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Naturalization Workshop Helps New Yorkers Get Closer to Citizenship

Last month Catholic Migration Services partnered with the New Americans Program at the Queens Public Library (QPL) for a free naturalization workshop in Corona. The workshop was open to eligible legal permanent residents interested in applying for citizenship. Pro bono attorneys, paralegals, and volunteers assisted 23 New Yorkers at the Corona Branch. 

To be eligible for future naturalization workshops, legal permanent residents are required to bring the following documents:

  • Green card and all passports
  • Copy of most recent IRS tax return
  • Marriage certificate or divorce papers (if applicable)
  • Certified court dispositions and MTA dispositions (if applicable)

In addition, if legal permanent residents are eligible for a full or partial fee waiver, individuals will need to provide proof of the benefit that you or an immediate family member (spouse or child) are currently receiving. The appropriate evidence must be in the form of a letter, notice, or other official document. If such eligibility applies, legal permanent residents are required to bring the following documents:

  • SNAP (Food Stamp) Award Letter
  • SSI Award Letter
  • Medicaid Award Letter

The July quarterly naturalization workshop with the Queens Public Library is in collaboration with The New Americans Campaign and Citizenship Works.

Catholic Migration Services Secures Release from ICE of Wrongfully Detained Migrant Fleeing Persecution 

The Removal Defense Project (RDP) recently secured the release of a Central American client who was wrongfully detained in an immigration detention center during a routine check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Upon entering the country, ICE made a clear custody determination to release Javier from their custody while placing him under an Order of Supervision. The Order of Supervision required him and his family to routinely check-in with an ICE Deportation Officer. Despite attending his first ICE check-in and fully complying with his order of supervision, on the day of his second check-in ICE arrested and detained Javier without warning or explanation. 

After spending a month in a county jail which ICE uses to detain immigrants, Javier received a bond hearing to request his release from detention before an immigration judge. At the hearing, ICE produced an official document which falsely stated that Javier did not attend his first check-in and that ICE was revoking his order of supervision and detaining him for his failure to attend that check-in. Javier’s Catholic Migration Services’ attorneys objected to ICE’s introduction of that document and provided the Immigration Court with Javier’s testimony and a different ICE document, which both contradicted the document filed by ICE. As a result, the immigration judge found that ICE’s evidence was unreliable and that Javier presented no flight risk. The immigration judge set the minimum bond amount, $1500.00, which was paid by The New York Immigrant Freedom Fund, a non-profit that pays bonds to free low-income New Yorkers from ICE detention.

Javier had sought help from Catholic Migration Services after suffering persecution and fleeing years of violence at the hands of a transnational criminal organization in his Central American country. When he was a child, Javier’s parents moved to the United States, leaving him in his country in the care of his uncle, who was his caretaker and father figure. Around the age of 13, he witnessed members of a transnational criminal organization murder his uncle during a public soccer game. His uncle’s  killers attempted to murder Javier too, cutting him with a machete and shooting at him as he fled. Fearing for his life and without his uncle’s protection, Javier went into hiding in another part of his country. Over the following years, the transnational criminal organization responsible for murdering his uncle and attempting to murder him tracked him down and threatened his life. The final incident occurred in 2018 when men dressed as police officers came to his home where he lived with his partner and their child. The men threatened to burn Javier and his family inside their home if they didn’t leave. Javier believes that these men were members of the same transnational criminal organization collaborating with corrupt police officers. Upon receiving this threat to their lives, Javier and his family fled from their country seeking asylum in the United States. 

While Javier was in detention, his son Kevin* turned five years old. Kevin told his mother that he would not celebrate his birthday without his father, because he wanted the whole family to be there. The week he was released, Javier and his family celebrated Kevin’s birthday.

Javier will continue to pursue his claim for asylum outside of the detention system with Catholic Migration Services as his representatives.

*Although the stories are real, the names have been changed to protect the privacy of our client.

Workers’ Rights Program Reaches $33,000 Settlement for Domestic Worker in Wage Theft and Harassment Suit

The Workers’ Rights Program won a $33,000.00 settlement for a domestic worker in a case brought under the New York State Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, which guarantees basic workplace protections for domestic workers.

Our client, a Mexican national worked as a nanny and domestic worker for over six years. During that time she suffered significant minimum wage and overtime violations, as well as verbal abuse and sexual harassment at the hands of her employer. Catholic Migration Services litigated the case in Queens County Supreme Court with assistance from co-counsel from LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and reached a settlement shortly before trial in April. 

In the words of our client, “I feel very fortunate that I met the lawyers at Catholic Migration Services. They helped me and defended my rights. I am very grateful.” Catholic Migration Services also helped the client obtain a T visa, as a victim of labor trafficking. The visa was approved in September 2017 and will allow her to remain in the United States with work authorization for up to four years, and to apply for permanent residency after three years. 

‘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

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