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.”
On Friday, October 4th and October 11th, Catholic Migration Services hosted the 15th Anniversary of the Annual Shining Star Award Dinners. Located at Gargulio’s Restaurant in Coney Island, Brooklyn, approximately 1000 attendees gathered to celebrate honorees who, through their efforts in their communities embody the mission of “welcoming the stranger among us”.
This year 26 leaders representing 23 ethnic ministries received Shining Star Awards. Honorees were selected by their peers in their respective ethnic ministries and were treated to an evening of festivities which included the award ceremony, dinner, and dancing. In addition to the Shining Stars, the 2019 Founder’s Award was presented to members of Coro San Miguel (St. Michael Choir) from St. Finbar in Brooklyn. Choir members were acknowledged for their commitment and contribution to the Guatemalan community. The 2019 program included Rev. Jorge Ortiz-Garay, Coordinator of Ministry to Mexican Catholics and Pastor of St. Brigid and Rev. Jason Espinal, Associate Vicar for Migration and Ethnic Apostolates and the Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Angels in Brooklyn who offered the Invocation. During his Opening Address, the Very Rev. Patrick J. Keating, Esq., CEO of Catholic Migration Services marked the importance of the role of the immigrants in the life of the community and Church.
Following the presentation of awards, Fr. Keating welcomed the Most Rev. Witold Mroziewski, Vicar for Migrants and Ethnic Apostolates, Pastor of Holy Cross Church in Maspeth, and the former Coordinator of the Polish Apostolate who later introduced the Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn for the Keynote Address. In his address, Bishop DiMarzio spoke about the diversity of the Diocese of Brooklyn, fondly known as the Diocese of Immigrants. He congratulated the honorees, their work and commitment to their parish communities, the Church, the City, and the Nation.
In addition to honoring the Shining Stars, each evening support the legal and pastoral services of Catholic Migration Services, and the crucial role it plays assisting underserved immigrant communities.
2019 Shining Star Award Honorees
Mrs. Joices Lucia Momongan-Triestanto – 2019 Indonesian Shining Star
Mrs. Norika E. M. Krupka Janik – 2019 Czech/Slovak Shining Star
Mr. & Mrs. Albert & Elaine Agyemang Tontoh – 2019 Ghanaian Shining Star
Mr. Gerardo Lozano – 2019 Colombian Shining Star
Mr. Enrique Lugo – 2019 Dominican Shining Star
Dr. Augustine Umeozor – 2019 Nigerian Shining Star
Ms. Josefina Arriaga – 2019 Mexican Shining Star
Deacon Joseph Bichotte – 2019 Haitian Shining Star
Ms. Catherine Abdullah – 2019 West Indian Shining Star
Mr. Young Jin Kim – 2019 Korean Shining Star
Dr. Krzysztof Gospodarzec – 2019 Polish Shining Star
Ms. Concetta Ciulla – 2019 Italian Shining Star
Ms. Elma Souza dos Reis – 2019 Brazilian Shining Star
Mrs. Li Ming Fong – 2019 Chinese Queens Shining Star
Mr. & Mrs. John & Marica Lesica – 2019 Croatian Shining Star
Mr. & Mrs. Mark Veluz & Lizbeth R. Bucad-Veluz – 2019 Filipino Shining Star
Mrs. Reji Antony Babu – 2019 Indian Latin Rite Shining Star
Mr. Noami Dilawar – 2019 Pakistani Shining Star
Mr. Pavlo Khrushch – 2019 Ukranian Shining Star
Mrs. Rosa Kan – 2019 Chinese (Cantonese) Brooklyn Shining Star
Ms. Anele Jaseviciene – 2019 Lithuanian Shining Star
Mr. Michael Benn – 2019 Irish Shining Star
Deacon Victorino P. Elijio – 2019 Garifuna Shining Star
2019 Founder’s Award
Coro San Miguel
Read the full story in The Tablet: Couple Praises God With Music
See Current’s NET TV’s news segment: 2019 Shining Stars: Ghanaian Catholics Lead Hymns of Praise
View the 2019 event photos for Dinner 1 on October 4th, here.
View the 2019 event photos for Dinner 2 on October 11th, here.
Foundation Board member Martin Minkowitz, right, presents a grant to V. Rev. Patrick Keating, Esq., CEO of Catholic Migration Services. Photo: Nancy Pardo
Brooklyn, NY – Catholic Migration Services recently received two grants totaling $10,320 from The New York Bar Foundation to facilitate the delivery of direct legal services to eligible tenants and low-wage workers in New York City. The Catholic Migration Services’ SCRIE/DRIE Legal Services Initiative Program was awarded $5,000 and the Catholic Migration Services’ Immigrant Workers’ Rights Program was awarded $5,320.
The SCRIE/DRIE (Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption and Disability Rent Increase Exemption) Legal Services Initiative Program provided by Catholic Migration Services offers one-on-one consultations and representation to low-income seniors and disabled tenants who may be eligible to obtain exemptions from future rent increases. The Immigrant Workers’ Rights Program works to attain justice for workers who are often marginalized and exploited, and provides workers with the information needed to protect themselves from future employment-based abuse.
