back intensity with an offbeat sense of humor made millions of us viewers identify with him as Mr. Everyman.

Unfortunately, Mr. Hoffman was also known for his struggle with addiction.  He said on a 2006 “60 Minutes” interview that he had given up drugs and alcohol when he was 22, according to his obituary in The New York Times.  Then last year he checked into a rehabilitation program for about 10 days after a reliance on prescription pills resulted in his turning again to heroin.

He is survived by numerous family members as well as his three young children.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction there is no need to struggle alone.

Catholic Charities affiliated agencies offer specific programs to help treat and overcome addiction.  We helped treat 8,677 teenagers and adults last year for substance abuse.

Please contact us at:

 

Slide Show:  Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman:  The New York Times

New York Times Reports Increased Demand for Food Banks as Donations Decline

Friday, January 24th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Exacerbating cuts made last November in food stamp programs that feed the hungry, Congress is now eying significant additional reductions, reports The New York Times on Wednesday, January 22.

“Food banks across the country,” reports The New York Times, “are increasing efforts to prepare for the increased demand even as donations decline.”*

It is crucial now more than ever to join with us in Feeding Our Neighbors, our united effort to fight hunger.

Now in its third year, Catholic Charities will be joined by UJA/Federation to make Feeding Our Neighbors 2014 an interfaith campaign on behalf of New York’s hungry.

Starting January 26th, we’ll be leveraging our collective reach and already expansive networks for even greater impact — with the goal of collecting and distributing a combined one million meals to feed the hungry throughout New York.

Too many children and families struggle every day with hunger.

Feeding Our Neighbors, An Interfaith Response unites Catholic Charities and UJA-Federation of New York, two of the largest faith-based, not-for-profit organizations, to combine efforts to help fight hunger and replenish dwindling supplies.

You can be part of this united effort.  Help us collect and distribute food packages across pantries and shelters throughout the New York area.

Because ultimately, we do the most when we do it together.

Please join us!

Click here to donate – and write “Feeding Our Neighbors” in the comments field.

Reading this on your smart phone?  Text CCHOPE to 85944 to make a one-time $10 donation.   (Standard text rates apply.)

*Read the full story in The New York Times.