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What Happens When a New York City Landlord Threatens to Call ICE?

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.

COVID-19 Protections Against Evictions

Important News: Thanks to great work by tenants all across New York, here are new Housing protections to prevent you from Eviction until May 1st! For more information, please call Catholic Migration Services at (347) 472-3500 ext. 1026 or ext. 1019.

Employment authorization for TPS holders from Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Nepal, and Sudan has been automatically extended through January 4, 2021.

On September 14, 2020, an earlier court order temporarily stopping USCIS from terminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador was lifted. The lifting of this order does not allow the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to immediately revoke TPS for these countries; however, it may make it possible for USCIS to terminate TPS in the future. There is a separate lawsuit in which a court order has temporarily halted the termination of TPS for Haiti, and another lawsuit has temporarily blocked USCIS from terminating TPS for Honduras and Nepal. These orders related to Haiti, Honduras, and Nepal remain in effect at the moment.

The developments in these lawsuits do not require current TPS holders to take any action to maintain their status. These developments do not allow USCIS to immediately revoke TPS. All current TPS holders from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, and El Salvador should continue to have TPS and employment authorization until at least January 4, 2021. You do not need to apply for a new work authorization document if you do not want to. However, if you choose to, you will be able to by filing the proper application form with the appropriate fee.

We will continue to update our website with more information as it becomes available. If you have any questions, concerns, or to make an appointment, please call Catholic Migration Services Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at (718) 236-3000 (Brooklyn Office) or at (347) 472-3500 (Queens Office).

Download this update as a PDF.

Catholic Migration Services Files An Unfair Labor Practice Charge With the National Labor Relations Board Against Brooklyn-Based Company, Art to Frames

Catholic Migration Services Files An Unfair Labor Practice Charge With the National Labor Relations Board Against Brooklyn-Based Company, Art to Frames

Whistle Blower Employees Fired in Retaliation for Requesting Masks

Brooklyn, NY (September 21, 2020) – Catholic Migration Services filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (Region 29) against the Brooklyn-based employer, Art to Frames on Thursday, September 17th. The charge alleges that Art to Frames fired an estimated thirty-five workers after they collectively requested that their Employer provide masks to employees for protection from COVID-19.

“These workers only earned minimum wage at Art to Frames and after their termination, they have struggled to make ends meet and find other employment,” said Magdalena Barbosa, Managing Attorney – Workers’ Rights Program, Catholic Migration Services. “Many of these workers also contracted COVID-19 and suspect that they were exposed to the virus at work.”

The COVID-19 public health crisis is creating many challenges for immigrant workers and their families. An estimated six million immigrants are in essential jobs at the front lines of the response to this pandemic. Immigrants, women, and people of color disproportionately fill many of these low-wage jobs and find themselves at heightened risk of exposure to COVID-19 while at work.

Although New York has some of the strongest laws on the books to protect workers, these workers are NOT protected by New York’s current whistleblower statute, New York Labor Law Section 740,” said Miriam Clark, former president of the National Employment Lawyers Association/New York. “The current law fails to protect employees who blow the whistle on anything that is not both an actual violation of a law, rule or regulation and also creates and presents a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety. These cramped provisions make New York an outlier among the states: employers can even fire whistleblowers who complain about coronavirus-related violations, unless the employee can prove that there is an actual violation of law, rule or regulation, which is rare.” Catholic Migration Services and the National Employment Lawyers Association/New York call on state lawmakers to amend New York Labor Law Section 740 to ensure that whistleblowers are protected

“I worked at Art to Frames for about two years,” said Luis Jacome, Former Employee, Art to Frames who was fired after joining his colleagues in requesting protective personal equipment while on the job. “When we began learning about COVID in early March, my co-workers and I became scared. People were coughing at work and we were afraid of getting sick. All we wanted was for our employer to protect us, but they took zero precautions. No masks, no safe distances – there wasn’t even soap in the bathroom. Instead, we were fired. A few days after my termination, I went to the hospital because I was very sick with COVID symptoms.”

“I’m a single mom and while I was devoted to my job, my kids have always been my number one priority,” recalled Digna Rivera, Fired Employee, Art to Frames. “I reported to work at Art to Frames every day for five years to provide for my family, not to bring home dangerous germs. All we asked for was for our employer to provide a safe environment to work, and simply for that we were fired! We seek justice and to send a message to Art to Frames that our safety and our lives are not expendable.

