Immigrants: Be On Notice

Posted on March 22, 2017 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Catholic Charities Director of Immigrant & Refugee Services

C. Mario Russell uses his expertise as Catholic Charities Director of Immigrant & Refugee Services to also serve as a regular contributor on immigration issues for “El Diario” newspaper and our “Charity in Action” blog.

By C. Mario Russell


Be On Notice

With two enforcement orders signed in January 2017, the president has attempted to change the immigration enforcement landscape of our nation.  While there are reasons to believe it will be very hard and very expensive to implement these orders – not to mention dealing with the legal challenges that will be raised – they nevertheless seem to have given Immigration and Customs Enforcement new energy and a new sense of permission. On paper the orders require that new agents be hired and new arrest, detention, and removal priorities be enforced. Will this happen on a mass scale? I doubt it. But, at the very least the orders send a troubling message to immigrants and refugees: "be on notice."

Anxiety & Fear

And so we see and hear the anxiety and fear. Each week our legal services staff meets with over 100 immigrants seeking information in walk-in consultations, and, since the election we have educated and spoken with almost 2,000 individuals and families in over 90 events throughout New York City and the Lower Hudson Valley.  Our immigration hotline has received over 6,000 calls just last month.

Defining Moment

By some estimates, there are over 800,000 undocumented people who have lived in New York State for a long time. Many have mixed-status families, with children who are United States Citizens and, perhaps, have DACA status; particular care is needed for them, which makes this moment one that is defining for us.

New York Won’t Stand Down

Recently the NYC Council held hearings on Trump's enforcement orders, and so we wish to offer the following recommendations, which we believe, will also put the administration "on notice" that New York won't stand down:

  • We urge the city to continue its commitment to protect the personal information of immigrants and safeguard the integrity of public city-owned spaces.
  • We urge the city to strengthen its advocacy and communication about immigration and immigrant values and that it grow and develop a network of outreach and information and education sites--safe spaces for good information--including hotline support; this is especially needed for day laborers, for unaccompanied children and their families, and for other vulnerable groups, especially those who live in more in communities with less access to support.
  • Finally, we urge that the city continue and expand its legal services commitments, such as through ActionNYC in Schools, the Immigrant Opportunities Initiative, and the ICARE immigrant children's defense initiative, which, combined, have helped thousands of families and children through a smart and effect network of city and non-profit legal agencies working together.
Redoubling Our Promise

This is an important time; it is a time to strengthen our work to help immigrants, and a time to redouble promise to those with whom we have shaped the history of this nation and with whom we share in its promise.

Read this in Spanish in Mario Russell’s column this week in El Diario

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