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Ways You Can Get Involved to Help Improve Migrant Conditions

Catholic Charities Assists Migrants at an Intake Center at the Border
Catholic Charities Assists Migrants at an Intake Center at the US/Mexico Border

by Jim Sliney Jr. 

3 Min Read. Immigration and Refugee Services, an Agency of Catholic Charities New York and Migration and Refugee Services (MRS), a service of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), have had to change their focus in the last year. Their missions are to serve and advocate for refugees, asylees, migrants, unaccompanied children, and victims of human trafficking. If you have heard of them, you might associate them with their missions in New York, Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, and more, but the policies at the US-Mexico border that led to the separation of children from their families has required them become a force for the reunification of families as well.

Catholic Charities, MRS, and other faith-based organizations have had to pivot to respond to the ever-changing needs of the immigration crisis at our border. Such missions are dependent on and intertwined with the compassion and generosity of the public. Catholic Charities of New York’s own executive director, Monsignor Keven Sullivan put it well when he said, “It is clear that New Yorkers must stand together on behalf of vulnerable children and their families and to insist on undoing negative federal policies and the damages they have caused.”

With that in mind, here are some ways you can help. If you are already helping, here are some ways you can pivot to meet the specific needs of the day.


Catholic Charities uses both attorney and non-attorney volunteers. We are seeking support in the following ways:

·         Pro bono case placement

·         Pro bono legal research

·         Assessing the needs of parents with separated children

·         Foster care or sponsorship assistance

·         Interpretation and translation assistance

·         Immigrant integration assistance 

·         In-kind and financial support

Please complete this brief volunteer survey telling us a little bit about who you are and how you wish to support Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities of New York will use this information to connect you to a mission where your efforts can make the most impact.


You can call or email Congress or your local representatives. Here’s how to do that:

Find them:

What to say: Tell them you want the conditions for families and minors improved at border holding centers. That you want dignified treatment for all immigrants, especially children, trapped at the border


Our election cycle is long, but that gives you time to understand where the different candidates stand on immigration issues. You can hold political candidates accountable for a more humane border policy. Follow what each candidate has shared about their plans for immigration reform in the New York Times, then make sure they stick to it.


Thousands of immigrant children arrive in the United States each year alone and frightened without a relative or caring adult. Catholic Charities of New York provides crucial legal and support services to children detained in temporary, federal shelter care in New York as they await reunification with a relative or transfer to foster care. We help custodians and potential custodians to better understand their roles, responsibilities and the immigration court process through the Legal Orientation Program for Custodians (LOPC). Call 888-996-3848 to speak with an LOPC Children’s Center expert.

In whatever way you choose to help, you can make a significant impact. The need has never been greater because the system meant to help unaccompanied minors isn’t working.

Anthony Enriquez is the director of the unaccompanied minors program for Catholic Charities in New York. He estimates that his office has seen more than 100 separated kids in the last year. Though a federal judge ordered the reunification of separated families, the courts also raised an injunction against that order. “As the time between the injunction and the present increases, more and more separated youth are in fact arriving in New York shelters,” he told the New York Times.

“There is no tracking system,” said Enriquez. “No comprehensive information-sharing system, and no reliable method by which we can have real-time data on the actual location of a parent so that family members can be brought back together.” When Enriquez goes to court on behalf of a child, he’ll ask the government’s lawyers where the parent is. They’ll often tell him they have no idea.


You may also support us in our work with immigrants and refugees as they seek safety in the US. Your gift will help provide compassionate and respectful legal assistance and other needed services. When these families and children come to New York, Catholic Charities attorneys, childcare counselors and other human service professionals provide respectful and compassionate legal and social service assistance that ensures basic human dignity, and a path to a better future.

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Join Catholic Charities of New York in standing up for those who cannot.