Camilo and Jose Miranda at the Office of Catholic Migration Services. Photo: Immigrant Justice Corps
José Miranda, an Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC) second-year fellow was assigned to Catholic Migration Services during the Fall of 2018. Now a Staff Attorney for the Removal Defense Project with the Immigration Program, José was recently profiled by IJC and recalled his first client experience at Catholic Migration Services, a Nicaguaran family in need of immigration assistance assigned to the “FAMU” (family unit) docket.
Camilo and his family arrived at the U.S. southern border in August of 2018 seeking safety and protection after being targeted by the Frente Sandinista Liberación Nacional (FSLN) who wanted to use their home as a shelter for confrontations with the anti-Sandinista student protesters and as a place to store weapons. The family refused and death threats against their lives steadily increased. After a near kidnapping of their son, the family fled Nicaragua and journeyed to the US. border seeking asylum.
After a dangerous trip, they soon reached the U.S. where Camilo, his wife, and two children were detained in a privately-run detention center in Texas for six days and later released after passing their credible fear hearing. On their way to New York, they sought assistance from Catholic Migration Services where they met José. Through the representation of Catholic Migration Services, José advocated on behalf of Camilo and his family during an expedited case in immigration court which led to a successful outcome for our client.
Read the full write-up by Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC): “You can say happy but the word isn’t enough.”
Plaintiff “Vincent” Cao at the Chinese Staff & Workers’ Association.
The Chinese Staff & Workers’ Association (“CSWA”), a partner organization in the CILEC consortium, contacted Catholic Migration Services in late 2018 with a request for legal assistance for a number of workers that they had been organizing who were owed significant sums of wages. The group had worked in a Chinatown dim sum restaurant and most were owed up to eight weeks of unpaid wages when the restaurant closed its doors in August 2018. Jin Ming “Vincent” Cao, an organizer with CSWA, is one of the many workers who was owed unpaid wages and decided to sue his former employers, Joy Luck Palace Restaurant, its owners and its general manager. Catholic Migration Services filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of 19 of those workers, most of whom were Chinese immigrants, employed by Joy Luck Palace restaurant for about two and a half years. The group of workers, consisting of captains, servers, and bussers, pleaded violations of federal and state minimum wage and overtime laws, state spread-of-hours laws, state notice and paystub provisions, and state laws governing the purchase and maintenance of uniforms. The employers failed to participate in the litigation, and, after reviewing the workers’ sworn testimony and employment records, the judge overseeing the case ordered the employers to pay the full amount of damages that the workers sought in the litigation, totaling approximately $950,000.
Although a win for Vincent and his former coworkers, the 19 employees have yet to collect on their owed wages. According to a NY Daily News article, Vincent believes that recovery of the workers’ wages will be an uphill battle, stating that “the restaurant’s owners and operators had plenty of time to hide their assets as the lawsuit ground a conclusion.” Thomas Power, an attorney with Catholic Migration Services who represented the 19 workers in that federal case shared Vincent’s concerns that judgment collection will likely be difficult sharing that “it’s fair to suspect that [the defendants] have taken some steps to move their assets.” Power added that “there is a bill that was recently passed by the New York State legislature, which advocates refer to as the SWEAT Bill, that would give workers some extra tools to help their efforts in recovering unpaid wages.” As of the date of this posting, that new piece of legislation currently awaits Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature.
In fact, every year, workers in New York State are cheated out of an estimated $1 Billion that they earn but are not paid. Immigrant workers bear the brunt of this wage-theft, often toiling in low-wage industries where they don’t receive minimum wage or overtime, and sometimes receive no wages at all for days or weeks of work. To learn how you can help fight this epidemic, click here.
Read the full article in the NY Daily News: Workers in NYS are owed up to $1 billion in stolen wages: experts
Workers and Advocates Rally to Stop Wage Theft in the Capitol with Assembly sponsor Linda Rosenthal. Photo Credit: SWEAT NEW YORK
Every year, workers in New York State are cheated out of an estimated $1 Billion that they earn but are not paid. Immigrant workers bear the brunt of this wage-theft, often toiling in low-wage industries where they don’t receive minimum wage or overtime, and sometimes receive no wages at all for days or weeks of work. You can help fight this epidemic.
