Photo: Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens
August 29, 2022
By Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens
Yesterday, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, Catholic Migration Services, and the St. Charles Borromeo Parishioner volunteers welcomed over 140 migrants and asylum seekers at an information session and lunch at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Downtown Brooklyn. Since July, over 220 asylum seekers have come to Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens Community Outreach Center in Brooklyn seeking assistance. To welcome them, provide support, and help them settle in further, we teamed up with Catholic Migration Services for a Spanish-language informational session that addressed deportation, ICE, change of address and applying for Asylee status.
Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens also provided small produce boxes with fresh fruit, loaves of bread, toiletry/food bags, COVID test kits, socks, masks and other necessities. The St. Charles Borromeo volunteers donated and served lunch for the attendees. Additional Catholic Charities social service staff were in attendance with information and resources.
For over 124 years, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, through its social services arm, Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services, Inc., has been providing quality social services to the neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens and currently offers 160-plus programs and services for children, youth, adults, older adults, and those struggling with mental illness. Since 1975, Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation, the affordable housing developer of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, has been transforming vacant land and buildings into affordable housing units and transforming the lives of individuals and families, and completed more than 4,450 units with supportive services for seniors, families, veterans and the formerly homeless. Since the pandemic began, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens has provided much-needed food packages and services at 56 Catholic Charities parish-based food pantries and has distributed over $8.5 million in food assistance. Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens continues to deliver crucial mental health counseling, housing services, family services and early childhood education and COVID vaccines at a variety of locations. For more information, please visit www.ccbq.org.
AUGUST 5, 2022 / 11:25 PM / CBS NEW YORK
BY MARCIA KRAMER, ALI BAUMAN
NEW YORK — A red state, blue state border war has erupted after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent dozens of migrants to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, taking advantage of New York City’s right to shelter law as he fights with President Joe Biden over immigration policy.
Mayor Eric Adams is furious, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Friday.
The Port Authority Bus Terminal became the scene of the crime – what city officials think is a political crime by Abbott.
The Texas governor bused over 40 migrants – men, women and children – to New York City, his new drop-off location, to remove them from border towns in a challenge to the Biden administration’s open border policies.
“Governor Greg Abbott is continuing to play with the lives of human beings. We think this is cruel, it’s disgusting and it’s pure cowardice,” said Manuel Castro, commissioner of the mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.
A spokesperson for Adams called the move “an embarrassing stain on the state of Texas,” but stressed that as a right to shelter city, he would welcome the asylum seekers with open arms.
In a statement, Adams’ press secretary Fabien Levy said, “… but we are asking for resources to help do so. We need Washington, D.C.’s assistance in dealing with the cruel political games being played by inept politicians like the governor of Texas.”
Abbott has been busing migrants to Washington, D.C. but said New York City will be a new location.
“New York City is the ideal destination for these migrants, who can receive the abundance of city services and housing that Mayor Eric Adams has boasted about within in the sanctuary city. I hope he follows through on his promise of welcoming all migrants with open arms so that our overrun and overwhelmed border towns can find relief,” Abbott said in a statement.
Castro said some of the migrants were confused to arrive in the Big Apple and relief workers who met the buses said many had no idea they were coming to New York City.
“I spoke to another family who thought were coming to Maryland, and in fact, their paperwork from immigration says that they were going to these destinations, but they were lied to in Texas and now they’re being sent to New York City,” Castro said.
“Some of them weren’t even supposed to be in New York. I mean there’s people going to Portland, Oregon. We had to get them tickets to North Carolina, Washington, D.C. and all sorts of other places. So they were kind of inappropriately brought to New York,” said relief worker Andrea Garbarini.
Kathryn Kliff, a legal aid attorney, said she’s also worried that Abbott sent people here against their will.
“By their own choice, have endured horrific things before they got here and this is just an additional trauma to be sent somewhere that’s not where you want to be,” Kliff said.
CBS2’s Ali Bauman spoke with a 44-year-old single father of three from Venezuela who wants to stay anonymous because he fears for his safety.
