Keeping Families Together Edition 3 July 2019
I mmigration Legal Services Update:
Changes to Immigration Policies and how it affects our communities
 By Yer Vang, Catholic Charities' Director of Immigration Legal Services
Earlier this month, President Trump announced that he would give the green light for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to start mass raids that would lead to large numbers of immigrants being deported, including those they accidentally encounter when executing those raids. The threats of mass deportations create fear and anxiety for our immigrant communities. Many of our clients have been forced to flee their country of origin because of extreme poverty and violence. These parents and children are simply trying to survive and seek safety in the United States, to which they are entitled to do so under our asylum immigration law. 
There are two major immigration rule changes causing confusion and fear for immigrants in the United States. The first new rule took effect on July 16, 2019.  The Trump Administration issued this intending to drastically restrict asylum eligibility for thousands of people seeking safety in the United States.  The new rule bars a person from applying for asylum in the US if they traveled through Guatemala or Mexico and did not apply for asylum in those countries before seeking asylum in the US. There is very little exception to this policy (only applicable for victims of severe human trafficking), even unaccompanied children would be effected by this rule. However, there is opportunity to submit written comments opposing this new rule until August 15, 2019, you can do so by clicking here . In the meantime, the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a federal lawsuit, East Bay Sanctuary el al. v. Barr , seeking to have the new rule declared illegal and permanently stop its implementation. If the new policy is allowed to stand, it will certainly bar most asylum seekers from accessing the asylum system in the United States.  
Secondly, on July 23, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a new notice in the Federal Register that significantly expands the use of expedited removal (deportation) to include anyone who entered without inspection and who has been in the US for less than two years. Since 1996, it has only been applied to immigrants encountered by DHS within 100 miles of the border and within 14 days of entering the US. Under this new expanded rule, anyone who is questioned by DHS officials ANYWHERE within the US will need to prove they are not subject to expedited removal. The real effect of this new rule means that even US citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPR) might be subjected to having to prove they should not be included. If you would like to submit a written comment opposing this new rule, prior to September 15, 2019, you can do so by clicking here.
It is important to remember there are resources available to help immigrants. Catholic Charities provides crucial legal education to parishes, communities and to immigrants about changing immigration law and rights. Our Immigration Legal Services ministry team exists to help "welcome the stranger" so that our immigrant brothers and sisters can come out of the shadows and continue to build a community with us.  Our goal is to help our communities address these fears and provide accurate legal information. If you would like to host a Know Your Rights workshop in your community, please contact our office at 319-364-7121.
Changing the Course of Young People's Lives

Catholic Charities is playing a leading role in changing lives. We are living in a time of hardship for abandoned immigrant youth who come to the U.S. for help. Many people do not recognize the notable population of “unaccompanied minor” youth living right here in the Archdiocese of Dubuque.

Many of these young people have a path to legal residence with laws that protect minors who suffer from abuse, neglect, and abandonment. Searching for a better life, there is little hope to apply for a visa before arriving in the US. Instead, youth often arrive at US borders and request entry, which starts the legal process for this type of immigration.

From here, Catholic Charities plays an integral role in helping young people from all walks of life. With a staff of committed attorneys and legal assistants, the chances for legal immigration is greatly enhanced. Given that most Americans can trace ancestors who arrived in the country with few conditions, today's climate is unfriendly, to say the least. Many children are subject to extended detainment, endless paperwork, quick deadlines, long waits, and an uphill legal battle in immigration court and with visa authorities. Unlike countless generations who arrived before, immigration, especially for minors, has become a difficult, expensive and complicated journey. Federal immigration policies dictate enforcement patterns from year to year. While the media chatter is about justice, immigrant children endure long waiting periods, unable to work, unable to collect public assistance benefits, unable to legally seek work. They also typically cannot obtain a license to drive, among many other benefits and rights most of us take for granted. It can be an unfair and often arduous process.

The good news is that Catholic Charities is working diligently to provide quality legal assistance, helping many disadvantaged young people overcome massive legal hurdles, walk the path to legal permanent residence and obtain the freedoms we take for granted. Pedro (pictured here) is one success story. Through his own dedication and extensive legal assistance from the Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services team, Pedro (above with Attorney Ry Meyer and volunteer Mauricio Casteneda) has overcome many obstacles in his life. The government has granted his request for "Special Immigrant Juvenile Status" and Pedro is on the path to legal permanent residency and potentially citizenship. Along the way, Catholic Charities, with a group of committed volunteers, have played a significant role in changing the course of Pedro's life, and many others.
Donation Drive to collect items to aid with crisis at the border

