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Catholic Migration Services Awarded Combined Grant of $10,320 from The New York Bar Foundation

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. 

Tenant Protections Backed by Catholic Migration Services Passed by Lawmakers in Historic Rent Regulations Deal

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

‘Expedited removal’ policy could affect Queens residents

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

Catholic Migration Services to New Yorkers Who May Encounter ICE

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.

Media Coverage:
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

Queens Naturalization Workshop Assists Green Card Holders on the Road to Citizenship

On Saturday, June 22nd immigrant rights advocates from Catholic Migration Services, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and legal partners with Cleary Gottlieb, Fried Frank and Goldman Sachs offered free one-on-one guidance on naturalization applications at LaGuardia Community College. “In one day, we were able to assist over 50 lawful permanent residents begin their journey to U.S. citizenship. We couldn’t do this important work without all of your commitment to the immigrant community and graciously offering your time on a Saturday” said Chloe Moore, naturalization counselor with Catholic Migration Services.

In addition to having a great turnout, immigrant rights advocates were able to save applicants thousands of dollars on application fees. Volunteers helped to complete 36 full and partial fee waivers, totaling a savings of $23,265


Media Coverage:

Naturalization Clinic in Queens, aired June 22nd – Visiones, WNBC-TV
Free Naturalization Clinic, aired June 22nd – NBC Today, WNBC-TV
Ofrecen taller gratuito sobre ciudadanía para todos los residentes del área triestatal, aired June 13th – Edicion Digital Nueva York, WXTV Univision 41
[Photos: Catholic Migration Services]

Ofrecen taller gratuito sobre ciudadanía para todos los residentes del área triestatal

José León, abogado de inmigración con Catholic Migration Services y Yleana Roman abogada con New York Lawyers for the Public Interest fueron entrevistados en Edición Digital Nueva York por medio de Univision para promover la próxima taller de naturalización en Long Island City, Queens.

Taller de Naturalización
Cuando: Sabado, 22 de Junio de 2019 desde la 9:00 a.m. hasta la 5:00 p.m.
Donde: LaGuardia Community College ubicada en 31-10 Thomson Avenue, E Atrium, Long Island City, NY 11101
Nota: Para registrarse para este taller, favor de llamar (212) 225-4400 o envia un mensaje de texto a (718) 866-3687.

Vea la entrevista en Edicion Digital Nueva York por medio de Univision: Ofrecen taller gratuito sobre ciudadanía para todos los residentes del área triestatal