He has been staying in Queens with his three sons since they arrived a few days ago.
In Spanish, he spoke about their journey.
“I spent five days in the jungle from Colombia to Panama,” he said. “I got robbed, all my food and money was taken, so my kids and I spent two days in the jungle with no food.”
Eventually, they made it to Texas.
“This charity in Texas sent us a voucher so we could fly from Texas to Chicago to New York,” he said.
He added he feels blessed to have shelter, food and fresh clothing here, and he and his children say they’re excited about the future.
This father is one of the 4,000 migrants seeking asylum who have come to New York City this summer.
Adams, meanwhile, is now turning to the federal government for more resources.
“We already have a housing crisis. Help us here because not only it’s housing, it’s translation services, it’s education, it is food,” he said.
The city is helped by nonprofits like Catholic Migration Services in Brooklyn, which provides legal services.
“We have the knowledge to help them. We just need more resources to be able to,” said Raluca Oncioiu, an attorney with Catholic Migration Services’ immigration program.
She says they’re now receiving hearing notices for immigration court for people who are not their clients and they cannot contact.
“A number of them have told us that it was the officers at the border who put the address on the papers,” she said. “Processes that have been put in place to ensure that people have their day in court, that they can actually seek asylum, those processes are being bypassed.”
The city says it is increasing its capacities across the board for additional beds in the shelter system, as well as interpreters and legal services.
Legal Aid is asking Adams and Castro to provide a plan for addressing the needs of the migrants who have arrived here.
Read the original story on CBS News New York: Mayor Adams furious after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent dozens of migrants to New York City against their will
Photo: Kevin Dietsch, Getty Images
June 4, 2022
By: Jesús García
Los inmigrantes portadores de una ‘green card’ deben animarse a aplicar por la ciudadanía una vez cumplidos los tres o cinco años obligatorios, pues ello les traerá mayores beneficios que mantenerse en forma indefinida como residentes permanentes, indicaron expertos.
“Yo le diría a quien esté pensando en solicitar la ciudadanía, que es un proceso muy gratificante”, indicó Samantha Pascal, coordinadora de Naturalization en Catholic Migration Services (CMS), una organización que trabaja en conjunto con New York Lawyers for Public Interest (NYLPI) para ayudar a los inmigrantes.
La experta reconoció que el proceso puede resultar “de miedo” para los inmigrantes, pero los beneficios son un buen motivo para concretar el proceso.
“Hay múltiples razones por las que es importante que alguien solicite la ciudadanía… Un motivo es que una tarjeta verde… vence después de 10 años y después de que vence, una persona tendría que renovarla”, advirtió Pascal. “En ese caso, algunas personas que no califican para una exención de tarifas tendrán que pagar por la tarjeta verde. Y ese costo se acumularía a lo largo de los años”.
Agregó que uno de los beneficios es que los inmigrantes ya no tendrían que estar preocupados por cuánto tiempo pasen fuera del país, ya que con la ‘green card’ si alguien pasa más de seis meses fuera de EE.UU. eso puede significar una “bandera roja” para autoridades migratorias y afectar su proceso de naturalización.
“Uno de los requisitos para naturalizarse es tener lo que se llama presencia física, que es una cantidad determinada de días o tiempo al año que el inmigrante está en los EE.UU.”, indicó la experta, quien destacó el derecho a votar que un inmigrante podría tener al hacerse ciudadano.
Agregó que ese paso es el “último” en un largo proceso de trámites migratorios que vive un no ciudadano, por lo que también le ayudará a reducir sus preocupaciones.
El Dr. Nelson Castillo, abogado en inmigración que ejerce en California, coincidió con Pascal, abonando otros beneficios.
“Los residentes permanentes deben convertirse en ciudadanos estadounidenses para tener más derechos, conseguir mejores empleos y tramitar peticiones de familiares inmediatos de forma más rápida”, indicó el experto. “Además, al ser ciudadanos, ya no los pueden remover del país, al menos que hayan cometido fraude para conseguir la ciudadanía estadounidense”.
