News Articles

Helping New Americans Know and Understand Their Immigration Rights

CCNY Phone bank panel

By Jim Sliney Jr.

On Monday, September 9th and Tuesday, September 10th, there were two live phone banks offering free, safe, legal help for new Americans at the office of Immigration and Refugee Services at the Lower Manhattan Office of Catholic Charities of New York. That phone bank also addressed the many questions surrounding the changes to the “public charge” immigration rule. Univision 41 also hosted a Facebook Live event on September 12th making sure as many New Yorkers as possible had the opportunity to participate.

The collective event was put together by a coalition of organization committed to immigrant rights:

Univision 41, El Diario, the Hispanic Federation, New York Legal Assistance Group, New York State’s Office for New Americans, New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the New York Immigration Coalition, and of course Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.

Catholic Charities holds a long commitment to making legal assistance available to the immigrants of New York. When migrants cross the border and go through the long process of detention and inquiry they are eventually released. When they are, they go to places where they may have family or where there are resources to help them get established. Catholic Charities of New York has always made every effort to welcome and support new arrivals - to help them connect with the resources they need to live full, productive lives. It is a source of inspiration when CCNY can collaborate with city and state agencies as well as other nonprofits to work hand in hand to lift others up when they need a hand.

The turnout for the phone bank was amazing! On the first night alone, nearly 500 calls came in on the 18 phone lines that made up the bank. The lines were staffed by 21 staffers the first night and 29 on the second. These were hotline operators, Catholic Charity staff, and volunteers from the other participating agencies. All told, on the two nights the phone bank ran, over 1000 calls were answered, 563 referrals were made to needed services. Calls came mostly from within New York, but a fifth came from out of state. Calls were answered in Spanish, English, Chinese, and Creole.


The “public charge” rule change was set to take effect on October 15th of this year, but thanks to another coalition including attorney general of the state of New York, Letitia James, the states of Connecticut and Vermont, along with several agencies including Catholic Charities of NY filed a lawsuit that we hope will delay or ultimately stop that rule change.

If you want to understand the Public Charge issue better, please read our recent article, “Proposed Changes to Public Charge: Catholic Charities is Ready”. And know that as long as there is a need, Catholic Charities will be there to help.

View the Facebook Live event below. 

Panel experts:

Dan Smulian, Catholic Charities of New York
Sarah Nolan, New York Legal Assistance Group
Hasab Shafiqullah, Legal Aid Society
Ernie Collette, Mobilization for Justice