Preserving America’s Future: Catholic Charities’ Immigration Town Hall
By Jim Sliney Jr
“In 2020 we served over 100,000 immigrants.”
Immigration has risen to the top of the news cycle in recent weeks. With the recent change of administration in Washington, new executive orders, agency policies, and legislative reforms that affect immigrants and refugees have been issued or proposed. Critics, however, suggest that these new policies and reforms have fueled a surge of immigration. Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York has always worked closely with migration at the southern border. Each day assisting unaccompanied children escaping violence, asylum seekers, families seeking reunification, and those fleeing from persecution. This is part of Catholic Charities’ mission and commitment as it looks to America’s future.
On Wednesday March 10th Catholic Charities of New York held a Town Hall conversation on the topic of immigration. In attendance were several leaders in the area of immigration including Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York and Chris Birosak, Trustee and Chair of Program Quality Improvement for Catholic Charities New York, along with other colleagues leading the delivery of services to the immigrant community.
Beatriz Diaz Taveras, Director of Catholic Charities Community Services provided perspective on CCNY’s efforts in immigration. “In the late 1970s Catholic Charities established the office of Immigrant and Refugee Services. For over forty years we provided immigrant legal services by helping residents become citizens and petition their families; resettling refugees escaping persecution in their home countries, and many other services. Just in 2020 we served over 100,000 immigrants.”
Though the last several years had seen changes that restricted immigration policies including the very visible crisis of overcrowding in refugee shelters, a new White House promises to update policy and restore compassion to the immigration process. Compassion is something Catholic Charities has a lot of experience with, and they see immigration with expert eyes.
Maryann Tharappel, director of Special Projects for Immigration and Refugee Services pointed out that the recent Executive Order on the Revision of Civil Immigration Enforcement Policies and Priorities revokes the previous order that punished sanctuary cities. She further clarified that it also reverses “the labelling of any undocumented individual as a criminal at whom all the available resources should be directed to deport.” The new order focuses instead on those who commit violent crime for deportation.
Lucia Goyen, CCNY’s Community Engagement Manager, discussed how the DREAM Act remains merely a proposal, and how DACA is only a temporary patch, and how neither offers a path to citizenship. She elucidated the importance of supporting these younger people, brought here as children and who grew up in America. “They studied in our schools, they’re part of the fabric of our society, and they really pushed forward to advocate for themselves to make sure they could get protections. But that (the Dream Act) never got passed”.