El Dr. Castillo recordó que hay más de nueve millones de Residentes Legales Permanentes (LPR, como se le conoce inglés) que podrían ser elegibles para solicitar la ciudadanía estadounidense por medio de naturalización.
Cuatro grandes consejos
Pascal recordó a los inmigrantes proporcionar la suficiente información a su abogado para que pueda hacer una evaluación realista para aplicar por la naturalización ante la oficina de Servicios de Ciudadanía e Inmigración (USCIS).
Dado a que es un servicio gratuito de orientación legal, el CMS no acepta casos complejos, como aquellos en que una persona enfrenta el proceso de deportación.
Pascal indicó, sin embargo, que era indispensable que un inmigrante que haya cometido un delito o enfrente problemas con la justicia así sea en forma administrativa, debe proporcionar esa información a su abogado, para evaluar correctamente su caso.
“Tenemos conversaciones con el cliente para desarrollar los posibles problemas que tengan, nos aseguramos de ayudarlos a obtener los documentos que necesitan. Y usamos esos documentos esencialmente para hacer análisis con los abogados”, expuso. “Si no nos sentimos seguros con nuestro análisis, nos comunicamos con otros proveedores legales para asegurarnos de que nuestro análisis sea correcto y que no estemos poniendo en peligro a nuestro cliente… esencialmente estamos aquí para ayudar a nuestros clientes”.
La razón de esa revisión exhaustiva es que el inmigrante pueda llegar con mayor tranquilidad a la entrevista y al examen para obtener su ciudadanía.
El Dr. Castillo señaló que no todos los inmigrantes con una ‘green card’ serían elegibles para obtener la ciudadanía, debido a que cada caso es único, por lo que dio tres grandes consejos.
1.- Revelar posibles problemas.- Cada inmigrante conoce su historia personal y es consciente de qué puede significar un problema legal, por lo que el Dr. Castillo recuerda que no todos los LPR son elegibles. “Estas personas deben consultar con un abogado de inmigración con licencia y experiencia para determinar si pueden solicitar la ciudadanía lo más pronto posible”, acotó.
2.- Nunca mentir.- El Dr. Castillo advirtió que las mentiras durante el proceso migratorio pueden significar serios problemas. “Esto puede causar una negación de su solicitud de naturalización y, bajo ciertas circunstancias, sujetarle a un proceso de remoción (anteriormente llamado proceso de deportación)”, advirtió.
3. Evaluar opciones de pago.- Existen exenciones de pago para personas de bajos recursos que podrían ayudarle a no tener que pagar la cuota de $725 dólares para el trámite de naturalización, recordó el Dr. Castillo. Indicó que también hay organizaciones sin fines de lucro, como CMS, que proveen servicios legales autorizados gratuitos o a bajo costo.
4. Alejarse de “tramposos”.- El Dr. Castillo sugirió a los inmigrantes “nunca usar los servicios de notarios, consultores de inmigración, [gente] llena-papeles o multi-servicios para recibir ayuda legal en un trámite de naturalización”, dijo. El motivo es que, por ley, estas personas o negocios no están autorizados para ofrecer consejos legales.
El paso a paso
Hay distintos procesos para obtener la naturalización. Los expertos de CMS y NYLPI tienen clínicas que hacen una preevaluación de los casos y luego tienen reuniones físicas con los inmigrantes.
Los abogados evalúan:
– El historial general inmigrante, incluyendo el tiempo que tiene con la ‘green card’, si alguien lo patrocinará.
– Hay preguntas específicas sobre si la persona cometió o no un delito o tuvo algún problema legal, incluso si esa persona utilizó un número de Seguro Social falso.
– Se piden los documentos: originales y copias de ‘green card’, del Número de Seguro Social, pasaporte, certificado de matrimonio (si aplica), certificado de divorcio (si aplica), reportes de impuestos, si tiene seguro médico.