“We appreciate the generosity of the New York Bar Foundation as they continue to support Catholic Migration Services’ SCRIE/DRIE Legal Services Initiative Program and the Workers’ Rights Program,” said Very Reverend Patrick J. Keating, Esq., Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Migration Services. “The awarded grants will help us continue to serve low-income seniors and disabled tenants to avoid unaffordable rent increases, retain their rent-stabilized apartments, prevent homelessness, preserve affordable housing units, stabilize neighborhoods during times of intense gentrification, and also increase the provision of services to low-wage workers, primarily workers who experience wage theft.”
“The New York Bar Foundation has allocated nearly $700,000 in grants to more than 85 programs across New York significantly increasing the total dollar amount of grants over the past several years,” said Lucia Whisenand, chair of the Grant Review Committee. “The issues we touch on are extensive and impact people in life changing ways.”
Since 1971 Catholic Migration Services has been providing high quality legal services and Know Your Rights education to low-income individuals in Brooklyn and Queens. Catholic Migration Services currently assists immigrants with immigration legal services, tenants in Queens with housing legal services, and low-wage workers with employment legal services. For more information about the SCRIE/DRIE Legal Services Initiative Program, the Immigrants Workers’ Rights Program, and other services, visit our website at www.catholicmigration.org.
Last month, the New York State Legislature passed a historic package of rent regulations called The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 that will strengthen and restore a series of important rent laws that were weakened over the course of 20 years. The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (“the Act”), signed into law days after lawmakers reached a deal, will preserve the affordability of about one million regulated apartments in New York City.
For Catholic Migration Services and its allies, this is a win that was years in the making. The Act addresses an affordable housing crisis caused in part by rollbacks of tenant protections, and by certain landlords who exploited loopholes and weak laws to put profit before tenants.
Catholic Migration Services, joined by coalition partners and tenants alike, advocated for years on behalf of New Yorkers to restore equity amid this statewide housing crisis. Carlos Ortiz, Tenant Organizer with the Tenant Advocacy Program picked up as lead organizer at Catholic Migration Services for this initiative shortly after the 2016 laws expired. It was during that time that he and other organizers at Catholic Migration Services began to get into campaign mode to mobilize tenants in need of housing reform. After a statewide coalition was formed joining advocates throughout New York State, they began to strategize and mobilize.
According to Ortiz, “Queens experienced one of the greatest mobilizations in the effort, and Catholic Migration Services was a big part of that. We consistently brought people from the borough, and dedicated tenant leaders who were part of the planning and strategy meetings sacrificed their time, and that of their families.”
New York tenants were kept abreast about these efforts through coordinated forums, community meetings, public platforms, rallies, and press conferences organized by partner organizations and coalition members. The rollback and new set of laws makes it much easier for tenants and their advocates, removing obstacles, and closing some loopholes that oftentimes threatened the homes and stability of New Yorkers. For Ortiz and other advocates, the historic legislation is a great step in the right direction but there is still work to be done, especially the elimination of the existing Major Capital Improvement (MCI) provisions that contain a loophole through which certain landlords can continue to increase rents dramatically and unfairly.
Catholic Migration Services is a unique legal service provider in the community. In addition to providing high quality legal assistance and Know Your Rights education to low-income individuals, Catholic Migration Services assists immigrants with immigration legal services, tenants in Queens with housing legal services, and low-wage workers with employment legal services. The staff includes attorneys and organizers. “We help solve problems from a legal position and in other good ways that are needed,” said Andrew Lehrer, Managing Attorney for the Tenant Advocacy Program. “There is value in having organizers and involving the client community. “It’s remarkable what tenants were able to achieve by coming together to advocate for these reforms,” said Lehrer.
Read the full press release from Assemblymember’s Office here: Assembly Passes Historic Affordable Housing Protections to Bring Stability to Tenants Across New York State
On Tuesday, the current administration expanded an already existing “expedited removal” policy that could affect thousands of undocumented residents in Queens who may be subject to rapid deportation proceedings without a court appearance. Alexandra Goncalves-Peña, Managing Attorney with the Immigration Program at Catholic Migration Services spoke to the Queens Daily Eagle about the expansion and what this could mean for undocumented immigrants in Queens.
Read the full story in the Queens Daily Eagle: ‘Expedited removal’ policy could affect Queens residents
With recent announcements surrounding immigration raids in communities throughout the country, Catholic Migration Services continues to keep the community up to date with their rights, irrespective of their immigration status.
Download this advisory as a PDF.
Watch the full interview via Currents News on NET TV: Attorney to Immigrants and Citizens Encountering ICE: ‘Know Your Rights’, July 16, 2019
Watch the full interview via NY1 Noticias (en Español): Reaccionan neoyorquinos a la postergación de redadas de ICE, June 22, 2019
Hear the full interview via 1010 Wins (scroll to center): New York officials vow to ‘fight back’ against planned ICE raids, June 22, 2019
Watch the full interview on Fox5-NY: Trump delays ICE raids for 2 weeks after blowback, June 22, 2019