Catholic Charities Defends Dad Separated from Son with Downs Syndrome

Posted on November 20, 2017 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Read This & More in Our Monthly Immigration Roundup

By C. Mario Russell, Esq.

Director of Immigration & Refugee Services

Catholic Charities NY


Yet another whirlwind month for Catholic Charities’ indefatigable immigration and refugee staff!  Here is a roundup of the exceptional and critical services provided, showcasing the skill and dedication of our staff and the breadth and range of our services.


Uncharted Territory: Defending Indonesian Dad Facing Deportation from Son with Downs Syndrome


Our immigration department is making progress defending the dad of an Indonesian Christian family who resisted ICE when they tried to drag him onto a plane, separating him from his four US citizen children, one of whom has Downs Syndrome.  While he remains detained at the Hudson County Correctional Center, we are relieved that the First Circuit Court of Appeals’ order “staying” his deportation is still in effect.  We have answered a motion to dismiss by the Department of Homeland Security and are awaiting the Court’s decision.

This is fairly uncharted territory, so we don’t know, yet, what to expect and when. So, your thoughts and support still are needed. And your support is especially helpful in this time as we approach Thanksgiving and remember his family, his four US citizen children, and his wife who are struggling to keep as much normalcy in place as possible.  

Good thing, Catholic Charities has been able to provide certain necessities and rent assistance for November and December.

Last week, Msgr. Kevin Sullivan and I visited with the family and also visited the father in jail. This case is of concern to many.


Celebrating Hispanic Heritage


October 6:  Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement’s Safe Passages held our Hispanic Heritage month celebration. Families in our Safe Passages program enjoyed arts & crafts activities, played La Lotería (a traditional bingo/card game), and ate fresh tostadas. The children talked about the importance of celebrating their heritage and had the opportunity to share their customs and traditions.


Welcoming Refugees in Westchester

October 15: Catholic Charities staff led a presentation at Holy Innocents in Pleasantville to discuss the international refugee crisis, the US Refugee Resettlement program, and local initiatives to welcome refugees in Westchester and the Lower Hudson Valley. Notably, this overview brought together practice, policy, and social teaching.


Loyal, Indefatigable Advocacy

October 18: “Dreamers & DACA”, presented by a Catholic Charities immigration attorney at Mt. St. Mary’s College in Newburgh, offers another example of staff’s loyal and indefatigable advocacy for this vulnerable group of immigrant youth.


I.C.E. Targets Sponsors of Unaccompanied Minor Children

October 20: Catholic Charities attorneys provided a training at NY Law School on “Responding to ICE Enforcement: Criminal Smuggling & Targeting of Sponsors” to about 50 attorneys and practitioners from other non-profit legal service providers.

Everywhere Desperate Measures


October 20:   Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Director served on a panel before a performance of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, that was reinterpreted in a refugee context.  Check out this New York Times review!  

Our refugee resettlement director also served as a consultant for this just-released 2017 Cassamarca Human Trafficking Report


Community Legal Clinics

October 20: Our Special Projects unit led a successful Community Legal Clinic in Peekskill, NY.  The program served 124 immigrants and over 40 were found to have immigration benefits. Not much more than two weeks later, on November 4th, Special Projects led a successful Community Legal Clinic in Harlem. They were able to serve 90 immigrants and over 60 were found to have immigration benefits.


Naturalization Drive:  Solid, Reliable Work

October 25: Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services hosted an Office of New Americans naturalization drive in Poughkeepsie and completed 14 naturalization applications.  Once again, another example of their solid, reliable work over the years.


Field Trip!


October 27:  Staff and those we serve participated in a wonderful field trip to Ellis Island, where we had an opportunity to tour the hospital and immigration museum… and for an ad-hoc soccer game.


Robin Hood Heroes

November 7: Catholic Charities Attorney Brett Stark and his colleagues at Terra Firma, Dr. Alan Shapiro and Cristina Muniz, were recognized as “Robin Hood Heroes” and Terra Firma, a Catholic Charities partnership organization that provides immigrant youth with legal, social and medical services, was awarded a $50,000 gift in recognition of its life changing work.  

Victor Post, a client of Brett’s at Terra Firma, was featured at the Robin Hood Heroes Breakfast that morning. Please take a moment to read this blog and listen to Victor’s speech.



Soccer:  The International Language of Youth

November 4:  Our own Catholic Charities’ soccer program and team, La Union FC – spearheaded by Catholic Charities Migration Counselor Elvis Garcia and UMP Operations Director Kris Visich and designed to support unaccompanied minors--kicked off its first winter programming with an info, registration, and demonstration session at Our Lady Queen of Angels. Some 60 children are registered, including a good number of girls.


Welcome Blankets

Our Refugee Resettlement department has begun a partnership with Welcome Blanket. Local knitting groups are knitting welcome blankets and then they are being shipped to Chicago to be part of an exhibition at the Smart Museum.

In December the blankets will be distributed to resettlement agencies, such as ours. Welcome Blanket will also connect us with local knitting groups for a longer-term partnership and to receive hand knitted blankets, scarves, mittens and hats to give to refugees.



Thanksgiving – An International Feast

November 17 Looking forward to our annual Thanksgiving potluck dinner where staff and refugees bring everything from traditional turkey and staffing to exotic foods from their lands of birth.

Another month.  Another opportunity to honor the mission, courage and strength of those we serve.  Happy Thanksgiving to all!


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