– El abogado revisa toda la documentación y junto con el historial verbal evalúa el caso, para determinar si es viable o enfrentaría un reto especial ante USCIS.
– Es posible que el abogado solicite documentos adicionales como prueba, pero dependen de cada caso.
– El costo a pagar ante USCIS es de $725 dólares, de los cuales $640 dólares son el costo del trámite y $85 por la toma de datos biométricos.
– USCIS podría decidir que una persona no necesita acudir a la toma de datos biométricos, porque se utiliza la información de la ‘green card’.
– Se puede solicitar una exención de pago bajo ciertas circunstancias.
– USCIS podría solicitar información adicional (no siempre ocurre).
– La agencia enviaría notificaciones de los siguientes pasos, incluida la cita de entrevista y examen.
– El inmigrante concreta su entrevista, examen de inglés y cívico.
– Si aprueba sus exámenes se informa de una fecha de juramentación y se entrega el certificado de naturalización.
El dinero puede ser un impedimento para aplicar por la naturalización, pero organizaciones civiles y empresas tienen programas de ayuda.
– Puede solicitar un crédito con un interés muy bajo a onepercentforamerica.org, donde se piden requisitos mínimos.
– Catholic Migration Services y NYLPI ofrecen asesoría legal gratuita con varias clínicas al año. Buscar en catholicmigration.org.
– El Departamento de Justicia tiene un listado de abogados pro-bono en todo el país: https://www.justice.gov/eoir/list-pro-bono-legal-service-providers
Lea el artículo original en El Diario: Aplicar por la ciudadanía tiene más beneficios para inmigrantes que motivos de temor
June 6, 2022
By Maurizio Guerreo
When JLM Decorating hired Miguel Tapia to paint apartments in Manhattan and Brooklyn, they told him he would receive $800 in cash per week for his work. Instead, Tapia, who was born in the Dominican Republic, was paid about half that amount. He complained to his supervisor, Josafath Arias, who said the company will pay him later. Wage theft happened “to everyone that worked there — easily some 100 workers,” Tapia told Documented.
Tapia decided to show up at the company’s principal address, 199 Lee Avenue in Williamsburg, with 15 of his co-workers, who also said they were owed wages. They did not find an office, but rather, a small storefront shipping business at the foot of a three-story brick building. “We were not allowed to come in,” Tapia said.
Most of Tapia’s co-workers remained silent for fear of reprisals given their immigration status, he said. He ended up filing a wage theft claim that has been unresolved at the state Department of Labor since 2019. An agency spokesperson declined to comment on an open investigation.
What Tapia and his co-workers may not have known at the time was that over 2,000 companies are also registered to 199 Lee Ave. The address is notorious among Brooklyn housing and labor advocates as a nexus of wage theft and neglectful landlords.
Also Read: Developers Evade Accountability for Construction Death at the City’s Most Expensive Apartment Development
“The moment I see that address in Brooklyn, I see what’s going on,” said Alex Garcia, a former Worker Rights Manager at New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE). “You’re not going to get paid. This is wage theft.”
Many of the companies at the address are LLCs, limited liability corporations that were created so landlords could own apartment buildings and shield themselves from lawsuits. To sue a company in New York, it’s necessary to serve a legal notice directly to an individual at an address or post it on the business’ door, which is impossible in the case of 199 Lee Ave companies. Suite 215 alone hosts more than a hundred LLCs.
“I have to assume that 199 Lee Ave is a front for wage theft, but I can also imagine that there are other violations that they seek to evade liability for,” said Alice Davis, attorney of Catholic Migration Services (CMS), which provides attorneys to immigrants regardless of immigration status. CMS has dealt with five different cases of wage theft registered to 199 Lee Ave companies.
Most of the companies registered to the address are either real estate owners or construction contractors, industries where wage theft is rampant and endemic, according to immigrant rights advocates. Very few of them pay legal consequences.
“This is a front to protect LLCs from attorneys and other individuals who are trying to enforce the law,” Davis said.