Earlier this year, the New York State Legislature passed the Securing Wages Earned Against Theft Act (the SWEAT Act). Catholic Migration Services played an integral role in securing thepassage of this bill, which provides critical tools to workers, the NY Department of Labor and the NYS Attorney General in their efforts to recover unpaid wages from their employers. Too often, employers evade accountability by hiding and transferring their assets once they are sued by employees or are under investigation by the government. Workers and the government obtain judgments for millions of dollars that they never collect. The result is that workers don’t get their hard earned wages, and their families suffer the impacts – inability to pay for the essentials of life, and increased reliance on public benefits. The SWEAT Act will make it harder for employers to evade accountability for wage-theft, and reduce wage-theft in New York State.
You can help the SWEAT Act become law. Although both houses of the NY State legislature passed the SWEAT Act in June, it must be signed by Governor Cuomo before it becomes law. Please urge Governor Cuomo to sign the SWEAT Act (Bill No. S2844B) by calling him at (518) 474-8390, or writing to him at: The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of New York State, New York State Capitol Building, Albany, NY 12247.
For more information about the SWEAT Act, visit http://sweatnys.org/.
Catholic Migration Services (“CMS”), a nonprofit provider of legal services for low and moderate income residents of Queens and Brooklyn, is seeking a full-time supervising attorney for our immigration department.
The Removal Defense Project of the CMS Immigration Unit seeks a full-time, highly motivated, experienced, and passionate immigration attorney to join our dynamic team. The attorney will counsel and represent individuals before the Executive Office for Immigration Review and before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The attorney will also represent individuals in Family Court in guardianship and custody hearings and assist with special outreach events and community-based legal clinics in Brooklyn and Queens. The attorney will report to the Supervising Attorney of the Removal Defense Project. This is for a full-time position in our Brooklyn office, but the attorney may be required to work from our Queens office and travel to other locations within the City periodically.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities:
- Provide representation and legal advice to clients in removal proceedings before the Executive Office for Immigration Review seeking all types of relief, including but not limited to: Asylum, Cancellation of Removal, 212(c), and others;
- Represent clients before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and in New
York State Family Court;
- Represent clients before federal appellate bodies and district courts with supervisor approval;
- Maintain client files in good working order and routinely update case information in Lawlogix case management database;
- Participate in CMS staff meeting and case reviews;
- Attend USCIS and EOIR stakeholder meetings and local practitioner working group meeting as required;
- Report on outcomes and demographic information for grants;
- Assist in outreach and educational events with partner community based organizations and parishes in Brooklyn and Queens; and
- Assist in the supervision of interns and fellows.
- Admission to the New York State Bar;
- 1+ years of previous experience practicing in Immigration Law including clinical and internship experience;
- Demonstrated commitment to public interest work;
- Excellent written, oral and analytical skills;
- Fluency in Spanish language;
- Excellent organizational skills;
- Basic computer skills;
- Demonstrated ability to take initiative and work independently; and
- Experience working with clients from diverse backgrounds and communities in a non judgmental and culturally sensitive manner
Applications will be accepted immediately and will be considered on a rolling basis. Interested applicants should send a cover letter, resume, list of three professional references and two writing samples to: Alexandra Goncalves-Pena, Managing Attorney, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include “RDP Attorney Application” in the subject line.
Download this job announcement as a PDF
Presione aquí para la versión en Español
Peze la pou tradui nan Kreyol Ayisyen
Last month Catholic Migration Services notified the community of a potential change to the “Public Charge” rule that would have impacted who can enter the U.S. and who would have been eligible for a green card.
Catholic Migration Services would like to inform the immigrant community, that in a huge victory for our immigrant communities, on October 11, 2019 a U.S. District Court Judge in New York issued a nationwide injunction against the Trump administration’s “Public Charge” rule. This means that the new “Public Charge” rule, which was to go into effect on October 15, 2019, is now blocked from going forward. Additionally, this means that for now individuals applying for green cards and filing family based petitions are not currently affected by the new rule. It is almost certain that the legal fight will continue, but, for now, the rules applying to the “Public Charge” determination within the United States have not changed.
Catholic Migration Services will continue to update information in the near future to reflect any further changes. All are encouraged to visit our website for future updates, training sessions and workshops.
For Free Help
All immigrants who may apply for an immigration benefit in the future should seek advice about whether receipt of public benefits may impact their ability to apply for that future benefit. For free assistance, call the New Americans Hotline at 1 (800) 566-7636 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call Catholic Migration Services Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at (718) 236-3000 or (347) 472-3500.
Download this immigration update as a PDF.