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The Covid-19 Rent Crisis Is Here

As hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers lose their jobs or part of their income due to the pandemic, Catholic Migration Services is assisting tenants who are thinking of going on a “rent strike” – refusing to pay rent. As of May 1st, more than 50 buildings with 1,000 tenants are on rent strike — the largest rent strike in nearly 100 years. These tenants are asking the government of New York State to cancel rent for those who cannot pay, cancel mortgages for small landlords, and cancel utility payments, in order to prevent mass displacement and evictions once New York’s eviction moratorium is lifted. In some cases, tenants may also be demanding that their landlords make urgently needed repairs and maintain their buildings adequately to prevent the spread of the virus.

In a recent article in the Wired, Agustin Pérez, a tenant leader working with Catholic Migration Services shares his experience after recently losing his job due to the COVID-19 pandemic and with two young children and a wife on maternity leave, he is doing everything he can to keep his family healthy and safe.

Read the full story in the Wired: The Covid-19 Rent Crisis Is Here

To learn more about the history and purpose of rent strikes, and what you can do as a tenant, visit www.rightotcounselnyc.org and see images from the @RTCNYC @HOUSINGFORALLNY
*Catholic Migration Services advises any tenant considering a rent strike to try to speak with an attorney before striking. If you would like help organizing a rent strike in your building, contact Amy Collado at (347) 472-3500, extension 1021. You may obtain free legal advice about going on rent strike by calling Andrew Lehrer at (347) 472-3500, extension 1026.

Legal Services NYC Sues NYC Immigration Courts for Refusing to Postpone Filing Deadlines Amid COVID-19, Putting Countless Lives at Risk

On April 29, 2020 Legal Services NYC and Catholic Migration Services as an organizational plaintiff – filed a lawsuit before the Southern District of New York against the Executive Office for Immigration Review, AKA “immigration court” (EOIR) challenging the EOIR’s requirement that all litigants with cases currently pending before it continue to meet previously established filing deadlines even in the face of a global pandemic.

What this means practically is that if a legal worker practicing before the immigration court had a filing due at any time during this COVID-19 pandemic and gubernatorial shelter-in-place, they are still required to meet that deadline or risk running afoul of a court order and more importantly causing potentially irreparable harm to their clients and their case. This case seeks to force the agency to enjoin the enforcement of all immigration court deadlines until 45 days after all shelter in place orders are lifted.

Read the full press release from Legal Services NYC: Legal Services NYC Sues NYC Immigration Courts for Refusing to Postpone Filing Deadlines Amid COVID-19, Putting Countless Lives at Risk

Click here to download the full complaint.

The Presidential Proclamation Suspending Entry of Certain Immigrants During the Recovery to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Presione aquí para la versión en Español

Who does the Presidential Proclamation impact?
The Proclamation Impacts Immigrants who are:

  1. Outside the U.S. on April 23, 2020 and 
  2. Do not have an immigrant visa (meaning, had not had the consular interview and been approved to enter the United States) on or before April 23, 2020, and 
  3. Do not have travel document (advance parole, transportation letter, or boarding foil) valid on April 23, 2020 or issued after that date, and
  4. Are trying to enter the U.S. as a step in the green card process in the next 60 days. 

The Proclamation Does NOT Impact Immigrants Who:

  • Were inside the United States on April 23, 2020, or
  • Are already lawful permanent residents (green card holders), or
  • Have an immigrant visa that was valid on April 23, 2020, or
  • Have an official travel document (advance parole, transportation letter, or boarding foil) that is valid on April 23, 2020 or issued after that date, or
  • Are the spouse or under-21 child of a U.S. Citizen, or
  • Are healthcare workers, physicians, medical researchers, or other researchers combating the pandemic, or their spouse or unmarried, under-21 children, or
  • Recognized as essential workers, their spouse and unmarried, under-21 children, or
  • Have a student, temporary worker, or other non-immigrant visa, or
  • Are a member of the U.S. military or their spouse and children, or
  • Are seeking asylum, withholding of removal, protection under the Convention Against Torture, or refugee status, or
  • Are entering on Special Immigrant Visas with SI or SQ classifications, or
  • Are a prospective adoptee of a U.S. Citizen under the IR-4 or IH-4 classifications or
  • Applying for a visa through the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program, or
  • Are determined to be a person whose entry would further important law enforcement objectives, or
  • Are determined to be entering “in the national interest”

What does the Proclamation say about non-immigrant visas?
For now, the Presidential Proclamation does not affect non-immigrant visas. However, the Proclamation hints that within the next 30 days, the Trump Administration will be considering whether to include non-immigrant visas in a similar executive action in the near future.

Does this really “temporarily suspend immigration into the United States” like the President said it would? Does it impact people who are already permanent residents?
No. There are many immigrants who will continue to be able to enter the United States. The Proclamation’s effect is small especially because many government offices had already closed or reduced operations because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It does not ban immigrants who are already permanent residents. For now, the Proclamation is set to last for only 60 days, although that period could be extended.

