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Legal Aid, English Classes & More Canceled for Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

Posted on June 6, 2019 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Catholic Charities NY Responds

By Alice Kenny

Legal aid along with English classes, recreation and more are now on the chopping block for unaccompanied immigrant children temporarily housed in federal migrant shelters, according to an announcement yesterday by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

The announcement blamed funding shortages caused by the influx of recently arrived immigrant children.  Catholic Charities NY, a primary provider of legal and social services for unaccompanied immigrant children sent to New York shelters, served more than 3,000 since October, said Mario Russell, Catholic Charities Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services, and will likely serve another 5,000 before the year is over. 

Yet despite serving as a primary service provider “at this point Catholic Charities has not received any instruction to discontinue legal services,” Mr. Russell says.

“And, in any event, any instruction to do so would likely be against federal law, and would therefore be immediately challenged in the courts.”

For more than a century, Catholic Charities has supported new arrivals from all nations, Irish, Italians, Vietnamese, Central American and more.  We know them by name.  And we treat all who come to us with dignity and respect.

Catholic Charities provides legal consultations, representation and assistance to documented and undocumented newcomers of all nationalities, ethnicities and religions. 

“Certainly, the decision to discontinue English and extracurricular programming is punishing, cruel, and, unnecessary,” Mr. Russell added.  “(It) punishes the most innocent and weak: children.”