At least 15 wage theft cases involving several workers had been associated with 199 Lee Ave, according to three different nonprofit organizations — Catholic Migration Services, New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) and Make the Road New York. That is just the tip of the iceberg.
Also Read: A Koch-Funded Group is Breaking Up New York’s Unionized Car Washes
JLM Decorating, for example, has been accused of wage theft in cases that potentially involve more than a hundred workers, according to court documents in the Southern District in New York, New York’s Department of Labor and nonprofits’ clients. None of these workers were unionized.
On its website, JLM boasts of its million dollar painting and coating contracts, “high-quality workmanship” and non-unionized workforce, which means lower prices for the real estate clients and more risks for workers.
“There is no difference [between union and nonunion work] except, who’s receiving the living wages, who’s receiving the safety and everything else on the jobs. Nonunion workers do the same work, except they’re not receiving the same living wages [as union workers],” according to a former nonunion worker who was quoted in a Center for Migration Studies report on construction workers released in May.
Advocates for immigrant workers said JLM cuts corners by recruiting non unionized workers. It also has won contracts with some of the most luxurious real estate projects in New York City, including the Aman Hotel & Residences on Fifth Avenue and the Mandarin Oriental on Columbus Circle where a suite costs up to $36,000 per night.
The real estate press occasionally reports on Moshe Gold, a landlord and developer who is the Chief Executive Officer of JLM. He has signed substantial deals, like the $23 million sale of two buildings in East Harlem and the $19.7 million purchase of an office building in New Jersey.
There have been no mentions in the press, however, of the numerous wage theft accusations against JLM Decorating, Cosmopolitan Interior Corporation, City Views Blinds, and Abalene Decorating — some of the 16 LLCs registered under Gold’s name, New York’s Department of State records show. There also has been no scrutiny of the costs in lost wages and injuries that Gold’s low-wage workers, most of them day laborers recruited on the streets, according to a complaint filed in a federal court in New York, are forced to pay to complete its swanky projects.
At least eight of Gold’s companies are registered at another front for unresponsive landlords — 63 Flushing Avenue, a two-story warehouse near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Companies registered to this address face at least five complaints of wage theft and construction workers’ injuries in federal and state courts.
Also Read: $38M NYCHA Renovation Led By Contractor Known For Dangerous Job Sites, Wage Theft
Gold’s companies have systematically stolen workers’ wages at least since 2016, according to claims in the Southern District and the Labor Department, as well as testimonies from laborers, advocates and attorneys. All the publicly known cases refer to affected workers from Latin America and the Caribbean, most of them undocumented, say advocates. This is consistent with the City’s construction workforce makeup: 63 percent of these workers are immigrants, of which 41 percent are undocumented.
Perhaps the clearest indication that Gold ran a well-oiled scheme to steal workers of their wages through JLM was suggested by one of the company’s own executives in a lawsuit filed in the Southern District in January 2020. Angelo Lopes, JLM’s vice president from 2015 to 2019, claimed that the company’s top managers — Moshe Gold, Joel Gold and Maritza Rodríguez — were engaged “in a scheme to avoid paying employment taxes and to avoid compliance with the relevant wage and hour laws.”
Lopes alleged that the defendants hired day laborers and paid them “off the books” in cash without providing them with a wage statement with the hourly and overtime pay rate, as required by state law. He complained that the workers, who were routinely recruited “off the streets” by a foreman, “weren’t even making the minimum wage for the hours they were working.”
JLM has stolen at least $46,050 from nine workers in claims already settled, according to state records obtained by Documented. Workers said that this is only a fraction of the money JLM has stolen from them.
Santiago Garzón, born in Colombia, said the company relies on a seemingly unending pipeline of immigrant laborers who eventually quit after being short-changed. Garzón worked as a painter for JLM for only a few days in 2019 and said he was owed close to $500. He was able to recover a fraction of his money after advocates at NICE, the workers’ rights organization, pressured the company for months.
