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On Deadline for Family Reunification, Immigration Director Gives Thanks

Posted on July 27, 2018 by Catholic Charities Admin  |  Share

“History Will Remember Those, Like You, Who Responded”

By C. Mario Russell, Esq.

Director of Immigration & Refugee Services

Catholic Charities NY

With today’s court mandated deadline to reunify all children separated by the administration having come -- and now gone -- let me take a quick moment to thank staff, volunteers and donors for the many ways you have supported, advanced, and directed our work and defended our clients, our families, our programs, and this nation’s immigrants and refugees.  The fundamental unfairness and cruelty of this administration’s immigration policies are in plain sight; but they will end in time and our history will pass judgment.

History Will Remember Those, Like You, Who Responded

And, as important, history will remember the solidarity, commitment, and tenacity of those, like you, who responded each day, providing social services support, answering phone calls, ensuring legal representation, delivering administrative support, offering English proficiency and cultural integration, discussing the importance of this issue with friends and colleagues, supporting our efforts and much, much more.

Helping First Reunited Families

For context, I have linked a FaceBook Video that shows in a personal way the unnecessary pain and suffering inflicted on families and that includes two fathers, Javier and Adan, who were the first to reunify in New York with their children, William (eating the potato chip and quite possibly one of the most charismatic 4 year olds in this hemisphere!) and Juan on July 10. Catholic Charities was on hand to provide social services, temporary shelter for two nights, and assistance with their relocation out of state. This work continues today, expanded, as we receive more families in New York in coordination with our national partners and affiliates on the Southern border and help them with their transitional  supports and legal needs.

Responding to Every Separated Immigrant Child’s Needs

The work of Catholic Charities over the past several months on this issue has been prodigious. Our Unaccompanied Minors Program team found itself at the center of New York’s concern in this crisis, as it met with each of the over 350 children who had been separated and transferred to regional shelters here.  The team responded–and continues to respond–to the needs of these kids, the media, elected officials, stakeholders, funders, benefactors, volunteers, and many more with truly awesome professionalism, passion, and equanimity.  

Grateful for Your Humanitarian Response

We are very grateful for and proud of your humanitarian response and the way you have shown Catholic Charities’ core work and beliefs in this time of crisis. Likewise, Immigration Legal, Refugee Resettlement, and Hotline trained their energies and full support for a well-choreographed response, engaging staff and resources and expertise and talent in many ways.  Within a week of the crisis this office developed and coordinated a volunteer response, including a telephonic briefing attended by 355 participants, engaged the services of nine law firms, pulled together NY City non-profit partners in conversation, responded to and parsed out hundreds (literally!) of offers of help and support, attended to hundreds of telephone calls and identified appropriate referrals, and marshaled and dispatched case management and logistic support in various parts of the city, to name a few. All this in the margins of the workday of our staff and volunteers.

Emerging Picture Reveals the Work of Angels

Normally I would share below articles and media links that highlights this work over the past month or two. But, given the volume of our engagement on this issue in the past five weeks, I urge you to check out in the Latest News section on our Catholic Charities NY homepage the nearly 100 news sites reporting about our work, from CNN to The New York Times, Reuters, the Brian Lehrer Show, to name a few .  Feel free to read or search as you want, or just read the headlines!; they are in no particular order of importance. Each alone and in combination represents the whole of our work.  There’s a lot, but as you read and “watch” your way through you will see emerge a picture of the caring response of the people of this city and how you, as part of our Catholic Charities staff, supporters and team of volunteers—have been at its front.

As was emotionally communicated to Msgr. Sullivan and me by NY City Council Speaker Corey Johnson at a public hearing at City Hall at which we were asked to testify, and I paraphrase:  

New York is grateful to you for the work you have been doing… it is the work of angels.

Thank you for your poise, your courage, and your humanity. 

Catholic Charities is responding to the needs of our neighbors during the 
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