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Immigration Hotline Calls Reveal The Best and Worst of Human Nature

monsignor kevin sullivan at ccny immigration call center
Monsignor Sullivan at the Immigration Hotline call center in New York City
Photo Credit: Fanny Gomez

by Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director, Catholic Charities New York

This was not a good weekend for the U.S. Not just for immigrants, but for all of us.  There has been too much hurt, uncertainty, anger, and too much fear. But it's not all bad - when things get bad, good people step up. We have seen much generosity, hard work, solidarity, and many good Samaritans.

These responses were necessitated by the persistent, intentional, deceptive rhetoric and actions by those in positions of power – actions designed to threaten some of our most vulnerable neighbors. Still worse, that blow directed at immigrants and refugees strikes against our entire nation. Let me share with you three calls received by Catholic Charities dedicated staff and volunteers who worked this past weekend.

A Hungarian woman said she had to go the supermarket to get food for her family but she was afraid to go, fearing she might be picked up in a raid.  She wanted detailed information what to do if she was approached by an ICE agent while shopping.  Our staff walked her through what her rights are under the law.

Volunteers at the Immigration Call Center at Catholic Charities New York.
Photo Credit: Fanny Gomez

A family from Sunset Park called urgently needing advice because an ICE agent was at their door.  We advised them on the law: If agents have no judge-signed-warrant, then there is no obligation to open the door. The door remained closed, and the ICE agents went away. But, the agents threatened, they would be back with a warrant. Who knows?

An example of our most troubling kind of call: A man called identifying himself as a “legal resident of the United States” and verbally assailed the CC staff person for helping “these illegals” and (using the ugliest language) said Catholic Charities should be ‘turning them in’ and getting them ‘out of our country’.

Let us pray...

America! - God mend our every flaw; confirm our souls in self-control.

God bless America, land that I love; stand beside us and guide us.