Posts Tagged ‘unaccompanied minors’

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.

Catholic Charities Welcomes Unaccompanied Minors While Upholding Law

Friday, August 8th, 2014

NOTE: All photos require the written permission of copyright holder Maria R. Bastone for usage. NO MODEL RELEASES; NO SALES; NO TRANSFER OF RIGHTS TO THIRD PARTYCatholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan stressed in a Catholic New York  front page story that the Church’s stance on helping unaccompanied minors seeking asylum is “entirely in keeping with the law, specifically a law passed by Congress in 2008 and signed by President George W. Bush to curb child trafficking.”

That law requires that the government allow minors from Central America time to seek protection in the United States, and not be subject to immediate deportation as is the case with illegal immigrants from Mexico.

‘The current situation of the surge of children arriving at the southern border is one in which in the tradition of this country, those who are fleeing violence, fear of persecution or abuse in their own countries are given refuge in this country for a humanitarian purpose,” he explained . “What we are doing now as a country and what Catholic Charities is doing is providing that safe haven for those seeking to flee from abuse and violence in their native countries.’

‘Where this relates to the overall immigration question is, and this needs to be said very clearly, the Catholic Church is not in favor of illegal immigration. It is for that reason that we believe the laws of this country need to be reformed and a comprehensive approach needs to be taken, which provides for a fair and humane legal immigration system that doesn’t precipitate illegal immigration.’

Read the full interview in Catholic New York.

Cardinal Dolan Says Mass with Immigrant Children

Monday, August 4th, 2014

By Alice Kenny


Check out this slide show

With unaccompanied minors serving as acolytes and filling the chapel, Cardinal Dolan celebrated mass on Sunday, August 3, at Catholic Charities affiliate Lincoln Hall.

These children who recently fled their homelands to escape violence and seek reunification with family members are finding safety at Lincoln Hall, a 19th-century mountain fortress whose history of protecting children alone and in need dates back to the orphans it took in during the Civil Wars

“Caring for the downtrodden, the outcast, the stranger among us, is part of our call as Catholics and we here in the Archdiocese of New York have been doing just that for more than 200 years,” Cardinal Dolan wrote in his recent blog post about the mass.

Every week, in cottages that dot a bluff at Lincoln Hall in Northern Westchester and in shelter facilities for unaccompanied youth across the area, Catholic Charities’ team of lawyers and paralegals encounters 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.

“Pope Francis said it so well,” Cardinal Dolan wrote on his blog, “when he reminded us that ‘this humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected.’

“And that is just what Catholic Charities, parishes, professionals and volunteers throughout the country are doing.”

Children Fleeing Violence Reach New York

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

“Immigration service providers and the city are working closely to streamline resources for the 3,200 child migrants who have reunited with family in New York,” reports Amelia Pang in Epoch Times. “But for the additional 10,000 who are expected to arrive in New York by the end of the year, it is unclear how such services will be funded for them. And for many, mental health care is a top priority.”

New York City service providers and government officials met last week to discuss the coordinated strategy they are undertaking, as part of the New York State Unaccompanied Minors Working Group.

“The working group brings together experts in immigration, legal advice, education, social services, medical and mental health services,” reports Rebecca S. Myles in the Latin Post.

According to organizers, more than half the children are coming to New York to reunite with a mother or father, and more than two-thirds are fleeing some kind of violence or threatening situation in their homeland. Fifty percent of the girls have suffered some kind of psychological trauma or abuse, and they are especially vulnerable.

 We need more resources to fund this,” said Steven Choi, executive director of New York Immigration Coalition (of which Catholic Charities is a member) tells Ms. Pang of Epoch Times.

The most important services the migrant children will need are attorneys and mental health care, and both are costly.

According to a United Nations report, 60 percent of child migrants are eligible for relief. The children, however, are not likely to receive relief if they do not have an attorney.

“Catholic Charities has a longstanding, comprehensive knowledge of the humanitarian plight faced by immigrants, including unaccompanied children, and we are looking forward to creating a coordinated response to this new call for help,” said  Mario C. Russell, Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services for Catholic Charities.

“Every week in residences for unaccompanied children in the New York area, our lawyers meet with and give preliminary legal assistance to dozens of immigrant children, over 2,000 in this year alone. This gives us first-hand knowledge of the trauma these young people have experienced, trauma that we have begun to attend to through our Safe Passages program and through Terra Firma, an innovative medical-legal partnership designed to meet the complex medical, psycho-social, and legal needs of unaccompanied minors.”

Read more in the Latin Post.

Find out more in the Epoch Times.

Children Need High-Quality Health Care Regardless of Citizenship

Monday, July 7th, 2014

By Irwin Redlener

June 25, 2014

The justified outrage over detained minors in California, Oklahoma and Texas has focused the nation’s attention on what is only the tip of the iceberg. While the number of apprehended, unaccompanied Central American children could reach 90,000 this year, an estimated 1 million undocumented children already live among us.

But this is not just a Southwestern story. In New York and other cities with large immigrant communities, newly arrived children are desperate for medical attention, legal services, and help finding family members.

Ask pediatrician Alan Shapiro, medical director of Children’s Health Fund’s Montefiore-based medical programs for highly disadvantaged kids in New York City. In cooperation with Catholic Charities New York, he recently co-founded Terra Firma, an innovative medical-legal partnership designed to meet the complex medical, psycho-social, and legal needs of unaccompanied minors. “Their life experience is marked by multiple traumas in their home countries, on their journey north and here in the U.S.,” Shapiro explains. “As a society, it is our responsibility to heal them, not to compound the trauma.”

“Tomás,” a teenage boy participating in a support group at Terra Firma’s South Bronx clinic, recently showed Shapiro a photo of a relative who had been killed as punishment for not joining a Central American gang. When the pediatrician asked who else has seen anyone killed, all hands were raised. Needless to say, this is part of a humanitarian crisis rooted in severe international poverty.

Predictably, Tomás suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder, which in his case manifested as depression, frequent nightmares and insomnia. But thanks to the care he (and the other kids lucky enough to have found Terra Firma) is receiving, Tomas is now going to school, learning English, and working.

Read the full story in USA Today.

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 to learn more.