Without an advocate’s support, Garzón would not have been able to recover his wages, he said. Most of Garzón’s co-workers lost their money, fearful of getting in trouble and ending up detained and deported, despite the fact that all workers, regardless of their immigrations status, are entitled to be paid according to the law.
A trail of cases
In April 2018, Byron Rosero filed a class-action lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against JLM and Cosmopolitan Interior for failing to pay him overtime during his six years of employment. Rosero, hired to make deliveries, said he worked between 45 and 60 hours a week but was paid only for 40 hours weekly, court records show.
Gold and his companies “knowingly and willfully operated their business with a policy of not paying Plaintiff and other similarly situated employees” overtime, according to the lawsuit, which was settled in February 2019.
In April 2020, Israel Martínez filed a similar class-action lawsuit in the Southern District against JLM, with Gold and Arias as defendants. Martínez worked as a painter for “between fifty-two and seventy hours per week, and sometimes more,” for which he received overtime pay in “limited exceptions.”
The complaint was filed on behalf of at least forty workers in similar situations. The defendants sought to “maximize their profits while minimizing their labor costs and overhead,” the complaint stated.
JLM did not reply to multiple email requests for comment from Documented.
Also Read: Developers Want to Make One Of NYC’s Most Dangerous Jobs Even Riskier
NICE’s advocates have helped laborers in six other wage-theft cases involving JLM and Cosmopolitan Interior, spanning from 2018 to 2020. “Very likely other workers were affected but just didn’t come to NICE,” said Sara Feldman, the nonprofit’s deputy chief of staff. In the 2018 cases, Gilbane Building was the general contractor — a company that NICE has confronted in other wage-theft cases, Feldman said.
Along with JLM, Gilbane Building worked on the exclusive Aman Hotel & Residences project, where a worker died due to a safety violation for which no contractor has paid any legal or financial consequence, as Documented previously reported. Another prominent client of JLM is Tishman, the contractor with the most worker injuries in New York in 2020, according to city records.
Advocates often claim that construction companies that steal wages likely violate safety measures, as they maximize profits by “cutting corners” across the board. “It is the business model of these companies and not just unique instances,” Feldman said. “It’s clear that this is a systemic problem.”
Gold’s companies have also been sued for failing to keep records of their workers’ payments. In March 2019, District Council 9 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades filed a lawsuit in the Southern District alleging that Cosmopolitan Interiors had failed to report the hours worked by its employees and to remit the union’s contributions. The union estimated the damages at almost $520,000.
A year later, Gold was sued for allegedly violating the contract with the New York City District Council of Carpenters through City View Blinds and Abalene Decorating. He failed to remit the required contributions, which amounted to $50,162, stated the complaint.
Without proof of payment, it’s harder to file wage-theft claims, labor attorneys have argued. Still, along with advocates, they continue to fight JLM and Gold’s other companies to recover the wages of immigrant laborers — “artisan painters,” JLM says, who take pride in their “detailed & high-quality work!”
Read the original story in Documented: Wage Theft Scheme Tied to Brooklyn Address Where 2,000 LLCs are Registered – A Brooklyn LLC that boasts of its “non-union” labor is the subject of numerous wage theft complaints by immigrant workers.
Many New York tenants have questions about losing their homes during the pandemic. The same is true for undocumented New Yorkers. Recently, The City teamed up with Documented to answer questions submitted by readers in these situations and the Tenant Advocacy Program of Catholic Migration Services explained tenant rights in the middle of a health crisis.
Read the full story in the The City: What Happens When a New York City Landlord Threatens to Call ICE?
During a time when going to work has the possibility of threatening our lives, organizations fighting on behalf of low-wage workers are facing cuts in funding. Our Workers’ Rights Managing Attorney Magdalena Barbosa comments in a recent article by the New York Daily News, “I’m kind of dumbfounded. There is no rationale to completely eliminate funding for a service that is just so essential right now in the midst of a pandemic.”
Read the full story in the New York Daily News: Faced with NYC funding cut, over 100 low-wage workers poised to lose legal help