 Catholic Charities agencies on the southern border are continuing to assist immigrants on a daily basis. These small agencies are prepared to handle approximately 200 people daily; however, they are averaging 500 people a day. With agencies being short on supplies, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque organized a donation drive for the specific items Catholic Charities agencies requested help with, such as: backpacks, diapers, flip flops, belts and toothbrushes. A special thank you to  Warren Transport  out of Waterloo for volunteering to ship these donations to the Catholic Charities in Laredo, Texas! Pictured above are Catholic Charities staff and volunteers "Responding Together" by gathering all items from the Donation Drive held to benefit those in need at the border.
Why would anyone leave their home country?
Guest Author, Sr. Mary McCauley, BVM

The answer rests with what we call "push factors!" In the last few years a number of people from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have made the difficult decision to migrate due to violence, unemployment, hunger, unsafe living conditions, food insecurity and intense poverty within their home country. Knowing "the why" helps us recognize that this person or family had no real alternative.

"If I continue to stay here, I am going to be killed," said a mother of two from Honduras.

"I was forced to come to survive...I was earning $1.40 a day working in the fields. This is not enough to feed my four children."

"In my country, life is not worth anything. You get killed for ten dollars. Thugs enter my house and killed my father, mother and brother. I know they would come for me next so I ran away."
Immigration Attorney Highlight:
Ry Meyer

 Ry Meyer is an attorney who joined the Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services team last year, located in the Dubuque office. Prior to joining Catholic Charities, Ry worked as a prosecutor, first in Clayton County and then in Dubuque. He has significant trial and litigation experience. Ry is also a military veteran. He served six years’ active duty in the U.S. Navy as a cryptologic linguist, doing classified intelligence work. His background in criminal prosecution and national security give him a unique perspective on immigration border security issues.

“Our laws are meant to keep people safe and free. Safety and freedom are rights that immigrants have, too," Meyer said. A native Dubuquer, Ry attended Holy Trinity-Sacred Heart Grade School and is a graduate of Wahlert High School Class of ’99. He graduated Clarke University in 2003 with a B.F.A. He also holds a M.A. from Hawaii Pacific University (Oahu, HI) in Global Leadership and Sustainable Development, an A.A. from the Defense Language Institute (Monterey, CA) in Mandarin Chinese, and a J.D. from Vermont Law School (South Royalton, VT). Ry is very happy to be working in his home town, and proud to be part of the Catholic Charities team.

Myths vs. Facts

I MMIGRATION MYTH : Immigrants are illegal and criminals. Immigrants commit more crimes.

I MMIGRATION FACT Immigrants in all ethnic categories commit LESS crimes than native-born Americans.

Multiple studies using federal and state data have found no suggestion that rising immigration rates leads to more violent crime. These recent studies, which encompass large data sets, suggest that increased immigration — both legal and illegal — is not tied to higher rates of violent crime, but rather a decrease.

According to the Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice (Dec 2016), there was a 118% increase in the immigrant population (documented and undocumented)  from 1980 through 2016 . Yet during this same period, the rate of violent crime — homicides, rapes, robberies, and assaults, according to the FBI — fell by 36% to about 386 incidents per 100,000 residents.

There's also a  study published in February  by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, which further rejects the idea that illegal immigration is tied to increases in rates of violent crime. The study looked at conviction data in Texas — the state with the  second-largest population  of foreign-born residents — for native-born, unauthorized immigrant, and legal immigrant residents. The research found that native-born residents were most likely to commit and be convicted of crimes, while unauthorized immigrants saw a conviction rate that was about 50% lower. Legal immigrants appeared to be the most law-abiding, with 86% fewer convictions than native-born Texans. [Cato Institute (February 2018); The Sociological Quarterly (March 2017); Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice (December 2016)] 
Community Partner Highlight:

League of United Latin American Citizens, (LULAC) is the largest and oldest Hispanic Organization in the United States. The mission of LULAC is to advance the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, housing, health and civil rights of the Hispanic population of the United States. In addition to fulfilling the mission of the national office, LULAC Iowa and Council 307 was formed in 2011 in order to provide a unified voice in addressing issues that affect Latinos in central Iowa.

Know Your Rights trainings held throughout the year (pictured above on June 15 at Mount Mercy University) is one way LULAC and Catholic Charities work together. Catholic Charities' Immigration Legal Services' staff were present along with representatives of the Mobile Mexican Consulate of Omaha to educate the immigrant community about their rights and help them prepare for emergencies, in hopes to lessen their fears and anxieties.

"Right now it is important to make sure immigrants have correct legal information and understand their rights," LULAC Council 376 President Monica Vallejo said. "We value the important legal advocacy provided by Catholic Charities for immigrants in Cedar Rapids."  
Interested in learning more?
Please click here to visit our Immigration Legal Services website page or
Click here to donate to Catholic Charities.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque |