During an immigration forum on Tuesday, June 19th at St. Leo’s in Corona, Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Congressman Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), and Fr. Patrick J. Keating, Esq., Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Migration Services spoke out against the human rights violations at our southern border.
Fr. Patrick J. Keating, Esq., Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Migration Services said, “It is inhumane to rip children from their parents’ arms; to punish innocent children, just to deter immigration. We have all seen the images and heard the audio of poor, defenseless children crying for their parents. There has to be a more just way of dealing with the current immigration crisis. The administration has the authority to stop this immediately so that vulnerable children do not suffer any more psychological trauma. Surely, all people of good will can agree, that separating innocent children from their parents is not the answer.”
Right to counsel coalition members, tenants, and community leaders gathered for town hall forum on legislation signed into law August 2017.
On Thursday, April 12th right to counsel coalition members, tenants, and community leaders gathered for a Town Hall Forum in the gymnasium of St. Bartholomew Catholic Academy in Elmhurst, New York to address legislation signed into law on August 11, 2017. Right to Counsel mandates universal access to legal representation for low-income tenants in New York City and is the first City in the nation to establish this type of legislation.
Coalition members, tenants, and community leaders highlighted the history of Intro 214 and its amendments originally introduced in March of 2014 by Council Members Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson. Approximately 150 Queens tenants packed the school gymnasium to learn why the Right to Counsel is so important, the eligibility requirements, how to find an attorney, which Queens zip codes will begin implementing RTC, and how to build tenant power.
Queens tenants raise their hands during interactive forum.
After learning that 11433, 11434, and 11373 are the first Queens zip codes to implement RTC, tenants later broke out into small groups facilitated by attorneys and organizers for an opportunity to ask questions, discuss ways to protect themselves and their neighbors, and to complete commitment cards asking tenants to start taking action and ownership of this new tool.
Intro 214-B, the final bill that passed last year, ensures at the end of 5 years, all income eligible tenants will be ensured an attorney when fighting their eviction in housing court. Tenants who are over income, have the right to a consultation with an attorney. The bill also provides for NYCHA tenants whose cases happen in administrative hearings, to have representation as well.
The Right to Counsel NYC Coalition is made up of tenant organizing groups, tenant advocates, homeless advocates, senior advocates, disability advocates, academics, legal services organizations and more! We led the campaign that resulted in the passage of Local Law 136, which ensures that low-income tenants are represented in eviction cases by attorneys when they defend their rights and their homes. The Coalition is actively organizing and advocating while this law is being phased in.
Once in fear of closing its doors, St. Finbar in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn has seen a revival in the life of their parish thanks to the devout faith of new Guatemalan immigrants. The community has dedicated their time and service to the place of worship they now call home and last year, amidst the uncertainties of immigration policies, leaders at St. Finbar stood by them regardless of their immigration status. Referring parishioners to Catholic Migration Services, the pastor, Fr. Gelfant invited Catholic Migration to host a Know-Your-Rights presentation for his community. The presentation was well attended and those present left reassured of their rights.
Michelle Powers reports from St. Bartholomew Church in Elmhurst, Queens where the pastor, Fr. Rick Beuther gathers the community for a night of information with presentations from both Catholic Migration and the NYPD. The evening is intended to ensure immigrant families know their rights and receive and are informed by credible sources.
On Sunday, Feb. 1, CMS staff Rebecca Rybaltowski and Lorena Lopez conducted outreach at St. Benedict Joseph Labre Parish in South Richmond Hill. They discussed CMS programs and the different services we offer after both an English and Spanish mass. In total there were around 150 attendees, after mass Rebecca and Lorena distributed materials to parishioners and answered questions. CMS will be continuing parish outreach throughout the remainder of winter and into the spring season.
CMS is currently conducting outreach for our legal services programs in parishes throughout Brooklyn and Queens. Thus far we have distributed important information and provided consultations to hundreds of parishioners at St. Margaret Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, St. Catherine of Alexandria, Sts. Joachim and Anne, St. Joan of Arc, St. Agatha, St. Teresa, Our Lady of Sorrows, St. Leo, Corpus Christi, Blessed Sacrament, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Our Lady of Fatima, St. Helen, St. Sebastian, St. Matthias, Our Lady of the Angelus, St. Rita, and St. Patrick.
We have staff on site ready to assist parishioners and provide information about our housing, immigration, and labor programs. CMS is working to increase accessibility by offering critical legal services to people who may otherwise not have the ability to come into our office during business hours. We will continue to conduct outreach in parishes across Brooklyn and Queens every Sunday through November.
For a full schedule of the churches we will be visiting this fall, please take a look at our Events Calendar!