What is the purpose of this Proclamation?
In the Proclamation, the President says he thinks immigrants would compete with U.S. citizen workers for jobs during the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the time immigrants do not compete with U.S. citizens for jobs, but instead increase job opportunities for citizens. According to the Small Business Administration, immigrants are 30% more likely to start a business. Businesses owned by immigrants hire workers. Immigrants put billions of dollars into our economy. The Presidential Proclamation is based on false and anti-immigrant beliefs. The Trump Administration seems to be trying to take advantage of the current crisis to cut immigration to the United States.

Questions?
Please contact Catholic Migration Services in Brooklyn at (718) 236-3000 or in Queens at (347) 472-3500.

Download this update as a PDF.

Catholic Migration Services and Co-Counsel File Case on Behalf of Home Care Workers Seeking Justice in the Workplace

On April 8, 2020, Catholic Migration Services along with co-counsel at the firm of Eisner & Dictor, P.C., filed a case in the Southern District of New York on behalf of 19 home care workers, seeking millions of dollars of hard earned, yet unpaid wages. The workers are current and former employees of Avondale Care Group and were organized by the National Mobilization Against Sweatshops (NMASS), a partner organization that works with, and advocates on behalf of home care workers throughout New York City. For years, our clients logged 24-hour, round-the-clock shifts with Avondale, yet they were only ever paid for a fraction of their time worked.

In this moment of great crisis, where millions have been told to stay home or shelter in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, home care workers continue to put their lives on the line to care for the most vulnerable in our communities. To make matters even worse, they have not been provided the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to safeguard themselves and help slow the spread of disease.

We encourage allies who stand with workers to visit the National Mobilization Against Sweatshops at nmass.org to learn more about NMASS’s home care worker campaign and how you can donate to a fund that will be used to purchase PPEs for home care workers during this crisis. Stay tuned for more updates about our clients’ legal fight for justice.

 

 

 

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Changes to the “Public Charge” Test and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Presione aquí para la versión en Español

For some immigrants, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) will consider whether an immigrant is likely to become a “public charge” when it reviews the immigrant’s request for a visa or green card. A “public charge” is someone who may rely on public benefits for a significant period of time. If USCIS determines an immigrant is likely to become a public charge, it may deny an immigrant’s entry into the United States or their green card application.

The Trump administration recently issued new rules that redefine the term “public charge” in a way that will result in many more people being denied entry or a green card. The new rules went into effect on February 24, 2020. It is important for immigrants to understand whether they might be impacted by these new rules.

Catholic Migration Services would like to inform the immigrant community that the new public charge rules does not mean everyone should stop receiving any public benefits that they need for their family. Therefore, before withdrawing from any public benefits you are currently receiving, we encourage you to speak with a trusted immigration attorney.

COVID-19 Pandemic and Public Charge

Medical Treatment
USCIS has clarified that seeking or using medical treatment or preventative healthcare services related to COVID-19 will NOT be considered under the public charge rule, even if the services are Medicaid-funded.

Unemployment Benefits
Unemployment insurance benefits are not, in and of themselves, taken into consideration by the USCIS for purposes of making a public charge determination. Guidance issued by the USCIS states that unemployment benefits are not considered by USCIS in a public charge inadmissibility determination as unemployment insurance is considered by USCIS as an “earned” benefit.

Please note that we will update this page routinely as we learn more about how COVID-19 specific state and federal assistance packages may intersect with the new public charge rule in upcoming weeks.

The New Rule – Who it Applies To:

  • You are in the U.S. and plan to apply for a green card or visa → The new public charge rules may affect you. You should speak with an immigration lawyer to learn more about the possible impact.
  • You or your family plans to apply for a green card or visa from outside the U.S. → The new public charge rules may affect you. You should speak with an immigration lawyer to learn more about the possible impact.

The New Rule – Who it Does Not Apply to:

  • You are already a U.S. citizen, DACA recipient, U or T Visa holder, TPS holder, or have SIJS status, or have status as an asylee or refugee, or are applying for any of these statuses → The new rules do not affect you. Benefits you receive while in this status will not be counted against you in the future if you apply for a green card.
  • You and your family are green card holders → The new public charge rules do not affect you unless you leave the country for more than 6 months.

If the new rules affect you, USCIS may count it against you if you use any of the following benefits for a lengthy period: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), state general relief or general assistance, Medicaid institutionalization for long-term care, non-emergency Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, and public housing.

The government will not consider receipt of the following types of benefits when determining public charge: emergency medical assistance, disaster relief, national school lunch or school breakfast programs, foster care or adoption, Head Start, Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP), WIC, the Earned Income Tax Credit, or the Child Tax Credit.

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 more information on the public charge rule and whether it affects you, call the New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday.

To speak with an attorney or immigration counselor with Catholic Migration Services, please call our office Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at (718) 236-3000 or (347) 472-3500.

Download this update as a PDF.