The Workers’ Rights Program at Catholic Migration Services works towards strengthening the enforcement of workers’ rights through affirmative litigation, policy reform, individual representation, and community education. In collaboration with workers’ centers and community-based organizations citywide, the Workers’ Rights Program provides advice and representation to hundreds of low-income and immigrant workers each year facing a range of problems.

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About Catholic Migration Services
Since 1971 Catholic Migration Services, an affiliate agency of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, has been providing quality legal services in Brooklyn and Queens, and currently provides free legal assistance and Know Your Rights education to low-income individuals in need of immigration, housing, and workers’ rights legal services. As the first office of its kind in the country, Catholic Migration Services has served tens of thousands of immigrants regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, or immigration status.

Media Coverage
Catholic Migration Services Files Charges Against Art to Frames, for Firing Workers Denied PPE, Currents News, Monday, September 28, 2020

 

Catholic Migration Services and Pro Bono Counsel Represent Queens Tenants in an Effort to Pursue Overcharge Claims on Their Rent Stabilized Apartment

Catholic Migration Services filed two cases in Queens County Supreme Court on behalf of tenants who allege that their landlord charged them more than the legally permissible rent for many years. Along with pro bono counsel from Simpson, Thacher and Bartlett LLP, we recently obtained a favorable ruling from an appellate court that will permit our clients’ claims to proceed.

In 2015, Beatriz came to Catholic Migration Services seeking one-on-one consultation because she believed that her rent was too high. After learning about her housing concerns, the Catholic Migration Services Tenant Advocacy Program agreed to represent her and her son with the expertise of Senior Staff Attorney, Mariam Magar.

In the course of researching the records for the apartment maintained by the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), Mariam discovered that a rent reduction order was issued by DHCR in 1987 (and effective May 1986) had remained in effect through September 2015. This meant that Beatriz and Angel should have been paying only $348.04 per month, an overcharge of almost $1,300 per month, until then.

In February 2016 Mariam filed overcharge cases for both Beatriz and Angel in Queens County Supreme Court, asserting that they were overcharged because (1) the rent in their 2006 vacancy lease, which was more than double the rent paid by the prior tenant, was excessive, and (2) the 1987 DHCR rent reduction order limited their rent to $348.04 per month through September 2015. After filing the cases, Mariam learned about a second rent reduction order that was still in effect.

Initially, the judges in each of the two cases dismissed them, finding that the tenants had filed them too late, but with the help of pro bono counsel from the law firm of Simpson, Thacher and Bartlett LLP, we appealed to the Appellate Division, Second Department, and in June 2020, the Court issued orders reversing the two Supreme Court decisions, holding that the tenants had not filed their cases too late.

As of July 2020, the two cases are now headed back to the Supreme Court, where the tenants may once again pursue their overcharge claims with continued representation from Catholic Migration Services and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Beatriz and her son Angel, this will enable mother and son to remain in their long-time home for years to come.

Immigration Update: The Supreme Court of the United States on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program

Presione aquí para la versión en Español
Peze la pou tradui nan Kreyol Ayisyen

On June 18, 2020 the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Trump Administration’s termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2017 was unlawful, thus allowing almost 800,000 DACAmented community members, including 45,000 residents of New York, who call the United States of America home to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the program has not been eliminated and continues to stand.

What does the decision mean?

  • The Supreme Court’s decision specifically takes issue with the way the Trump administration ended the program in 2017. The Court held that the way the program was terminated was improper. It did not hold that DACA was lawful or good policy.
  • The Supreme Court’s decision means that the DACA program should be restored completely, which means that first time applicants should be able to apply. It is unclear when the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin taking on new applications. Individuals currently with DACA continue to remain eligible to renew their DACA for two more years.
  • It is possible that Advance Parole may again allow DACA recipients to travel outside the United States and return. However, details of this are still unclear, and the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may limit the ability to travel.
  • All DACA eligible individuals should consult with a legal service provider for information about applying for DACA for the first time, renewing their existing DACA, and/or getting screened for eligibility for other, more permanent immigration options.

This decision is an enormous victory for our immigrant communities and their allies who mobilized to protect the DACA program. However, it is important to keep in mind that the Trump administration can again attempt to end the program through other means, and that only an act of Congress can afford DACAmented community members true permanent status in the United States.

We will continue to update our website with more information as it becomes known.

To make an appointment with Catholic Migration Services for free legal assistance applying for or renewing DACA, call us at (718) 236-3000 (Brooklyn office) or (347) 472-3500 (Queens office).

Download this update as a PDF.